Archangel by Henry Shukman (Jonathan Cape, £10)

Shukman's moving and narrative-led poems take their inspiration from the forced repatriation of several thousand Jewish tailors from London to Russia, to fight on the Eastern Front in 1917. The tragedy of forced separation changes family dynamics in both contemporary poems like The Beggar Father ("the true prodigal is always the father") and historical ones.

I Am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits (Vintage, £7.99)

Punctuated with moments rather than constructed like a seamless narrative, and often opaque in places, this novel takes time to weave its spell, and to take us into the heart of the Hasidic community in New York, where two Hungarian-Romanian Jewish children orphaned during the barbarity of the Second World War are sent to begin new lives.

Raylan by Elmore Leonard (Phoenix, £7.99)

Leonard's dizzyingly economical style, packed with information and never wasting a word, continues apace in this unusual case where Federal Marshall Raylan Givens investigates a team who are stealing kidneys from unsuspecting victims then selling them back to them. It's a masculine style where female characters aren't any less hard or involved.

An Honourable Man by Gillian Slovo (Virago, £7.99)

General Gordon's death in Khartoum shocked Victorian Britain and marked the beginning of the end of the Empire. Slovo has an efficient, polished style that allows for both the expanse of war and the intimacy of a problem marriage, as she depicts her young doctor, on a fated rescue mission to Gordon, and his wife, Mary, struggling to cope.

Lesley McDowell