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A Town Called Solace: ‘Will break your heart’ Graham Norton

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Many of them consider how people grapple with the past – whether personal experiences of grief or dislocation or the historical legacies of enslavement, apartheid and civil war. Ishiguro makes the cut alongside some heavyweight names, from Richard Powers, chosen for the yet-to-be-published Bewilderment, about a widowed astrobiologist trying to raise his nine-year-old son, to Rachel Cusk, longlisted for Second Place, in which a woman invites an artist to visit the remote coastal region where she lives. So Solace, while not a real town, is true to her memory and, despite the sometimes gruff or know-it-all locals, an emotional landmark for the three central characters, all of whom are processing trauma and looking for places of comfort where they can start over. The Pulitzer-winning Powers, meanwhile, is joined by fellow Americans Patricia Lockwood, chosen for her buzzed-about debut No One is Talking About This, in which real life intrudes on the world of a woman known for her viral social media posts, Maggie Shipstead’s story of a female aviator who disappears in 1950 while attempting to fly around the world, Great Circle, and Nathan Harris’s first novel The Sweetness of Water, set at the end of the American civil war. As the novel progresses, it carries echoes of a friendship which developed 30 years before, between Elizabeth and the four-year-old Liam.

I thought that the Temiskaming Speaker was an imaginary newspaper, created to show the quaint parochialism of Northern Ontario. Liam, an unhappy man at a crossroads in his life has his own memories, mostly of a sad childhood, until some beautiful memories surface when he comes to Solace. I seldom read books when they first appear, but there were two slim volumes that especially impressed me this year. At the end of her life, Elizabeth Orchard is also thinking about a crime, one committed thirty years previously that had tragic consequences for two families, and in particular for one small child.Anuk Arudpragasam is a hugely promising young Sri Lankan author: in his second novel, A Passage North, a young man reflects on the horrors of the civil war. Ellie Taylor opens up about going back to work after eight weeks of maternity leave: 'Feeling very grateful. A French-language edition of Crow Lake was translated by Cécile Arnaud, was published as Le choix des Morrison by Belfond in 2003. I was touched by Michelle Zauner’s cathartic memoir about losing her mother, Crying in H Mart (Picador).

You might not see how everything threads together as you read along, but when you look back from the end of the story, the map becomes clear. Here, the larger than life character, though involved in the more dangerous narrative, is made into a secondary character, kept at a distant. The past year has seen many sharp novels from younger female authors investigating how the internet influences minds, relationships and working lives, but the only example here is Patricia Lockwood’s virtuoso debut No One Is Talking About This: savagely funny on social media addiction and then truly tragic on family pain. Authentic compelling characters, simple understated but superb writing style, and a profound understanding of the human heart.

The writing is superb and atmospheric, the structure is sophisticated and yet flows with ease you could read this and be completely unaware of it. Comedy is always there, lurking at the edges of tragedy: witness Mrs Orchard’s view of her hospital room-mate Martha ‘eating Shredded Wheat.

It follows all the girlish intrigues, of who is the most popular, who is the prettiest, but this is no Malory Towers. She takes you so easily into the minds and hearts of her characters and she allows you to know them, feel what they are feeling and to feel for them. Rooney has an old-fashioned belief that the novel can be a place in which the question of how we should live is continually at play. Along with her suburban housewife and lab-tested reptilian lover, Ingalls deftly, wittily and rather incredibly liberates readers from the awfulness of convention to a state where weirdness and otherness are beautiful and right. The fascinating thing about The Booker Prize is how diverse the selected longlist and then the short list of books are.There are satisfying parallels in that, on multiple occasions but in slightly different ways, a child attaches to an older person or an adult stands in as a guardian for a neglected child. However, the house is in disrepair, and to sell it he needs to spend longer in the aptly named town of Solace. An article featuring Mary Lawson was published in the McGill News magazine by Neale Mcdevitt and Daniel Mccabe. Soon, he finds himself drawn into the orbit of the townspeople, and in particular the nervous Clara. The Heathens (Little, Brown) by Ace Atkins is pure, uncut, US southern noir with a modern social media twist.

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