DEBUTS

DEBUTS

THE OTHER BLACK GIRL by Zakiya Dalila Harris (Bloomsbury £14.99, 368 pp)

THE OTHER BLACK GIRL

by Zakiya Dalila Harris (Bloomsbury £14.99, 368 pp)

Nella is the only black girl working in the editorial department of Wagner Books where she hasn’t experienced much racism, just ‘microagressions’. When Hazel-May is appointed, Nella looks forward to having a potential ally. But it soon becomes clear that the newcomer is not what she seems.

When Nella starts receiving warning notes, telling her to quit her job, she can’t imagine who they’re from. As she searches for answers, tension mounts and she’s dragged into a conspiracy that runs deep through the organisation.

Sewn into the plot is the mysterious disappearance of Kendra Rae, a black editor, who disappeared from Wagner following the publication of a bestseller that she had edited. Where is she now, and what is she doing? This is a beautifully assured debut that is sharp, satirical and fun.

VOYEUR

VOYEUR by Francesca Reece (Tinder Press £16.99, 384 pp)

by Francesca Reece (Tinder Press £16.99, 384 pp)

Three years out of university, Leah is hanging around Paris feeling ‘astronomically useless’ when she is hired to assist a once-celebrated writer, Michael, with his new novel.

Michael soon identifies her as his new muse and invites Leah to join him and his family for summer at their gorgeous house in the south of France where she will transcribe his diaries. As she becomes involved in his family and work, she discovers that there is more to Michael than at first met her eye.

Told from his and her alternating points of view, the novel moves between contemporary France to 1950s Soho and the Greek junta. Michael’s unravelling story was the best part for me but overall this is a sultry novel that shimmers with suspense and a strong sense of period and time.

THE DAY I FELL OFF MY ISLAND by Yvonne Bailey-Smith (Myriad £12.99, 400 pp)

THE DAY I FELL OFF MY ISLAND

by Yvonne Bailey-Smith (Myriad £12.99, 400 pp)

When her grandmother dies, teenager Erna Mullings is sent from her home in Jamaica to ‘Hingland’ to be reunited with her mother and siblings.

She hardly knows her mother and hasn’t seen her brothers and sisters since they were kidnapped by her stepfather.

The first section is an evocative picture of a childhood in Jamaica, full of detail and atmosphere, enriched by the use of Jamaican patois. The final two sections show Erna growing up in cold, grey London where life in her ‘wonderful, rich, dysfunctional family’ throws up conflict and long-buried secrets.

This immersive coming-of-age novel, written by the mother of author Zadie Smith, has themes of family, abuse, racism, mental illness and loss threaded through its pages.

To buy any book reviewed here, visit mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3308 9193  

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