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17 February 2017

From Poland to Istanbul, take a trip with this week’s recommended reads

New books from Elif Shafak, Rory MacLean and Howard Jacobson.

By New Statesman

Three Daughters of Eve

Elif Shafak

The three daughters in Elif Shakaf’s latest book are Shirin, Peri and Mona, “the Sinner, the Believer and the Confused”. Shafak has never been one to shy away from sensitive topics (The Bastard of Istanbul led to her being put on trial in 2006 for “insulting Turkishness”), and this story, set between modern Istanbul and the Oxford of the women’s student days, examines faith by way of friendship, Islam, feminism and scandal. This may be a novel of ideas, but Shafak’s evocative prose makes it a novel first and foremost.

Viking, 367pp, £14.99


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Pictures of You: Ten Journeys in Time

Rory MacLean

The Archive of Modern Conflict is a mysterious organisation based in west London that holds an archive of about four million, mostly amateur photographs on the theme of war. MacLean has chosen one archived picture from each decade of the 20th century and imagines the stories behind them. He recounts, among others, the inner life of one of Mao Zedong’s lovers, the kill record of a game hunter during the First World War, and the last thoughts of a Polish pilot burning in the wreckage of his downed plane. This a poignant sort-of history of undocumented lives.

Bone Idle, 192pp, £12/$20


The Dog’s Last Walk (and Other Pieces)

Howard Jacobson

The closure of the Independent last year also brought the end of Howard Jacobson’s 18-year stint as a weekly columnist. This second collection of his newspaper pieces is a reminder of just how good they were: sharp and playful, surreal and thoughtful, and occasionally, as in the opening description of an old Labrador and its owner, rather moving. Ageing, emojis, anti-Semitism and the “erotic gravitas of George Galloway” all get a look-in. Thankfully, Jacobson hasn’t lost his topical touch – his satirical novella about Donald Trump, Pussy, will be coming out in April.

Bloomsbury, 287pp, £18.99

This article appears in the 15 Feb 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The New Times