Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Culture
19 June 2019updated 14 Jul 2021 9:26am

NS Recommends: New books from Ocean Vuong, Steve Jones, and more

By New Statesman

At the Pond: Swimming at the Hampstead Ladies’ Pond

“The Pond was full but I was alone in my sensations, paying attention to what being in the Pond activated within me. This was pleasure,” writes Amy Key, one of 14 contributors to a joyous collection of essays celebrating the sanctuary of the women’s pond on Hampstead Heath. Margaret Drabble, Esther Freud, Sophie Mackintosh and Nell Frizzell also praise the UK’s only wild-swimming place reserved for women, where the water is enjoyed both by the fearless who embrace a refreshing zero degrees during the winter months, and by hordes of sun worshippers come summer.
Daunt Books Publishing, 160pp, £9.99

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous
Ocean Vuong

In On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, a man writes a letter to his mother that she will never read: understanding this, we feel we are witnessing something incredibly private. Ocean Vuong’s debut novel is a profound consideration of identity, as well as a work of sensuous, poetic detail. As the narrator Little Dog writes to his mother in English (a language she cannot read), we are made aware of his sense of invisibility as a Vietnamese-American while becoming totally immersed in his world. This tension between voice and silence is what lends the novel its gentle, dignified attack.
Jonathan Cape, 256pp, £12.99

Here Comes the Sun
Steve Jones

The geneticist Steve Jones’s usual subjects are snails and fruit flies. In his latest book, however, he takes on the sun. It is, he points out, a paradoxical star that both nurtures and destroys us. Jones examines its various benign and malign aspects not just through science and medicine (one of the reasons viruses are more prevalent in winter is that a lack of sunshine reduces our vitamin levels and ability to fight them) but history and economics too. The sun matters, he shows, because it has a role in every part of existence.
Little, Brown, 368pp, £20

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

Content from our partners
How automation can help telecoms companies unlock their growth potential
The pandemic has had a scarring effect on loneliness, but we can do better
Feel confident gifting tech to your children this Christmas

This article appears in the 19 Jun 2019 issue of the New Statesman, Bad news