Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Culture
5 February 2020

NS recommends: New books from Toby Ferris, Kiley Reid and Saskia Hamilton

Ferris’s Short Life in a Strange World, Reid’s Such a Fun Age and Saskia Hamilton’s edit of The Dolphin Letters, 1970-1979.

By New Statesman

Short Life in a Strange World  
Toby Ferris

The advent of Toby Ferris’s 42nd birthday sparked him off on a quest to visit each one of the 42 surviving paintings by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. The project had little to do with either Bruegel or painting, and everything to do with Ferris’s own listlessness, exacerbated by the recent death of his father. So packed with life are those 16th-century images that Ferris mined them for insights into the human condition: “birth to death in 42 panels”, as the subtitle has it, but with less weighty digressions, too, on everything from children’s games to mastodons. 

Fourth Estate, 336pp, £20

Such a Fun Age
Kiley Reid

The relationships at the heart of this debut novel interrogate what it is to exist among people to whom you feel unequal. Following Emira, a 25-year-old babysitter, and her employer, Alix, Such a Fun Age takes a shrewd look at race relations, social class and power dynamics. References to Instagram and Childish Gambino make it modern without being try-hard; instead, it weaves an empathetic narrative from the perspectives of two seemingly wildly different women, exploring the layers of privilege involved in contemporary US feminism. 

Bloomsbury Circus, 320pp, £12.99

The Dolphin Letters, 1970-1979
Edited by Saskia Hamilton

“Letters are above all useful as a means of expressing the ideal self,” wrote Elizabeth Hardwick in 1953. This fascinating new collection gathers together correspondence between the writer and her husband, the poet Robert Lowell, from the last seven years of Lowell’s life, the period in which he wrote The Dolphin and she Seduction and Betrayal and Sleepless Nights. The book offers a glimpse into the intimate thoughts of two of the last century’s greatest literary thinkers, and asks: what licence does a writer have to use the lives of others as artistic material? 

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. 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 newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

Faber & Faber, 560pp, £35

This article appears in the 05 Feb 2020 issue of the New Statesman, Europe after Brexit