Speed Reading - debut novels

Set in rural Ireland, GrĂ¡inne Murphy’s novel is narrated from the perspective of several characters over the course of twenty-four hours. After a bus falls into a sinkhole, a tense drama ensues involving the conflicting emotions and entwined lives of the rescued, those who remain trapped, the media, and the rescue team. The accident serves as the catalyst for Murphy to explore diverse subjects from grief, trauma, faith and identity to the fine line between love and obsession.

Based on a true story, The Stray Cats of Homs by journalist Eva Nour (a pseudonym), explores the brutality of the Syrian conflict. Nour was inspired to write the novel after meeting and falling in love with the real ‘Sami’, the Syrian protagonist who lives through the Homs nightmare. He endures national service, witnesses the death of friends, survives bombing and starvation, before escaping to Lebanon and finding asylum in France. Despite witnessing unspeakable horror, Sami manages to retain his humanity and dignity. 

Jenny and Hank and their two sons live in Bentonville, suburban America, in a ‘smart’ house that anticipates their every need – the fridge even tells them what to buy. Stripped of her agency and questioning her maternal role, Jenny alleviates her boredom by writing to John, in prison for manslaughter. She becomes strangely addicted to the orange ‘glue’ he uses to seal his envelopes. Natasha Randall’s bittersweet debut is about loneliness and the destabilising effects of technology – confessions are delivered by text to the local priest with unexpected consequences.

Originally published by the Tablet.