Christmas Book Flood | Recommending reading

Contemporary fiction


The Sellout
Paul Beatty
(UK: Oneworld Publications, 2016; USA: Picador, 2015)

Born in Dickens on the southern outskirts of Los Angeles, the narrator of The Sellout spent his childhood as the subject in his father’s racially charged psychological studies. He is told that his father’s work will lead to a memoir that will solve their financial woes. But when his father is killed in a drive-by shooting, he discovers there never was a memoir. All that’s left is a bill for a drive-through funeral.

What’s more, Dickens has literally been wiped off the map to save California from further embarrassment. Fuelled by despair, the narrator sets out to right this wrong with the most outrageous action conceivable: reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school, which lands him in the Supreme Court.

Recommended by:
Christopher NorrisJolabokaflod Book Campaign

Available in the UK via ‘My Local Bookshop‘ search engine or Amazon (The Sellout)
Available in the USA via Amazon (The Sellout)

anyhumanheartAny Human Heart
William Boyd
(UK: Penguin, 2009; USA: Vintage International, 2004)

Every life is both ordinary and extraordinary, but Logan Mountstuart’s – lived from the beginning to the end of the 20th century – contains more than its fair share of both. As a writer who finds inspiration with Hemingway in Paris and Virginia Woolf in London, as a spy recruited by Ian Fleming and betrayed in the war and as an art-dealer in 60s New York, Logan mixes with the movers and shakers of his times. But as a son, friend, lover and husband, he makes the same mistakes we all do in our search for happiness. Here, then, is the story of a life lived to the full – and a journey deep into a very human heart.

Recommended by:
Liz Fay

Available in the UK via ‘My Local Bookshop‘ search engine or Amazon (Any Human Heart)
Available in the USA via Amazon (Any Human Heart)

kiterunnerThe Kite Runner
Khaled Hosseini
(UK: Bloomsbury, 2011; USA Riverhead, 2013)

Afghanistan, 1975: Twelve-year-old Amir is desperate to win the local kite-fighting tournament and his loyal friend Hassan promises to help him. But neither of the boys can foresee what will happen to Hassan that afternoon, an event that is to shatter their lives. After the Russians invade and the family is forced to flee to America, Amir realises that one day he must return to Afghanistan under Taliban rule to find the one thing that his new world cannot grant him: redemption.

Recommended by:
Derek Farrell, author: crime fiction
Derek says: ‘No book has ever gripped or emotionally impacted me so strongly.’

Available in the UK via ‘My Local Bookshop‘ search engine or Amazon (The Kite Runner)
Available in the USA via Amazon (The Kite Runner)

Derek’s latest books in the Danny Bird Mysteries series are published in the UK (both 2016) and USA (both 2016) by Fahrenheit Press:
#1 Death of a Diva (UK: ‘My Local Bookshop‘ search engine or Amazon | USA: Amazon);
#2 Death of a Nobody (UK: ‘My Local Bookshop‘ search engine or Amazon | USA: Amazon)


Ian McEwan
(UK: Jonathan Cape, 2016; USA: Nan A Talese, 2016)

Trudy has betrayed her husband, John. She’s still in the marital home – a dilapidated, priceless London townhouse – but not with John. Instead, she’s with his brother, the profoundly banal Claude, and the two of them have a plan. But there is a witness to their plot: the inquisitive, nine-month-old resident of Trudy’s womb.

Recommended by:
Jane Johnson

Available in the UK via ‘My Local Bookshop‘ search engine or Amazon (Nutshell)
Available in the USA via Amazon (Nutshell)

beesThe Bees
Laline Paull
(UK: 4th Estate, 2015; USA: Ecco, 2015)

Born into the lowest class of her society, Flora 717 is a sanitation bee, only fit to clean her orchard hive. Living to accept, obey and serve, she is prepared to sacrifice everything for her beloved holy mother, the Queen.

But Flora is not like other bees. Despite her ugliness she has talents that are not typical of her kin. While mutant bees are usually instantly destroyed, Flora is removed from sanitation duty and is allowed to feed the newborns, before becoming a forager, collecting pollen on the wing. She also finds her way into the Queen’s inner sanctum, where she discovers secrets both sublime and ominous.

But enemies are everywhere, from the fearsome fertility police to the high priestesses who jealously guard the Hive Mind. And when Flora breaks the most sacred law of all her instinct to serve is overshadowed by an even deeper desire, a fierce love that will lead to the unthinkable…

Recommended by:
Emma DaleyEmma Daley PR

Available in the UK via ‘My Local Bookshop‘ search engine or Amazon (The Bees)
Available in the USA via Amazon (The Bees)

goldfinchThe Goldfinch
Donna Tartt
(UK: Abacus, 2014; USA: Back Bay, 2015)

Aged 13, Theo Decker, son of a devoted mother and a reckless, largely absent father, survives an accident that otherwise tears his life apart. Alone and rudderless in New York, he is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. He is tormented by an unbearable longing for his mother, and down the years clings to the thing that most reminds him of her: a small, strangely captivating painting that ultimately draws him into the criminal underworld. As he grows up, Theo learns to glide between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love – and his talisman, the painting, places him at the centre of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

Recommended by:
Emma DaleyEmma Daley PR

Available in the UK via ‘My Local Bookshop‘ search engine or Amazon (The Goldfinch)
Available in the USA via Amazon (The Goldfinch)