year old boy Sam with the dying father; the recently widowed man; the lonely army wife fearing for the life of her husband; and the young man working as a nightwatchman at Old Sarum. And some part of their lives has touched the other in some way. As Liam the security guard says: Stories weave into one another. Lives intertwine. And the result of tracing these patterns through the air is that you begin to know the air they are moving through a little better. This is a very fluent first novel, contentedly un-showy, and yet in its empathetic delineation of grief and loss, finally, very moving. Addlands by Tom Bullough (Granta £14.99) begins – a world and a lifetime away from our own present-day metropolitan concerns – with the birth of a son Oliver in 1941 to Idris and Etty, hill farmers on the Welsh borders. It traces Oliver’s life and that of the borderland landscape through seventy years, as the future in all its forms gradually arrives and the old ways recede. This is a beautifully-pitched slow ballad of a novel, the story of a barreling man and his mother.
It is a slim book but nevertheless one that requires, in places, a strong stomach. Ostensibly the story of a married woman who decides that she will no longer eat meat in a society where such a thing is still anathema. It is of course, about much more than that. Once read, it will stay with you for a long time. In A Walk in the Park (Jonathan Cape £18.99) Travis Elborough writes an erudite history of ‘a people’s institution’, a concept that the author explains is less to do with something that we might have thought had always existed, and – in many cases at least – more to do with entrepreneurial invention. One fact from this gloriously rigorous book: Joseph Paxton designed the park in Birkenhead that would in turn become the inspiration for Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux when they came to design and build Central Park in New York @BooksellerCrow
Any one of the three books above, and indeed all of them, should rightly be in the running for one of this year’s incoming book awards. One book that did win an prize is the south Korean novel, The Vegetarian by Han Kang translated by Deborah Smith (Granta £7.99) which recently won the Man Booker International Prize. 43
A South London Magazine