Browser: Anna Wiener takes us through the looking glass behind our screens

Brief reviews of After Emily; Two Remarkable Women and the Legacy of America’s Greatest Poet, by Julie Dobrow; A Tall History of Sugar, by Curdella Forbes; The Dregs of the Day, by Máirtín Ó Cadhain; The Mercies, by Kiran Millwood Hargrave; A House for Two Pounds, by Kathleen Iggulden

Bronze bust of Máirtín Ó Caidhain. Photograph: Kevin McMahon

Uncanny Valley
By Anna Wiener
4th Estate, £12.99
Wow. Anna Wiener may take a bow for this swaggy memoir. Aged 25, she leaves a New York publishing job for the boundless horizons of Silicon Valley. Amid "the optimism of capital, power, and opportunity," it seems that all that glisters is indeed gold. And yet … "Uncanny valley" is a concept used in robotics to describe how feelings towards humanoid objects turn from empathy to revulsion as those objects begin to resemble humans too much. The vaguely sketched start-up world with its barely-out-of-puberty bosses is an entity unto which Wiener, at first, can project meaning and potential. But a queasy sense of unease simmers. What she's doing – data analytics – grows all the more real and more grotesque. By holding the mirror to herself, Wiener takes us through the looking glass, behind our screens, to a much larger and insidious culture. – Niamh Donnelly

After Emily; Two Remarkable Women and the Legacy of America's Greatest Poet
By Julie Dobrow
WW Norton
Emily Dickinson is a figure about whom much is written and yet much mystery remains. The latest addition to the extensive library about the Belle of Amherst, is a literary biography of the two women, most responsible for the poet's initial posthumous publication. Mabel Loomis Todd, illicit mistress of Emily's brother, Austin Dickinson, and her daughter, Millicent Todd Bingham, dedicated their lifetimes to the editing, publication and promotion of Emily Dickinson's work. This involved controversial editorial decisions, heated legal battles and irreconcilable relations with the poet's family. Importantly, these women also played a role in curating the image of the poet, as we know her today. As the author succinctly puts it; "the key to their influence on Emily Dickinson lies in the drama and tragedy of their own lives and their complicated relationship with each other". – Brigid O'Dea

A Tall History of Sugar
By Curdella Forbes
Canongate, £11.99
Moshe Fisher, the central protagonist of Curdella Forbes' latest novel, is found floating in a basket in Jamaica in 1958 by the woman who will become his mother. This strange orphan has two-tone hair and pale, almost translucent skin that marks him apart from his peers from the beginning. Until he meets Arriene, the novel's narrator and the one person with whom he feels an existential connection. Forbes' novel has the register of a fairytale or a myth; Arriene's narration flows in storytelling fashion and is as intimate as a tale shared around a campfire. Moshe himself becomes a cipher through which Forbes explores issues of racism, heritage, colonialism and identity. Forbes' skilful and instinctual use of local languages and dialects further taps into a rich Jamaican oral culture, in a story that dreams of being read aloud. – Becky Long

The Dregs of the Day
By Máirtín Ó Cadhain
Yale University Press Pages. 160 £9.99
N wanders Dublin trying to arrange his wife's funeral but seems incapable of completing the task, as if in a dream; as if trapped in his own living coffin. Kafkaesque. He's on the run from dreams, ghouls and civil servants, security guards and cops, in a world where there are "the good ones" and "the bad ones". Catholic morality hangs over all. There is some of the existential threadbareness of Beckett married to the comic detail of Flann and a bit of European literature's philosophic inquiry. The book is cynical bordering on misanthropic – a sort of inverse companion piece to Ó Cadhain's famous novel The Dirty Dust – where the dead bicker eternally reliving trivialities. Unique, funny and bursting with earthy exuberant language. – Kevin Gildea


The Mercies
By Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Picador, £14.99
Kiran Millwood Hargrave has written several innovative and lyrical novels for children, with The Girl of Ink and Stars winning the Waterstones Children's Book Prize in 2017. Her latest title, The Mercies, is her first for adults. Set on the remote Norwegian island of Vardø in the early 1600s, Millwood Hargrave's narrative follows Maren Magnusdatter and the lengths she and the women of her community must go to in order to survive the loss visited on them by a tragic storm. Combining elements of the historical novel with magical realism, the narrative weaves an almost mythical tale, a fable about love, oppression and freedom that unfolds at the edge of the world. Haunting and beautiful in equal measure, The Mercies is an intimate telling of an essential universal story. – Becky Long

A House for Two Pounds
By Kathleen Iggulden
Michael Joseph, £9.99
Kathleen Iggulden (née Moran) grew up on a farm near Midleton, Co. Cork, in the 1930s and 1940s and recounts its seasonal rituals of saving the hay and corn, tending to the animals etc. in loving detail. Wakes, threshing, "the Stations" and dances at the crossroads were the main social occasions. Religion was a central part of their lives, with the rosary, Sunday Mass and feasts of the church all carefully observed. She and her sister became nuns but she left and subsequently married. There are many funny anecdotes such as family legends about ghosts and her father's efforts at matchmaking, and while most of the memories are rose-tinted, some of the hair-raising and life-threatening ones are not. So much of what she writes about has gone but her great love for the people of her native place shines through this well-written memoir. – Brian Maye