Tom Crewe was born in Middlesbrough in 1989. He has a PhD in nineteenth century British history from the University of Cambridge. Since 2015, he has been an editor at the London Review of Books, to which he contributes essays on politics, art, history and fiction. Boyd Tonkin, Chair of Judges, praised how the book:
…re-imagines the lives of the late Victorian writers Havelock Ellis and John Addington Symonds in the immediate aftermath of the trials and imprisonment of Oscar Wilde. The fictionalised characters – John and Henry, and their wives Catherine and Edith – are brought to vivid life by Crewe, who writes about their social, intellectual and erotic lives with extraordinary verisimilitude. Wonderfully precise about things that themselves do not always seem appropriate to precision, the novel considers the similarities between desire and intellectual life, which both risk producing things that may ultimately prove abortive or bathetic. Crewe stays brilliantly faithful to the language, the outlook and the conventions of 1890s London even as he shows, and investigates, the distance between then and now. With compassion, lucidity and poise he explores both the creation of new sexual identities and the nature of social activism, as the ideals of liberation tangle with shame, fear and doubt.”
It’s 1895. Amid laundry and bruises, Rina Pierangeli Faccio gives birth to the child of the man who raped her – and who she has also been forced to marry. Unbroken, she determines to change her name; and her life, alongside it.
1902. Romaine Brooks sails for Capri. She has barely enough money for the ferry, nothing for lunch; her paintbrushes are bald and clotted… But she is sure she can sell a painting – and is fervent in her belief that the island is detached from all fates she has previously suffered.
In 1923, Virginia Woolf writes: I want to make life fuller – and fuller. Told in a series of cascading vignettes, featuring a multitude of voices, After Sappho is Selby Wynn Schwartz’s joyous reimagining of the lives of a brilliant group of feminists, sapphists, artists and writers in the late 19th and early 20th century as they battle for control over their lives; for liberation and for justice.
Sarah Bernhard – Colette – Eleanora Duse – Lina Poletti – Josephine Baker – Virginia Woolf… these are just a few of the women (some famous, others hitherto unsung) sharing the pages of a novel as fierce as it is luminous. Lush and poetic; furious and funny; in After Sappho, Selby Wynn Schwartz has created a novel that celebrates the women and trailblazers of the past and also offers hope for our present, and our futures.
It’s 1913 and a young, carefree and recklessly innocent girl, Mina, goes out into the forest on the edge of the Baltic sea and meets a gang of rowdy young men with revolution on their minds. It sounds like a fairy tale but it’s life.
The adventure leads to flight, emigration and a new land, a new language and the pursuit of idealism or happiness – in Liverpool. But what of the stories from the old country; how do they shape and form the next generations who have heard the well-worn tales?
From the flour mills of Latvia to Liverpool suburbia to post-war Soho, The Story of the Forest is about myths and memory and about how families adapt in order to survive. It is a story full of the humour and wisdom we have come to relish from this wonderful writer.
In Bournville, a placid suburb of Birmingham, sits a famous chocolate factory. For eleven-year-old Mary and her family in 1945, it’s the centre of the world. The reason their streets smell faintly of chocolate, the place where most of their friends and neighbours have worked for decades. Mary will go on to live through the Coronation and the World Cup final, royal weddings and royal funerals, Brexit and Covid-19. She’ll have children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Parts of the chocolate factory will be transformed into a theme park, as modern life and the city crowd in on their peaceful enclave.
As we travel through seventy-five years of social change, from James Bond to Princess Diana, and from wartime nostalgia to the World Wide Web, one pressing question starts to emerge: will these changing times bring Mary’s family – and their country – closer together, or leave them more adrift and divided than ever before?
Bournville is a rich and poignant new novel from the bestselling, Costa award-winning author of Middle England. It is the story of a woman, of a nation’s love affair with chocolate, of Britain itself.
Birnam Wood is on the move…
Five years ago, Mira Bunting founded a guerrilla gardening group: Birnam Wood. An undeclared, unregulated, sometimes-criminal, sometimes-philanthropic gathering of friends, this activist collective plants crops wherever no one will notice, on the sides of roads, in forgotten parks, and neglected backyards. For years, the group has struggled to break even. Then Mira stumbles on an answer, a way to finally set the group up for the long term: a landslide has closed the Korowai Pass, cutting off the town of Thorndike. Natural disaster has created an opportunity, a sizable farm seemingly abandoned.
