SOUR GRAPES by Dan Rhodes (Lightning £14.99, 200 pp)


by Dan Rhodes (Lightning £14.99, 200 pp)

The author of this laugh-out-loud satire has form for disputes with the literary establishment. He has fallen out with publishers, sneered at prizes he was shortlisted for and privately published his previous book.

His latest is a take-down of the entire publishing industry — from authors to agents, editors to reviewers, no one escapes a brutal, hilarious skewering.

When a group of quintessentially English villages collectively known as The Bottoms decide to host a literary festival, they have no way of foreseeing the chaos and misery about to ensue. Playing a key role at this ludicrous event is writer Wilberforce Selfram, a hideous egotist who believes he has discovered a Medieval manuscript.

Selfram and his fellow contributors are not paid for being at the festival, but he believes he can write lucrative articles about living a Medieval lifestyle based on the disgusting contents of the manuscript. I loved it.


by Laura Barnett (W&N £12.99, 208 pp)

I often feel extreme aversion to any season-related novel as the gimmick turns me off. However, I thoroughly enjoyed this gorgeous festive tale.

Told in the form of interlinked short stories, it’s beautifully written and highly emotionally intelligent about how sad and difficult Christmas can be for those who are alone or in complicated relationships.

Maddy is 56, single and running a bookshop in the small town where she grew up. When old schoolfriend Peter moves back after a bitter divorce, Maddy’s teenage crush on him fires up again, leading her straight back to the overthinking, obsession and confusion she thought she’d got over long ago.

Peter’s daughter Chloe is so angry with her mother she moves in with him, close to where Irene, her grandmother, lives alone.

It’s wonderful on how hard it can be to feel out of step with a celebratory world and the torture of not knowing how someone you love feels about you.

SEESAW by Timothy Ogene (Swift Press £12.99, 256 pp)


by Timothy Ogene (Swift Press £12.99, 256 pp)

It’s a big week for literary satire as here is another, equally pleasing yet very different, example of the genre.

Frank Jasper is a Nigerian writer whose first novel was littered with mistakes and only sold 50 copies.

Betty Kirkpatrick is a rich American who thought she wanted to be a writer until, ‘you know, life happened’. Betty chances upon Frank’s book and decides to get him enrolled on a programme run by the Boston University where her husband is a professor.

It’s immediately apparent Betty is dazzled more by Frank’s race and background than his writing, seeing him as a trophy representative of his culture.

Frank is not as malleable as she thinks, has no intention of playing ball and is kicked out of the institution for failing to finish a single assignment. The expulsion leads him on a mind-expanding journey around America. Thought-provoking and funny.

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