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Landscapes of the Metropolis of Death by Otto Dov Kulka (Penguin, £8.99)

Landscapes of the Metropolis of Death by Otto Dov Kulka (Penguin, £8.99)

Kulka's extraordinary memoir of surviving Auschwitz, where he and his mother volunteered to be with the rest of his family, believing it safer than Theresienstadt, exposes heartbreaking but perhaps sanity-preserving gaps in his childhood memory. Did he sit on the floor or on benches during camp lessons? He cannot recall, yet he never forgot his first lesson.

Family Likeness by Caitlin Davies (Windmill, £8.99)

A quickly engaging domestic mystery, this tale centres on a privileged but strangely fractured family, for whom Rosie is employed as a nanny while the father is away on business. But Rosie's mother has her own unspoken past as a child in care, and Davies weaves the two stories together in gently ingenious ways.

Benjamin Britten: A Life for Music by Neil Powell (Windmill, £9.99)

Are musical geniuses born or made? Powell's traditionally structured yet probing biography suggests that early immersion in art by a pushy parent is enough for a child to grown into a genius. Surprisingly then, perhaps, there are few inner demons for the adult Britten, beyond his homosexuality, and even that, for the times, is easily accommodated.

The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout (Simon and Schuster, £7.99)

Strout explores the twists and turns of the relationship between two brothers, Jim and Bob Burgess, which begins in tragedy when, as a child, Bob accidentally kills their father. They have since led very different lives. It's an object lesson in how to handle family dialogue and intrigue, and make it work beautifully and with ease.

Lesley McDowell

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