Victor Lodato (Head of Zeus, £8.99)

A curious-looking boy with albinism who thinks he resembles an insect, eight-year-old Edgar Allan Fini has only a vague idea about the things that have shaped his life, such as his father’s death and the reason his mother walks with a limp. He and his mother, Lucy, live with his late father’s parents, Lucy leaving the lion’s share of Edgar’s parenting to her mother-in-law, Florence, but when Florence dies the tension between mother and son finally reaches breaking point. Sympathising with the tragic story of his new friend Conrad, Edgar runs off with the man to a remote cabin in New Jersey. This large, sprawling novel starts to fray in the drawn-out later sections, Lodato’s tight hold on the material threatening to slacken, but he pulls it back together in time for an emotional conclusion. It’s beautifully written throughout, touching on dark, dramatic aspects of loss and grief, lightened by judicious touches of humour and beefed up by strong supporting characters.


Oliver Sacks (Picador, £9.99)

In the last book he completed before his death in 2015, the author of The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat looks back once again over subjects that preoccupied him throughout his life. That its’s concerned with themes like consciousness, memory, creativity, evolution and the perception of time should come as no surprise, and the book awakens a sense of wonder familiar to readers of his previous works. As well as the accessible, anecdotal style that made him one of the best-selling of popular science writers, Sacks’ readiness to look beyond the boundaries of his chosen expertise, neuroscience, is a prominent feature of these essays. Given his eclectic, interdisciplinary outlook, it’s fitting that he celebrates the lesser-known work of Darwin and Freud, takes time to lament the passing of the rich, almost “novelistic” notes taken by psychiatrists on their patients in past decades and calls for the century-old schism between neurology and psychiatry finally to be patched up.


Tomás González (Archipelago, £12.48)

Twins Mario and Javier have very different personalities, but are united in their hatred of their arrogant, heartless father, who forces them to accompany him on a fishing trip during a storm to bring back food for the guests of his shabby holiday resort. This novella follows them over a single day and night, the author making detours back to shore, where tourists take the role of a Greek chorus and where the twins’ mother, Nora, ground down by years of her husband’s cruelty, hallucinates voices which bring her dire news of the outside world. At sea, Mario and Javier, suffering constant abuse from their father, are reaching the point when they must make the character-defining decision to fish or to flee. From the acclaimed Colombian author of In the Beginning was the Sea, this is a short book that punches well above its weight, a study of masculinity with an epic grandeur and mythic resonance that belies its small scale.