Mary Gaitskill (Daunt, £8.99)

Smitten by a stray one-eyed cat on a trip to Italy in 2007, Mary Gaitskill named him Gattino and took him back to the US. Just a few months later, Gattino disappeared from her garden and was never seen again. Taken aback by how deeply the cat’s loss has affected her, Gaitskill feels her trauma is connected with the two siblings, Caesar and Natalia, she and her husband fostered for a while, and the complex relationship she had with them. Originally a Granta essay, Lost Cat now appears between two covers in its own right, and it’s Gaitskill at her most personal, a howl of pain for her missing pet that expands to encompass her relationship with her father and the two children she loved but who were never really hers. A short but insightful examination of the limits of her love, and her difficulties with relationships, it’s told with self-effacing frankness and clarity.


Malachy Tallack (Polygon, £12.99)

Following up his debut, 60 Degrees North, which explored the northern climes, the Shetland-born Tallack hopes to reawaken a sense of wonder in a world which has been thoroughly mapped and explored by chronicling 24 non-existent islands which appeared on maps and hung around for a while (sometimes centuries) before disappearing. Some were purely mythical, others were the product of cartographical errors, expediency or deliberate hoaxes, while still others were swallowed up by the waves. The Un-Discovered Islands abounds with evocative names like Atlantis, Lemuria, Avalon, Elysium and Thule, Tallack drawing on folk myths from cultures as varied as New Zealand, China and Ireland, Classical manuscripts, the lore of Portuguese seamen and comparatively recent polar explorers. A compact paperback, exquisitely designed and illustrated with old maps, it occupies “the cartography of the mind”, a realm where exploration and imagination blend inextricably into one another, with numerous mythical vistas for readers to get lost in.


Rachel Johnson (Simon & Schuster, £8.99)

It’s hard to resist the prospect of reading Rachel Johnson on her brother, the Prime Minister, and within a few pages she has recounted the “formative” moment when her ambition to become a wife and mother was trumped by young Boris’s intention to be “World King”. The bulk of this entertaining memoir, though, concerns the author’s “political midlife crisis”. Appalled by the Brexit referendum result, while her brother coasted towards No 10 on a wave of Brexitmania, she stood as a European Parliament candidate for the pro-Remain Change UK, competing against Ann Widdecombe, who she knew, and hated, from the Big Brother house. Her account is amusing and self-deprecating while giving an honest glimpse into the workings of the political machine. She shares with Boris a tendency for gaffes, wonky judgement and dismissing serious matters as a joke, but such qualities are much easier to take in an indiscreet, gossipy memoir.