Threads by Julia Blackburn (Vintage, £16.99)

John Craske was a fisherman from Sheringham in Norfolk, born in 1881, who in 1917 was afflicted by a “stuporous state”, which he drifted in and out of for the rest of his life. His lucid, active time was filled with painting and, later, embroidery depicting the sea and the coastline. Julia Blackburn has managed to locate 60 of his works, and tries here to piece together the life of this almost forgotten and poorly documented artist. It’s one of those books that’s as much about the author’s quest for knowledge as about the subject himself. Luckily, Blackburn’s contacts usually had interesting stories to tell, albeit rarely about John Craske, and we get to learn quite a bit about Sheringham and the fishing culture in which he grew up. Included are many colour pictures of the artist’s striking embroideries and paintings: naïve, untutored, but executed with undeniable skill and the sense of an intimate acquaintance with life on the open seas.

Mr Iyer Goes To War by Ryan Lobo (Bloomsbury, £8.99)

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Don Quixote is reimagined as a venerable old Tamil Brahmin in this photographer and filmmaker’s debut novel. Mr Iyer is living out his twilight years in a home by the Ganges, but after a blow to the head he announces that he is an incarnation of the deity Bh?ma and, pausing only to pick up his own Sancho Panza in the shape of lower-caste undertaker Bencho, he sets off down the filthy, polluted river on the trail of his old adversary, the demon Baksura. Quoting Vedic wisdom as he goes, Mr Iyer tries to do good deeds, but is so divorced from reality that he’s oblivious to their actual consequences. Transplanting Cervantes’ knight into a new cultural context with its own distinct tradition of honour and holiness is a clever idea, acknowledging the perennial follies of daft old men while commenting on present-day India. Despite some flaws with pacing and its own episodic structure, it’s a creditable first novel.

A Beautiful Young Wife by Tommy Wieringa (Scribe, £7.99)

Translated from the Dutch, this novella is told from the perspective of Edward, a virologist based in Utrecht who, at 42, gets involved with Ruth, 15 years his junior. It chronicles the undramatic, incremental collapse of their relationship. Ruth’s father voices concern early on that the difference in their ages will become more apparent in time, knocking Edward’s confidence somewhat. What’s more, Edward’s work involves animal testing and forging close connections with big pharma, which goes down badly with the vegetarian, animal-loving Ruth. Both seemingly well aware of the cracks in their relationship, they decide to have a baby, but rather than bringing them together the new arrival merely accelerates their breakup and Edward embarks on an affair. Throughout, what is most impressive about A Beautiful Young Wife is its awkward truthfulness. Literature may be dominated by the voice of the middle-aged male psyche, but you rarely find it expressed as honestly as Tommy Wieringa does here.