Speed Reading - Debuts

Mona Arshi is a poet making the transition into novels (her debut collection Small Hands won the Forward Prize in 2015). Somebody Loves You (And Other Stories) Arshi’s fragmented narrative about a British Indian family, is compelling. Ruby stops talking at a young age. Her mother suffers from depression and, while she drifts in and out of their lives, Ruby looks to her sister Rania for support. Arshi paints an unforgettable portrait of a young girl struggling to connect. She’s a former human-rights lawyer, and compassion shines throughout this poignant novel.



Set mainly in Manchester, Adam O’Riordan’s The Falling Thread (Bloomsbury), follows the fortunes of textile businessman Charles Wright and his family from 1890 to the beginning of the First World War. Trapped in an unhappy marriage, Wright inherits his family’s money in cotton. His sister Eloise becomes an artist while Tabitha dabbles in the suffragist movement. Another poet, whose In the Flesh won a Somerset Maugham Award, O’Riordan is strong on atmosphere but several plot strands in this lyrical novel fizzle out.

Sarah Gilmartin is a regular book critic for The Irish Times and a prizewinning writer of short stories. Dinner Party: A Tragedy (One) is about a dysfunctional Irish family. Kate, in her early thirties, is still coming to terms with the death of her twin sister, Elaine, 16 years earlier. The novel travels between past and present as we learn how Elaine died and the devastating effect the tragedy had on a farming family. Gilmartin writes about personal trauma with a sure touch.

Originally published by The Tablet