Dani Shapiro

Daunt Books, £9.99

Despite putting up with lifelong scepticism that a blonde Nordic-featured woman like herself could be an Orthodox Jew, Dani Shapiro submitted a DNA sample to a genealogy firm “as nothing more than a lark”, never suspecting it would turn her world upside-down. The revelation that her father was not her biological father set her off on a search for the truth – a search that turned out to be surprisingly short. But having found her real father relatively easily, the bigger challenge was in coming to terms with how that discovery had affected her sense of heritage, and in understanding how much her parents really knew about how Shapiro came into the world. Gradually, a picture develops of the circumstances of her conception and the enigmatic fertility doctor who facilitated it. Or did he? Moving and emotionally raw, Shapiro’s memoir opens out from a painful reassessment of her life to grapple with the ethics of reproductive medicine in the 1960s.

The Summer House

Philip Teir

Serpent’s Tail, £8.99

The Finnish-Swedish author’s second novel follows Erik, Julia and their two children as they travel from Helsinki to a cabin on the Finnish coast where they plan to spend the summer. They all have their reservations about the two months ahead of them. Erik hasn’t told Julia yet that he has lost his job. Julia, who plans to spend the holiday writing a book, feels a gulf opening up between them and is already imagining life as a single parent. Alice, 12, and Anton, 10, are also uneasy, a feeling that isn’t helped by spooky signs that something out there isn’t right, and the people they encounter only heighten the awkwardness. The tension in this character-based novel never quite breaks into a cathartic climax, though it does arrive at a resolution of sorts. Teir’s strength, in this understated but psychologically astute novel, is in creating an environment in which the fault lines in the family’s dynamic are intensified by their surroundings.

Mac & His Problem

Enrique Vila-Matas

Harvill Secker, £14.99

Having lost his job in construction, Mac Vives has started keeping a diary, but despite his literary ambitions he has no intention of turning it into a novel. He decides that when he does write a book it will be a rewrite of Walter’s Problem, a collection of short stories pastiching the styles of other authors, by his neighbour, Ander Sánchez. From then on, Mac starts noticing aspects of Walter’s Problem encroaching on his life. One of its stories prompts the suspicion that Sánchez is having an affair with his wife, Carmen, and the people around him appear to be living out storylines from the book. As the barriers between fiction and reality erode, Mac also reveals how unreliable a narrator he is. In this lively and inquisitive work of metafiction, a story about stories, Vila-Matas is as deliberate as he is playful, and induces the not altogether unpleasant sensation of getting lost ever deeper in a literary hall of mirrors.