The Assault on Truth by Peter Oborne
The British journalist Peter Oborne’s latest book is a thorough and salient account of how the increase in lies and populist rhetoric in modern politics is jeopardising truth and democracy. Comparing postwar Britain with today, it holds Boris Johnson and Donald Trump to account and exposes the failings of the media in enabling both leaders’ ascent to power. The book, which asks difficult questions and reveals uncomfortable truths, is an urgent examination of politics today.
Simon & Schuster, 192pp, £12.99
Aftershocks by Nadia Owusu
When Nadia Owusu is seven years old, two “earthquakes” strike, one seismic – in Armenia – and one psychic: the temporary reappearance of her estranged mother. Objectively unrelated, the twin calamities inaugurate the central metaphor of this probing memoir. Her childhood is full of upheaval, both geographic – the family moves between Tanzania, England, Italy, Ethiopia, and Uganda – and emotional: her father dies when she is 13. Years later, a disturbing revelation about the alleged circumstances of his death provides one of the memoir’s more obvious “aftershocks” – “the Earth’s delayed reaction to stress”. But the psychological repercussions of loss abound in Owusu’s story which is, ultimately, a quest for a sense of home.
Hodder & Stoughton, 320pp, £16.99
Mouthpieces by Eimear McBride
Eimear McBride’s bold, fractured fiction is all about voice: her brilliant, mould-breaking debut A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing was powerfully adapted for the stage by Annie Ryan, with the actress Aoife Duffin delivering McBride’s rhythmic, crackling prose in an uninterrupted 80-minute monologue. The three works of Mouthpieces – a tiny, 40-page book – were originally commissioned for RTÉ radio, and performed by Duffin (and McBride herself). Though they are brief, these Beckettian pieces – touching on madness, violence and sexism – have savage bite.
Faber & Faber, 48pp, £3.99
Bolt from the Blue by Jeremy Cooper
A novel in epistolary form, the writer and art historian’s latest work is both an intimate account of a mother-daughter relationship and a lively history of London’s art scene. It is October 1985 when Lynn moves to the capital to study at Saint Martin’s, later making a successful career as an artist. She and her mother, who is back at home in Birmingham, begin a 30-year-long written relationship – via letters, postcards and emails. Their contact is irregular, and by turns affectionate and combative, making the relationship feel engrossing, deep and utterly true.
Fitzcarraldo Editions, 264pp, £12.99
[see also: NS Recommends: New books from Florence de Changy, Allie Morgan, Ethan Hawke and Alice Zeniter]
This article appears in the 03 Mar 2021 issue of the New Statesman, Humanity vs the virus