Malinski, by Siofra O'Donovan (Lilliput, £8.95)


Irish bookshops are brimming with brash new works from young novelists, but there is a danger that softer voices will be overlooked in the general clamour. That's why Siofra O'Donovan's refreshing debut novel deserves notice. Malinski tells of two Polish brothers, separated by war, by experience, by geography and finally by memory. In advance of their first encounter in 49 years, each man's attempt to come to terms with his past only serves to highlight the solitary nature of human experience. O'Donovan's choice of two elderly Polish men for her first fictional characters is ambitious, but her finely crafted descriptions of war-torn Cracow and the poignancy of a prose that is lyrical without being over-stated lend the Malinski brothers a dignity and pathos that rings true.

The Terror of St Trinian's and Other Drawings, by Ronald Searle (Penguin.