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4 November 2015updated 07 Sep 2021 10:19am

Menacing new fiction, political odd couples and the European Lydia Davis

This week the New Statesman recommends books by Wayne Price, Dorthe Nors and Giles Radice.

By New Statesman

Karate Chop/Minna Needs Rehearsal Space
Dorthe Nors

Dorthe Nors might just be the European Lydia Davis. A writer of short, ruminative stories tackling abusive relationships, wily mothers and dead herons, she is the only Dane to have fiction published by the New Yorker. Pushkin Press has collected 15 of her best stories together with a novella, Minna Needs Rehearsal Space, translated into English for the first time by Martin Aitken and written in single-sentence paragraphs – “a novel in headlines”, as Nors calls it. This is a remarkable book: honest, soothing, emotionally resonant and unlike anything else you are likely to read from this side of the Atlantic.

Pushkin Press, 176pp, £8.99

Mercy Seat
Wayne Price

The Scottish publishing house Freight Books was formed in 2011 with the intention of getting debut and deserving but spurned authors into print. It quickly garnered a clutch of awards and nominations. Wayne Price’s Mercy Seat is an example of its taste for carefully wrought and distinctive fiction. It describes what happens to Luke and Jenny, a young couple with a baby son living in a Welsh coastal town, when Jenny’s sister, Christine, comes to stay and the tensions of the sisters’ past invades the present. It’s an accomplished tale with a palpable sense of menace.

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Freight Books, 208pp, £8.99

Odd Couples
Giles Radice

The Labour peer Lord Radice has compiled a book examining “the great political pairings of modern Britain”. His seven double acts range from Churchill and Attlee to Cameron and Clegg. Some, such as Wilson and Heath, were opponents and others, such as Thatcher and Whitelaw, colleagues. Radice argues that whatever their politics, these pairs drove change because one half was an initiator (Thatcher and Blair, for example) and the other a facilitator (Whitelaw and Brown). He makes a persuasive case.

I B Tauris, 304pp, £25

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