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Paperbacks

The Kama Sutra Diaries, by Sally Howard (Nicholas Brealey, £9.99)

The Kama Sutra Diaries, by Sally Howard (Nicholas Brealey, £9.99)

Not what you might be expecting from the title, this is an intelligent and informative look at changing sexual attitudes and behaviour in India.

It includes tackling the increasingly hostile attitudes towards women, from the notorious gang-rape on a bus of a 23-year-old woman student Delhi last December that made the world notice, to an 'epidemic' of domestic murders that have inspired feminist flash-mobs and demonstrations.

Barbara, by Jorgen-Frantz Jacobsen (Dedalus Books, £9.99)

Barbara is a woman who has seen her first two husbands die, both parsons, and been engaged to a third.

In the small environment of the Faroe Islands, she is reaching something of a mythical deadly status, but Jacobsen's prose is more deadpan than that.

First published in 1939, it has curiosity value, although it does feel dated.

Samuel Beckett: Collected Poems, Edited by Sean Lawlor and John Pilling (Faber, £25)

This collection includes volumes of poetry that Beckett collected together in his own lifetime, like Echo's Bones, but it also has many previously unpublished poems and poems in translation.

There is a huge variety therefore in form - some are like scribbled notes, others like epics - but in content, existential crisis pervades them all. An extraordinary volume.

The Suitors, By Cecile David-Weill (Other Press, £11.99)

The suitors are rich men courted by two sisters in order to save their parents' beloved summer retreat from being sold off.

Whilst elegantly written as an Austen-style French modern comedy of manners, as a series of unsuitable men appear on the horizon it has a certain stiffness that does not quite draw you in.

Lesley McDowell

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