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2 December 2020

NS Recommends: New books from William Boyd, Sarah Maslin Nir, Daisy Lafarge, Siobhán McGuirk and Adrienne Pine

Boyd’s Trio, Nir’s Horse Crazy, Lafarge’s Life Without Air, and Asylum for Sale edited by McGuirk and Pine.

By New Statesman

Trio by William Boyd

The trio of the title of William Boyd’s 16th novel comprises a novelist who drinks, a film producer who is gay, and an actress in thrall to pills and an affair. The three are brought together in Brighton in 1968 when they collaborate on a film. Boyd has always been a storyteller first and foremost and he gets to work on the characters’ stories with invisible skill and humour laced with poignancy. The act of creating art, he shows, can be simultaneously foolish and noble.
Viking, 352pp, £18.99

Horse Crazy by Sarah Maslin Nir

A reporter for the New York Times, Sarah Maslin Nir seeks out horses and their owners at every opportunity. Here she interweaves their stories with her own to examine a “world in love with an animal”. Horses provide constancy for Nir, whose childhood was shadowed by her father’s experience of the Holocaust and her “interloper” status in an elite Manhattan school. Whether riding a Marwari with a Rajasthani officer or working as a “cowgirl” for the founder of New York’s Black World Championship Rodeo, Nir eloquently captures the “intimate dialogue” between Equus and us.

Simon & Schuster, 304pp, £20

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Life Without Air by Daisy Lafarge

For anyone who views science and the arts as opposing methods of understanding the world, this debut poetry collection will soon make it clear that it is where the two subjects mingle that is the sweetest spot. In Life Without Air, Lafarge uses the vocabulary of laboratory experiments and natural history to explore playfully her experience of toxic relationships. Her approach may appear scientific, but it is warm-blooded and intimate as much as it is mind-expanding: “my love for you outstretches all the pipework of CERN/is a thing no one has ever said, most likely”.

Granta, 96pp, £10.99

Asylum for Sale edited by Siobhán McGuirk and Adrienne Pine

This important collection, featuring contributions from academics, advocates, activists, artists and asylum seekers (some of whom remain in detention), analyses the transformation of asylum into a for-profit industry, and of those seeking asylum into commodities, as governments around the world outsource adjudication, detention and deportation. The ability to seek asylum “can no longer be considered a universal human right”, contend its co-editors. Yet this timely volume also explores the ways activists are resisting the monetisation of forced displacement, and forging alternatives to the prevailing system.

PM Press, 320pp, £23.99

This article appears in the 02 Dec 2020 issue of the New Statesman, Crashed