Rising to the Surface
by Lenny Henry (Faber £9.99, 352pp)
Lenny Henry’s second memoir begins with a recap of how the 16‑year-old from Dudley launched a showbiz career when he appeared on the talent show New Faces in 1975.
He recounts the highs and lows of his professional life since then, from the bouncy anarchy of Tiswas, through the heady days of the 1980s, working with alternative comedians such as Tracey Ullman, Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French (who became his wife).
He breaks into Hollywood, only to be told to lose ‘a ton of weight’, and overcomes his fear of theatre, taking the title role in a production of Othello.
Amid the anecdotes there are reflections on when he was the only black comic on TV, a moving account of his relationship with his mum, Winifred, and regret for the way his obsession with work affected his personal relationships.
by Andrew Hunter Murray (Penguin £9.99, 416pp)
Some time in the future, Britain has become a divided country. While most live in decaying cities, a privileged elite reside in gated ‘villages’ owned by a reclusive billionaire, Sir John Pemberley.
Ben and his fiancee, Cara, are city-dwellers. Ben is a struggling artist, but Cara has landed herself a job as executive assistant to Sir John.
The role requires her to spend many months at his most ambitious project, Sanctuary Rock, on a private island off the coast of Scotland. But on the day she is due to return home, Ben receives a note announcing that she is not coming back.
Determined to confront her, he travels to the island, only to find that the idyllic Sanctuary is a place of appalling secrets.
Hunter Murray’s disturbing eco-thriller keeps its readers spellbound until the final chilling twist.
by Miriam Toews (Faber £8.99, 272pp)
Swiv has been suspended from school for fighting with bullies. She lives with her eccentric grandma, Elvira, and actress mother in a Toronto flat from which a developer is trying to evict them.
Her father is absent, and Swiv writes a half-letter, half-diary, describing the tragi-comic adventures of their household, where she sometimes seems the most grown-up of the trio.
Elvira grew up in an oppressive religious community and now revels in a joyful lack of boundaries about bodily functions.
While her mother is at rehearsals, Swiv acts as her grandma’s carer. In return, Elvira delivers outrageous life lessons, taking Swiv on madcap expeditions.
The ninth novel by Miriam Toews is a poignant tribute to the love and indomitable fighting spirit of three generations of remarkable women.
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