Michael Rips

Daunt, £9.99

As New York’s Garment District declined, a legion of subcultures moved in, at weekends descending on the enormous Chelsea flea market on 6th Avenue, where they sifted through junk and treasure for “rare yet inexpensive” items to decorate their apartments. Michael Rips had grown up in a family that disdained possessions, but shortly after moving into the Chelsea Hotel he discovered the market and got bitten by the collecting bug. Over two decades, he got to know the vendors of “the flea” while filling his apartment to the brim with his acquisitions. The Golden Flea is a celebration of the colourful characters that made up this “pious society” and a memorial to a vibrant part of New York now buried under concrete and glass. But there’s a vein of sadness and waste to it too, as Rips recounts the spiralling obsession, delusion and hoarding that accompanied his acceptance into the inner circle.


Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Picador, £8.99

Adapted by Kawaguchi from his own play, and translated by Geoffrey Trousselot, these four interconnected stories take place in a basement coffee shop in Tokyo, which offers customers the chance to travel into their own pasts – according to some very specific, contrived rules. They can’t leave their seats, they can only meet people who have visited the café at some point, they can’t alter events and they must return to the present before their coffee gets cold or else they end up stuck there permanently, like the café’s resident ghost. Since they can’t change the present, the customers are all looking for healing or closure: one wants to see her estranged sister one more time, another to revisit an argument which ended with her boyfriend leaving her. Kawaguchi is shamelessly manipulative, but if you can live with the sentimentality and the simplistic, awkward prose style it can easily draw you in.


Mary Costello

Canongate, £8.99

Shortlisted for Irish Novel of the Year, Costello’s third book is a homage to James Joyce, focusing on 34-year-old Luke O’Brien, who has taken a four-year break from teaching to live alone and quietly at his family home in County Waterford. His days have slowed right down, mainly spent deep in thought. A Joyce obsessive, Luke relates practically everything in his life back to Ulysses and would like to “inhabit” Leopold Bloom “day and night”. He suspects he may be bipolar. Love comes knocking when he meets a local divorced woman, Ruth Mulvey, but his Aunt Ellen, aware of Ruth’s family background, warns him off. This comes as a shattering blow, after which the entire narrative style changes to a Ulysses-inspired question and answer format, which soon wears out its welcome. The River Capture’s ambition is impressive, but its detached metaphysical concerns make it a book easier to admire than to love.