But Mira is not the only one interested in Thorndike. Robert Lemoine, the enigmatic American billionaire, has snatched it up to build his end-times bunker – or so he tells Mira when he catches her on the property. Intrigued by Mira, Birnam Wood, and their entrepreneurial spirit, he suggests they work this land. But can they trust him? And, as their ideals and ideologies are tested, can they trust each other?
A gripping psychological thriller from the Booker Prize-winning author of The Luminaries, Birnam Wood is Shakespearean in its wit, drama and immersion in character. A brilliantly constructed consideration of intentions, actions, and consequences, it is an unflinching examination of the human impulse to ensure our own survival.
After fifty years in the wilderness of London, Alice wants to live out her days in the land of her birth. But her children are divided on whether she stays or goes . . .
In the wake of their father’s death, the imagined stability of the family begins to fray. Meanwhile youngest daughter Melissa has never let go of a love she lost, and Michael in return, even within the sturdy walls of his marriage to the sparkling Nicole, is haunted by the failed perfection of the past. As Alice’s final decision draws closer, all that is hidden between Melissa and her sisters, Michael and Nicole, rises to the surface . . .
Set against the shadows of a city and a country in turmoil, Diana Evans’s ordinary people confront fundamental questions. How should we raise our children? How to do right by our parents? And how, in the midst of everything, can we satisfy ourselves?
Dancing is the one thing that can solve Stephen’s problems.
At Church with his family, the shimmer of Black hands raised in praise. With his band, making music speaking not just to their hardships, but their joys. Grooving with his best friend, so close their heads might touch. Dancing alone to his father’s records, uncovering parts of a man he has never truly known. His youth, shame and sacrifice.
Stephen has only ever known himself in song. But what becomes of him when the music fades?
Set over the course of three summers, from South London to Ghana and back again, SMALL WORLDS is a novel about the worlds we build for ourselves. The worlds we live, dance and love within.
Demon Copperhead is a once-in-a-generation novel that breaks and mends your heart in the way only the best fiction can.
Demon’s story begins with his traumatic birth to a single mother in a single-wide trailer, looking ‘like a little blue prizefighter.’ For the life ahead of him he would need all of that fighting spirit, along with buckets of charm, a quick wit, and some unexpected talents, legal and otherwise.
In the southern Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, poverty isn’t an idea, it’s as natural as the grass grows. For a generation growing up in this world, at the heart of the modern opioid crisis, addiction isn’t an abstraction, it’s neighbours, parents, and friends. ‘Family’ could mean love, or reluctant foster care. For Demon, born on the wrong side of luck, the affection and safety he craves is as remote as the ocean he dreams of seeing one day. The wonder is in how far he’s willing to travel to try and get there.
Suffused with truth, anger and compassion, Demon Copperhead is an epic tale of love, loss and everything in between.
“Come of age in the credit crunch. Be civil in a hostile environment. Step out into a world of Go Home vans. Go to Oxbridge, get an education, start a career. Do all the right things. Buy a flat. Buy art. Buy a sort of happiness. But above all, keep your head down. Keep quiet. And keep going.
The narrator of Assembly is a Black British woman. She is preparing to attend a lavish garden party at her boyfriend’s family estate, set deep in the English countryside. At the same time, she is considering the carefully assembled pieces of herself. As the minutes tick down and the future beckons, she can’t escape the question: is it time to take it all apart?”
“there are more things is a novel about two women – Melissa and Catarina.
Born to a well-known political family in Olinda, Brazil, Catarina grows up in the shadow of her dead aunt, Laura. Melissa, a South London native, is brought up by her mum and a crew of rebellious grandmothers.
In January 2016, Melissa and Catarina meet for the first time, and, as political turmoil unfolds across Brazil and the UK, their friendship takes flight. Their story takes us across continents and generations – from the election of Lula to the London riots to the darkest years of Brazil’s military dictatorship.
there are more things builds on the unique voice of Yara’s debut to create a sweeping novel about history, revolution and love. In it we see sisterhood and queerness, and, perhaps, glimpse a better way to live.”
