Looking for a great read? Here are 10 new books we loved in August

Must-reads from Diarmaid Ferriter, Bernard MacLaverty, Claire-Louise Bennett and more

Must-reads: 10 of our favourite new books in August

Must-reads: 10 of our favourite new books in August

 

The Right to Sex
By Amia Srinivasan
Bloomsbury, £20
When reviewing a book I liked, I try to consider why someone else might not enjoy it. I owe you that courtesy as none of us has endless time and money (though I understand Elon Musk is working on both). Believe me, I’ve thoroughly audited why anyone should skip The Right to Sex, and I couldn’t think of any reasons. Amia Srinavasan’s work is too interesting to be perfect. It’s superb. Read Naoise Dolan’s full review here

The Last Prince of Bengal: A Family’s Journey from an Indian Palace to the Australian Outback
By Lyn Innes
The Westbourne Press, £20
The trouble with modernity is that, as Edward Said once observed, we all come from so many places at once. Such transitions can exhaust some and inspire others. They have brought forth from Lyn Innes not only a spellbinding family history but also a trove of other texts, all invaluable to future scholars. She writes everything from the pressure of felt experience, whether the subject is Countess Markievicz or her mother raising children in the outback. This book is a fitting sequel not just to a family odyssey but to a lifelong intellectual and imaginative project. Read Declan Kiberd’s full review here

Going to My Father’s House: A History of My Times
By Patrick Joyce
Verso, £25
Patrick Joyce’s Going to My Father’s House is written from inside the world of dual knowledge. It is at once a meditation on change by a pioneer of left-wing social history and the deeply personal story of the son of Irish countrypeople, from Galway and Wexford, who spent their adult lives in west London. If it is fluent in the language of the academy, it carries an understanding of the Irish as a people shaped by silence as surely as by speech. Read Claire Connolly’s full review here

Between Two Hells: The Irish Civil War
By Diarmaid Ferriter
Profile Books, £20
Between Two Hells is a fascinating exploration of the Civil War and its impact on Ireland and Irish politics in the following half-century, rich in insights into how women and men experienced and responded to the calamity of the split and the tawdry violence that followed. This absorbing study begs the question of why Irish politics did not develop along left/right, urban/rural lines, akin to those seen in other newly independent states. Read Eunan O’Halpin’s full review here

Unsettled
By Dr Rosaleen McDonagh
Skein Press, €12.95
Somehow, this tiny book contains enough material to fill many novels over. The settings, the characters, the ideas are rich and stimulating. It’s not a smooth read or an easy one – nor should it be. It is my fervent hope that, having put all of this on the record, McDonagh might go on to write that collection of short stories. What a riot that would be. Read Carol Ballantine’s full review here

The Case of the Murderous Dr Cream: The Hunt for a Victorian Era Serial Killer
By Dean Jobb
Algonquin Books, £21.99
There was a time when Thomas Neill Cream was as famous as Jack the Ripper. This book suggests that his choice of victims plays into our lack of interest, although many notorious killers preyed on similar women. But it’s fascinating to see how a murderer can be identified in a world without CCTV or DNA or even fingerprints, how society operated in a very different time, how small a world it proves to be when murder is your way of life, how rough the hangman’s rope is, how cold the grave. Read Jane Casey’s full review here

Blank Pages and Other Stories
By Bernard MacLaverty
Jonathan Cape, £14.99
A mark of a good short-story collection is when you look at the contents page afterwards and can remember what each story is about without having to check. But rereading Bernard MacLaverty’s Blank Pages and Other Stories is no hardship either, for it is a deft and life-affirming collection by a master of the form. Read Sarah Gilmartin’s full review here

Monument Maker
By David Keenan
White Rabbit, £25
In his book 2666, Roberto Bolaño wrote that reading is as natural as thinking, praying, talking, walking or listening to music. Stephen King contended that 2666 is a novel that cannot really be described but is best “experienced in all its crazed glory”. This also applies to Monument Maker, David Keenan’s most ambitious and accomplished book yet. He has has built a monument, turning history to dust in the process, and delivering a hefty instalment of a literary career where literally anything is possible. Read Eamon Sweeney’s full review here

Checkout 19
By Claire-Louise Bennett
Jonathan Cape, £12.99
Pond was a brief, unique and chic work by a gifted prose stylist; Checkout 19, which delves deeper and more courageously into similar themes (books, sex, isolation and female independence) confirms Bennett’s ingenuity. Thrilling, rich and strange. Read Niamh Campbell’s full review here

Paul
By Daisy Lafarge
Granta, £12.99
In her debut, Daisy Lafarge unsettles brilliantly. The writing is crisp and elegant, the sentences vivid and precise. There is a timelessness, a sort of folk-horror aspect given by the cycle of local festivals, medieval churches, the nightmarish rural isolation and the way in which Lafarge uses documents, found objects, letters and emails to drip-feed information to the reader. That said, the book also feels part of a modern trend for novels on toxic relationships and broken heterosexuality. Read Seán Hewitt’s full review here

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