Anatomy of a Killing by Ian Cobain
On Saturday 22 April 1978, members of the IRA shot dead an off-duty police officer, Millar McAllister, in his own home and in front of his son. McAllister wrote for a pigeon fanciers’ magazine in his spare time: that is how the IRA found his details. More than 3,700 deaths occurred in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, but Ian Cobain, the former Guardian investigative journalist, focuses on just this case. In this compelling, forensic account of a murder among many, Cobain surveys the broader truths of the Troubles through the granular detail of one tragedy.
Granta, 288pp, £18.99
Ramifications by Daniel Saldaña París, translated by Christina MacSweeney
In his second novel, the Mexican writer tells the story of a boy whose mother disappears. It’s 1994 in Mexico City when she goes to join the Zapatista uprising, leaving her son to be raised by a less than capable father. Twenty years on, the narrator looks back to the time of his mother’s flight and tries to unpack the missing details that might still lead him to find her. Ramifications grapples with the earnest naivety of one experiencing trauma far too young, yet, despite the narrator’s successive heartbreaks, remains funny and charming.
Charco Press, 190pp, £9.99
Strangers by Rebecca Tamás
Tamás, primarily a poet, combines radical political thought with personal musings and folk tales in this beautifully designed collection of prose essays. The first, “On Watermelon”, sets out a thesis that is the beating heart of all that follows: “It is Western capitalism that is the reason for every forest fire, every heatwave, every extinction.” And so, Tamás argues, to have a hope of solving any one of the many dilemmas of our age, we must better understand the interconnectedness of the human and the non-human, the self and the other. This is an intriguing and generous guide to uncovering the extent and nuances of those relationships.
Makina Books, 114pp, £12.99
The Golden Rule by Amanda Craig
This sparkling novel has a double-helix plot: one strand is a story of divorce, single motherhood and class; the other a spooky fable. They are, of course, not totally distinct. Protagonist Hannah, a single millennial with a young child, becomes embroiled with a rich woman on a train in a conspiracy to each murder the other’s ex-husband, and Craig weaves an intricate web of lives, all varyingly at risk. Cornwall is the story’s flickering, alluring backdrop, with its idyllic ragged coastline, hidden caves – and stark wealth divide.
Little, Brown, 400pp, £16.99
This article appears in the 25 Nov 2020 issue of the New Statesman, The last days of Trump