If I Survive You by Jonathan Escoffery (Fourth Estate £14.99, 272pp)

If I Survive You

by Jonathan Escoffery (Fourth Estate £14.99, 272pp)

Smart, savvy and snappy, If I Survive You is a pin-sharp look at the faltering trajectory of a Jamaican family who head to Miami in the hope of a better life, unfolded in eight funny, furious stories.

Ferocious weather, fractious family relationships, financial struggles and ugly, inescapable racism skewer their every chance. As Hurricane Andrew roars, brothers fall out and jobs are hard to come by.

‘What are you?’ is the most-asked question of Trelawney in the stand-out story, In Flux. ‘A little bit of this, a little bit of that,’ is his mother’s reply — an unsatisfactory answer. Elsewhere there are questionable employment choices (Odd Jobs), dysfunctional father-and-son dynamics (Splashdown) and a cursed family home (Pestilence) in this superb debut.

Call And Response by Gothataone Moeng (Oneworld £16.99, 304pp)

Call And Response

by Gothataone Moeng (Oneworld £16.99, 304pp)

THESE brilliant stories are set in modern Botswana, but delve into age-old longings.

Moeng unfurls the luminous inner life of her characters (girls and women for the most part) as they go about their ordinary days, hearts and heads brimful of new wants and desires, but keenly aware of old traditions and family expectations.

There’s Phetso, who’s wearing her widowhood in clothes chosen by her husband’s kin (Small Wonders), while in Good Girl harsh home truths are dished by steely siblings. And regretful, depressed Nametso, back home from America, condenses a welter of complicated emotions into a simple sentence: ‘My jaw got tired of speaking all that English’ (Dark Matter).

Loathe To Love You by Ali Hazelwood (Sphere £9.99, 384p p)

Loathe To Love You

by Ali Hazelwood (Sphere £9.99, 384p p)

There’s much fun to be had in these three excitable, interlinked novellas. Neuroscientist and TikTok star Ali Hazelwood’s funny, steamy stories marry science to sizzling sexual chemistry, as her three endearing heroines head from animosity to head-over-heels with a trio of strong, stroppy but ultimately lovable work rivals/crushes.

Mara, an environmental engineer, Sadie, a civil engineer, and not-so-hard-hearted Hannah, who works on the NASA aerospace programme, find raunchy romance with Liam of the ‘sequoia-wide biceps’, Erik ‘a corporate version of Thor’ and ‘big…broad’ Ian.

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