Archives: Political fiction entriesTTTT


A wry and thoroughly wise state-of-the-nation novel which perfectly captures the anxieties of life in modern America: Weather is the work of an author wholly in control of her craft. Offill’s epigrammatic prose is so well observed and beautifully written it begs to be reread, and lingers with the reader well beyond the novel’s final page.”


Ali Smith was born in Inverness in 1962. She is the author of Spring, Winter, Autumn, Public library and other stories, How to be both, Shire, Artful, There but for the, The first person and other stories, Girl Meets Boy, The Accidental, The whole story and other stories, Hotel World, Other stories and other stories, Like and Free Love. Hotel World was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Orange Prize. The Accidental was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Orange Prize. How to be both won the Bailey’s Prize, the Goldsmiths Prize and the Costa Novel of the Year Award, and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Autumn was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2017 and Winter was shortlisted for The Orwell Prize for Books in 2018. Ali Smith lives in Cambridge.

Smith, accepting her prize in a speech next to the mural of Orwell at Southwold Pier in Suffolk, sent this message:

The judges said:

The conclusion to Ali Smith’s seasonal quartet seals her reputation as the great chronicler of our age. Capturing a snapshot of life in Britain right up until the present day, Smith takes the emotional temperature of a nation grappling with a global pandemic, the brink of Brexit, heart-breaking conditions for refugees, and so much more.  It will serve as a time-capsule which will prove to be essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the mood of Britain during this turbulent time.”


Famous for her counterfactual novels about American politics, in Rodham Curtis Sittenfeld brilliantly riffs on what might have happened had Hillary never accepted Bill – at the third time of asking. A beguiling mixture of fact and fiction, this book immerses us in the intricacies and deal-with-the-devil calculations facing anyone hoping to succeed in American politics – particularly a woman! – and captures the inner life of a public figure determined to make a difference, yet also in search of personal happiness.”


Sarah Moss’ microcosm of modern Britain captures the simmering sense of political unease across a cross-section of society. As her characters take turns to share Moss’ spotlight, each of their anxieties about the country’s future are  given context and compassion: it is a sensitive and three-dimensional portrait of a nation on the edge, brimming with tension.”


Set in what was German East Africa in the early years of the 20th century, Afterlives is an exquisite and haunting exploration of lives disrupted by colonial wars, and the chaos that followed the European scramble for Africa. At once subtle and limpid, the narrative interweaves the lives of characters at the mercy of the destructive forces unleashed by colonial struggles for supremacy but determined to grasp what happiness their troubled times will allow them.”


The Vanishing Half

With The Vanishing Half, Brit Bennett confirms her astonishing grasp of the complexities of family life. A superb novel about race, belonging and the lure of the American dream!”

Leave the World Behind

Rumaan Alam’s taut and terrifying disaster novel is a masterclass in dystopian scene-setting and pacing. Skewering consumerism, privilege, and our reliance on technology, Alam highlights the uselessness of societal divisions in the face of shared global catastrophe.  A highly original, eerie, and prescient page-turner which wrestles complex social issues with confidence and verve.”

Shuggie Bain

For all the pain and struggle in Shuggie Bain’s life, the strength of the son’s love for his  mother shines through. Glasgow has its poetic champion. A masterful debut deserving of all the credit it has received.”


An apeirogon is a mathematical term for a shape with a countably infinite number of sides and is used by Colum McCann as a metaphor for the complexity of relationships between Israelis and Palestinians. Despite its abstract-sounding title, McCann’s astonishing novel is utterly and brilliantly grounded in the political realities of everyday life in the Occupied Territories, and the friendship of two men, who have both lost daughters in the conflict, and who forge a moving friendship across the many barriers that would divide them.”

A Lover’s Discourse

With a nod to Barthes, Xialou Guo’s tender novel, movingly glides through a post-Brexit London romance. Wise and poignant fragments, both local and global, ultimately lead to an exhilarating conclusion.”

The Death of Vivek Oji

This novel develops a fascinating group portrait of young Nigerians negotiating the challenges and excitements of adolescence and early adulthood. Modernity and age-old cultural traditions are sometimes in alliance and sometimes pitted against each other, while the novel’s central character must court danger or betray their deepest impulses; the events that propel them towards their early death are narrated by Emezi with elegance, humour and sophistication.”

The Mermaid of Black Conch

A story of love, family, and the colonial past in a Caribbean setting combine in Monique Roffey’s The Mermaid of Black Conch. This magic realist novel is inspired in its conception, deftly written and full of wisdom.”

The Wall

John Lanchester was born in Hamburg in 1962. He has worked as a football reporter, obituary writer, book editor, restaurant critic, and deputy editor of the London Review of Books, where he is a contributing editor. His books have won the Hawthornden Prize, the Whitbread First Novel Prize, E.M Forster Award, and the Premi Llibreter, been longlisted for the Booker Prize, and been translated into twenty-five languages. He is married, has two children and lives in London.


Since her debut novel The Country Girls Edna O’Brien has written over twenty works of fiction along with a biography of James Joyce and Lord Byron. She is the recipient of many awards including the Irish Pen Lifetime Achievement Award, the American National Art’s Gold Medal and the Ulysses Medal. Born and raised in the west of Ireland she has lived in London for many years.

Ducks, Newburyport

Lucy Ellmann is the author of Ducks, Newburyport, which won the 2019 Goldsmiths Prize, and was shortlisted for the 2019 Booker Prize and Saltire Fiction Book of the Year Award. She was born in Illinois and dragged to England as a teenager. Her first novel, Sweet Desserts, won the Guardian Fiction Prize. It was followed by Varying Degrees of Hopelessness, Man or Mango? A Lament, Dot in the Universe, Doctors & Nurses and Mimi. She now lives in Edinburgh.

Broken Jaw

Minoli Salgado is the author of A Little Dust on the Eyes (Peepal Tree Press, 2014), which won the first SI Leeds Literary Prize and was longlisted for the DSC Prize in South Asian Literature, and Writing Sri Lanka: Literature, Resistance and the Politics of Place (Routledge, 2007). Her short stories and poems have been published internationally and she was selected as the Olympic poet for Sri Lanka for the Cultural Olympiad in London 2012. She is Professor of International Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University.

To Calais, in Ordinary Time

James Meek is the author of six novels. He has also written two collections of short stories and two books of non-fiction, Private Island, which won the 2015 Orwell Prize and Dreams of Leaving and Remaining. He is a Contributing Editor to the London Review of Books and writes regularly for the Guardian and New York Times. He lives in London.

This Paradise

Ruby Cowling was born in Bradford and now lives in London. This Paradise is her first book. Her stories have won The White Review Prize (2014) and the London Short Story Prize (2014) among others and been widely published in journals and anthologies, including Lighthouse, The Letters Page, Unthology, and The Lonely Crowd.