But N Ben A-Go-Go

Matthew Fitt

Luath Press, £8.99

Dundee-born Fitt has translated JK Rowling and Roald Dahl into Scots, and this novel, originally from 2000 and reissued to mark this year’s UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, is written in a blend of dialects to represent how Scots might sound in 2090. By this time, the ice caps have melted and most of Scotland is submerged, the population retreating to mountain-tops or floating parishes. They live in fear of a mutant strain of HIV which restricts their sex lives to virtual-only encounters, and when Paulo Broon receives a message from his estranged father, he sets off on a journey which could lead to a cure. Ironically, although Paulo and his partner Nadia have never even kissed outside cyberspace, Nadia has had actual sex with his dad, become infected and is in medical stasis. Fitt does some great world-building, intriguing and well thought-out. It’s still a novelty to read SF in Scots, but the ecological message has only got more timely.

Music Love Drugs War

Geraldine Quigley

Penguin, £8.99

Quigley’s debut is set in her native Derry, in 1981, where a group of teenagers is on the verge of leaving school and joining the adult world. In the meantime, their refuge is the Cave club, where they can hang out and drink. In an ensemble piece with multiple viewpoints some voices don’t get their due prominence, but among the main characters is Liz, who aims to be the first in her family to go to college, and Paddy and Christie, who get a buzz from joining in riots. But a friend of theirs is killed during one clash and the repercussions of his death ripple through the group, who have to leave their childhoods behind and make hard decisions that might set them against their families. Soundtracked by post-punk bands, it’s an astute coming-of-age novel of teenagers in a working-class community dominated by division and violence when they just want to have fun and fall in love.

Sex and Lies

Leïla Slimani

Faber & Faber, £12.99

Adele, the first novel by this Moroccan author, concerned a woman who filled her life with affairs and one-night stands. While promoting it in Morocco, Slimani was approached by numerous women desperate to open up to her about living in such a sexually restrictive regime. Sex and Lies is composed of interviews with the women she met on her book tour. Sexual activity is tightly policed in her homeland, with sex outside marriage, abortion and homosexuality all imprisonable offences and virginity the measure of an unmarried woman’s worth. Her interviewees range from educated professional women to sex workers, most of whom, on the surface, live according to traditional values. Their frank discussions about the hypocrisy of public morality, as well as the normalisation of violence and a generalised harshness in all men’s dealings with women, are a saddening and exasperating read, but Slimani is giving them a voice and hopefully making this book a small part of a movement for change.