3 Books Weekly #3 - featuring Kitschies award director Glen Mehn
09.00, Friday 18 Mar 2016 Link to this post
The following was first posted on the 3 Books Weekly email newsletter and has since been archived here.
Welcome to the 3rd edition of 3 Books Weekly, featuring recommendations from Glen Mehn!
In teeny bookshop news… My bookshop is a vending machine :) Here’s a pic. Fit-out comes next, and the moving in date is Real Soon Now. The selection is 100% curated (so you’ll recognise some of the recommendations from this newsletter). We’ll have the pop-up open in Shoreditch, London, during April. There’s still a ton to do. Gulp.
Now let’s hear from Glen :)
#1. The Machine, by James Smythe
The Machine is a story of unconditional love and the desperation that that engenders. The eponymous Machine was created to selectively edit memories in order to treat dementia and PTSD, and it seems like it worked, until it went terribly wrong. Now Beth wants her husband back. It’s short, by modern standards, and not a whole lot happens over the first three quarters of its length - and, in fact, the reader pretty much knows the plot of that chunk of the novel within a dozen pages. It grips the reader, though, this story of recklessness in the face of despair. It is criminal that this book is as unknown as it is. The paperback edition very unfortunately has a really poor-quality cover and printing. It’s sad, but the book is stunning.
#2. The Lie Tree, by Frances Hardinge
It won the Costa award - the second-ever children’s book to do so, and it’s heartbreaking and brilliant - Hardinge has been an undiscovered gem for years. What’s it about? In Victorian England, a famous Reverend scientist has secrets, and a personal shame. He has a series of sickly sons, most of whom have died, and the last of whom is writing left-handed. He is driven away from his home by scandal. His daughter, Faith, remains steadfast despite any evidence she has against him. She is his true daughter, clever and quick-witted and interested in science and used poorly, again and again. This Faith’s story of discovery of her own strength and what it means to be a modern woman; it is heartbreaking, true and absolutely wonderful in its awfulness.
#3. Lagoon, by Nnedi Okorafor
Four of my top books that I read over the two years I spent judging the Kitschies stick in my mind - and they’re all from either Nigerian or Nigerian diaspora authors. This book grabbed me by the throat and didn’t let go for a second. What happens when aliens invade the planet - and decide that the best place to land is Lagos, Nigeria? This book is a Nollywood drama smashed headlong into alien invasion, all steeped in Nigeria’s history, both real and legendary. It starts out looking like an eco-thriller, then weaves together the lives of a marine biologist, a soldier with strong ethics, and a Ghanaian rapper and at one point they get into an argument with a road. It’s absolute madness. The book is impressive in ambition and it doesn’t spoon-feed a thing; you’ll be rewarded with a range of emotion from laughter to terror to bleak, black humour.