Earthlings
by Sayaka Murata (Granta)

The follow-up to Convenience Store Woman, this is the story of Natsuki, who as a 10-year-old hopes a spaceship will take her to the planet Popinpobopia and save her from her miserable childhood.

The Rules of Contagion
by Adam Kucharski (Wellcome Collection)

A serendipitously timed look at why things spread, from viruses to political movements to ideas, by a professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

Strange Beasts of China
by Yan Ge, translated by Jeremy Tiang (Tilted Axis)

In a fictional Chinese town, a cryptozoologist goes in search of marvellous monsters, in this playful metaphysical bestiary.

Dead Girls
by Selva Almada, translated by Annie McDermott (Charco Press)

Harrowing but beautifully written journalistic fiction, about three cases of femicide in 1980s Argentina.

Exit Management
by Naomi Booth (Dead Ink)

The property ladder has never been steeper than in this elegant novel about class, loneliness and aspiration in London.

The Dominant Animal
by Kathryn Scanlan (Daunt)

A brilliant collection of short, sharp and darkly unsettling stories.

Appius and Virginia
by GE Trevelyan (Abandoned Bookshop)

Rediscovery of a fascinating 1932 novel about a woman who raises an orangutan as her child.

Three-Fifths
by John Vercher (Pushkin)

Bobby is mixed race, but passes for white in 1995 Pittsburgh. When his best friend Aaron is released from prison as a newly radicalised white supremacist and attacks a young black man with a brick, Bobby is horrified, but also complicit.

The Air Year
by Caroline Bird (Carcanet)

Bird’s sixth poetry collection is shortlisted for the Costa poetry award and winner of the Forward prize for best collection. Judges called it “audacious and erotically charged”.

Marram
by Leonie Charlton (Sandstone)

A pony trek through the Outer Hebrides helps the author come to terms with the death of her mother in this moving memoir.

A Kind of Spark
by Elle McNicoll (Knights Of)

Shortlisted for the Books Are My Bag children’s award and the Blue Peter book prize, this follows 11-year-old Addie, who is autistic, as she campaigns for a memorial in memory of the witch trials that took place in her Scottish hometown.

LOTE
by Shola von Reinhold (Jacaranda)

Part of the #TwentyIn2020 programme for Black British writing, this is the story of Mathilda, who is black, working class and gay, as she becomes transfixed with a forgotten black Scottish modernist poet called Hermia Drumm.

The Shadow King
by Maaza Mengiste (Canongate)

Shortlisted for the Booker prize, this searing novel is set during Italy’s 1935 invasion of Ethiopia and tells the story of the women who went to war.

Mordew
by Alex Pheby (Galley Beggar)

Nathan Treeves, who lives in the slums of a fantastical city, is sold by his mother to the Master of Mordew, in the first in this fantasy trilogy.

Should We Fall Behind
by Sharon Duggal (Bluemoose)

Jimmy finds himself living on the streets of a big city after escaping his difficult life in a small town. When his new friend Betwa disappears, he sets out to find her.

Silver Sparrow
by Tayari Jones (Oneworld)

The author of An American Marriage publishes the story of bigamist James Witherspoon and his two 14-year-old daughters, estranged half-sisters who strike up a friendship, though only one of them knows the truth about his double life.

A Ghost in the Throat
by Doireann Ní Ghríofa (Tramp Press)

Sensational, genre-straddling work of scholarship and memoir in which a woman becomes obsessed with a poem written by an 18th-century Irish noblewoman after her husband’s murder.

Cottongrass Summer
by Roy Dennis (Saraband)

A collection of 52 essays on nature and wildlife from the field naturalist, beginning with cottongrass, which blooms across the wetter moors and bogs, and moving through the seasons.

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