“It begins with a message: a telephone call informing Krishan that his grandmother”s former care-giver, Rani, has died in unexpected circumstances, at the bottom of a well in her village in the north, her neck broken by the fall. The news arrives on the heels of an email from Anjum, an activist he fell in love with four years earlier while living in Delhi, bringing with it the stirring of distant memories and desires.
As Krishan makes the long journey by train from Colombo into the war-torn Northern Province for the funeral, so begins a passage into the soul of an island devastated by violence. Written with precision and grace, A Passage North is a poignant memorial for the missing and the dead, and a luminous meditation on time, consciousness, and the lasting imprint of the connections we make with others.”
It is 1985, in an Irish town. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, Bill Furlong, a coal and timber merchant, faces into his busiest season. As he does the rounds, he feels the past rising up to meet him — and encounters the complicit silences of a people controlled by the Church.
Adam Roberts, Chair of The Orwell Prize for Political Fiction 2022, commented:
“Sterling is arrested one morning without having done anything wrong. Plunged into a terrifying and nonsensical world, Sterling – with the help of their three best friends – must defy bullfighters, football players and spaceships in order to exonerate themselves and to hold the powers that be to account.
Sterling Karat Gold is Kafka’s The Trial written for the era of gaslighting – a surreal inquiry into the real effects of state violence on gender-nonconforming, working-class and black bodies.
Following the Goldsmiths Prize–nominated We Are Made of Diamond Stuff, Isabel Waidner’s latest novel proposes community, inventiveness and the stubborn refusal to lie low as antidotes against marginalisation and towards better futures.”
“A storm, a disappearance, a band of women and a remote island where anything is possible.
On an unnamed archipelago off the east coast of Britain, Eva Levi has made it her life’s work to build a community truly run by women. Now she has disappeared, rumours spread that it will be destroyed. But Cwen will never let that happen.
Cwen has been here longer than the civilisation she has returned to haunt. Her name has ancient roots, reaching down into the earth and halfway around the world. The islands she inhabits have always belonged to women. And she will do anything she can to protect them.
This remarkable novel is a portrait of female power and female potential, both to shelter and to harm. It reaches into our mythical past and opens up space for us to dream of a radical future.”
“Perched on a hill above a village by the sea, the high house has a mill, a vegetable garden and a barn full of supplies.
Caro and her younger half-brother, Pauly, arrive there one day to find it cared for by Grandy and his granddaughter, Sally. Not quite a family, they learn to live together, and care for one another.
But there are limits even to what the ailing Grandy knows about how to survive, and, if the storm comes, it might not be enough.”
“Mr Lloyd has decided to travel to the island by boat without engine – the authentic experience.
Unbeknownst to him, Mr Masson will also soon be arriving for the summer. Both will strive to encapsulate the truth of this place – one in his paintings, the other by capturing its speech, the language he hopes to preserve.
But the people who live on this rock – three miles long and half-a-mile wide – have their own views on what is being recorded, what is being taken and what is given in return. Soft summer days pass, and the islanders are forced to question what they value and what they desire. As the autumn beckons, and the visitors head home, there will be a reckoning.”
“A highly inventive and and humane novel about our relationship with technology and our addiction to innovation.
‘Are they paying you extra for this? You’d better be getting something. For the inconvenience, I mean. Here for the whole weekend is what they said. What if we’d had guests? They never asked. And in any case what are the dangers? Being tested like lab rats, we are. Did they even try to provide any assurance it was all perfectly-‘
This is the prototype. The first step to a new future.
A future that will be easy and abundant. A future in which distance is no longer a barrier to human contact. And all it takes is a simple transport unit, in every home, every street, every town. Quick. Clean. Easy. A future driven by data, not emotion.
And so begins the journey of a new technology that will soon change the world and everyone in it – the sceptics and the converts, the innocents and the evangelists. A scientific wonder that quickly becomes an everyday aspect of life.
But what of our inherent messiness? In a world preoccupied with progress, what will happen to the things that make us human: the memories, the fears, the love, the blood, the contradictions, the mortality? As we push for a sense of perfection, what do we stand to lose?
Questioning, innovative and shot through with a rich humanity, Appliance is much more than a novel. It examines our faith in technology, our hunger for new things and the rapid changes affecting all our lives. It challenges us to stop and reflect on the future we want, the systems we trust, and what really matters to us.”