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

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


by Dan Rhodes (Lightning £14.99, 200 pp)

This hilarious satire has had his share of disagreements with the literary establishment. He has had a dispute with publishers, mocked prizes he was nominated for, and has privately published his first 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.

A group of English villages, collectively known as The Bottoms, decides to host a literary festival. They can’t have foreseen the chaos and misery that would ensue. Wilberforce Selfram is a hideous egotist who claims he has found a Medieval manuscript and plays a crucial role in this absurd event.

Selfram and his co-contributors are not paid for attending the festival. But, he believes that he can write lucrative articles about Medieval life based upon the disgusting contents. It was a wonderful experience.

GIFTS by Laura Barnett (W&N £12.99, 208 pp)

GIFTS Laura Barnett (W&N £12.99, 208 pp)


by Laura Barnett (W&N £12.99, 208 pp)

I feel aversion to seasonal novels because they are too gimmicky. This was a beautiful, festive tale that I enjoyed.

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, 56 years old, is single and owns a bookshop. 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)

SEESAW 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 author whose first novel was filled with errors and sold only 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 flexible as she thinks. He has no intention to play ball and is kicked from the institution for not finishing a single assignment. Frank is sent on an exciting journey across America after his expulsion. Funny and thought-provoking.

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