1) The Bastard of Istanbul – Elif Shafak
Elif Shafak tackles her country’s terrible past in a bright and colourful tale set in both Turkey and the United States in her second novel published in English. The “bastard” of the title, Asya, a nineteen-year-old woman who loves Johnny Cash and the French Existentialists, is at its centre, as are the four sisters of the Kazanci family who all live together in an extended household in Istanbul: Zehila, the vivacious, headstrong youngest sister who runs a tattoo parlour and is Asya’s mother; Banu, who has recently discovered herself as a clairvoyant; and Cevriy. One estranged brother, Armanoush, resides in Arizona with his wife and their Armenian daughter. Armanoush discovers the Kazanci sisters and makes close friends with Asya when she secretly travels to Istanbul in quest of her true identity. A secret is revealed that connects the two families and links them to the deportations and killings of Armenians in 1915. The Bastard of Istanbul is a daring, compelling novel full of strong, memorable female characters that will affirm Shafak as a rising star of world literature.
2) 10 minutes, 38 seconds in this strange world – Elif Shafak
Each minute after her death brings a sensual memory to Leila: the taste of spiced goat stew sacrificed by her father to celebrate the long-awaited birth of a son; the sight of bubbling vats of lemon and sugar used by the women to wax their legs while the men attend mosque; the scent of cardamom coffee shared by Leila with a handsome student in the brothel where she works. Each recollection also remembers the friends she made at each pivotal point in her life – people who are now anxiously searching for her.The best-selling author of The Bastard of Istanbul returns with a stunning new novel.
3) Conversations with friends – Sally Rooney
Frances is twenty-one years old, calm, and very perceptive. She commits herself to a life of the mind—and to the gorgeous and eternally self-possessed Bobbi, her best friend and partner in crime, as a college student and aspiring writer. The two young ladies were lovers in high school and now perform spoken-word poetry together in Dublin, where a journalist called Melissa recognises their talent. Frances is unwillingly impressed by Melissa’s elegant home and tall, attractive husband after being drawn into her orbit. Private property is a cultural evil, according to Frances, and Nick, a bored actor who never quite lived up to his promise, resembles patriarchy in flesh.But, as funny as their flirtation seemed at first, it soon gives birth to a peculiar familiarity that none of them anticipates. As Frances strives to maintain control over her life, her relationships with Nick, her difficult and unhappy father, and eventually, Bobbi, become increasingly difficult to manage. Frances’ cerebral certainties begin to give way to something new: a painful and bewildering manner of living from moment to moment, as she tries desperately to reconcile herself to her body’s desires and vulnerabilities.
4) Normal people – Sally Rooney
Connell and Marianne act as though they don’t know each other in school. She is lonely, prideful, and very private, whereas he is popular and well-adjusted, the star of the school soccer team. When Connell picks up his mother from Marianne’s housekeeping job, a peculiar and lasting bond develops between the two adolescents, which they are desperate to keep hidden.They’re both studying at Trinity College in Dublin a year later. Marianne has established herself in a new social environment, but Connell remains on the sidelines, hesitant and unsure.Marianne and Connell circle each other throughout their college years, wandering toward other people and opportunities but always magnetically, irresistibly attracted back together. As she descends into self-destruction and he seeks purpose elsewhere, they must decide how far they are ready to go to save the other.Sally Rooney uses her great psychological acumen and flawlessly sparse writing to examine the intricacies of class, the euphoria of first love, and the complicated entanglements of family and friendship in this narrative.
5) Mexican gothic – Silvia Moreno-Gracia
Noemí Taboada travels to High Place, a remote home in the Mexican countryside, after receiving a desperate letter from her newlywed cousin pleading for help to save her from an unknown fate. She has no idea what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a dashing Englishman, is a complete stranger, and Noemí has no knowledge of the area.Noemí is likewise an unlikely rescuer: she’s a stunning debutante, and her elegant dresses and flawless red lipstick are more appropriate for cocktail parties than amateur investigation.But she’s also strong and intelligent, with an unbreakable drive to succeed, and she’s not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both frightening and fascinating; not of his father, the elderly patriarch who appears to be enamoured with Noemí; and not even of the home itself, which begins to enter Noemí’s dreams with images of blood and death.The family’s youngest kid is her lone ally in this hostile environment. He is shy and polite, and he appears to want to help Noemí, but he may also be concealing horrible family secrets. Because there are a lot of mysteries hidden beyond the walls of High Place.The family’s former opulence and defunct mining enterprise shielded them from inquisitive eyes, but when Noemí investigates further, she uncovers tales of brutality and lunacy.And Noemí, fascinated by High Place’s terrible yet alluring environment, may soon find it hard to leave this fascinating mansion.
6) The Song Of Achilles – Madeline Miller
Achilles, known as “the best of all Greeks,” is the son of the harsh sea goddess Thetis and the legendary king Peleus. He is strong, quick, and gorgeous, and those who encounter him find him fascinating. Patroclus is a shy young prince who has been exiled from his country following a horrific act of violence. Despite incurring the gods’ wrath, they form an unbreakable friendship after being brought together by accident.They are taught the techniques of battle and healing by the centaur Chiron, but when word arrives that Helen of Sparta has been stolen, all of Greece’s heroes are summoned to lay siege to Troy in her honour.Achilles, lured by the prospect of a bright future, joins their cause, and Patroclus, torn between love and dread for his buddy, follows. They had no idea that the merciless Fates will put them to the ultimate test and demand a horrible sacrifice.