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24 February 2021

NS Recommends: New books from Florence de Changy, Allie Morgan, Ethan Hawke and Alice Zeniter

The Disappearing Act by de Changy, The Librarian by Morgan, A Bright Ray of Darkness by Hawke and The Art of Losing by Zeniter.      

By New Statesman

The Disappearing Act by Florence de Changy

On 8 March 2014 Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 took off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport and then disappeared. In the days that followed, the journalist Florence de Changy, then writing for Le Monde, was sent to Malaysia to cover the incident. Immediately she witnessed an alarming mix of misleading statements and insensitivity towards the passengers’ families; the investigation was clearly overwhelming officials. In this eerie yet brilliant work of investigative journalism, de Changy pieces together the truth behind the greatest mystery in the history of modern aviation.

HarperCollins, 432pp, £14.99

[See also: NS Recommends: New books from Małgorzata Szejnert, Sayaka Murata, Megan Rosenbloom and Jenny Erpenbeck]

The Librarian by Allie Morgan

It is no overstatement to say that a new job at a library saved Allie Morgan, whose experiences of depression and trauma had left her disillusioned with life. From behind her new desk, she learned how the library saved its regulars, too: the residents of the local tenement flats who relied on the building’s warmth when their heating was cut off; those who used the computers to apply for jobs; and the elderly readers who found great solace in volume after volume of crime fiction. This is a warm-hearted and eye-opening memoir, which also serves as a passionate argument against cuts to public services.

Ebury Press, 304pp, £16.99

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[See also: Patricia Lockwood’s No One is Talking About This is the first great internet novel]

A Bright Ray of Darkness by Ethan Hawke

Film star William Harding is fed up with having his personal life examined in public. The protagonist of this novel, the first in five years from Hawke (best known for his acting role in Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy), is also disgusted at the ways in which he has allowed his marriage to collapse around him. His debut Broadway role offers him a chance at redemption and turns this bracing book into a considered meditation on the evil of celebrity and the demanding yet restorative power of theatre.

William Heinemann, 256pp, £16.99

[See also: How Vanessa Springora’s Consent tries to transcend the #MeToo moment it created]

The Art of Losing by Alice Zeniter Translated by Frank Wynne

This is the story of Naima, who, in modern-day Paris, attempts to uncover the history of her French-Algerian family. The tale spans three generations and includes Naima’s grandfather’s escape to France following the outbreak of the Algerian Revolution, her father’s subsequent attempt to leave behind his roots, and her own disconnection from this original homeland. This pacy, complex piece of historical fiction (which was nominated for France’s most prestigious literary award, the Prix Goncourt) explores the tangled reality of identity.

Picador, 480pp, £16.99


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This article appears in the 24 Feb 2021 issue of the New Statesman, Britain unlocks