Hilary Leichter

(Faber, £12.99)

Previous generations might have been able to secure a job for life, but nowadays employment is becoming defined by transience. Leichter’s debut is a workplace novel for a generation trapped in the gig economy, and pushes the ephemerality of work to ludicrous extremes. Her nameless narrator is a temp working 23 jobs and yearning for the stability a permanent position would bring. She does everything from posing as a mannequin to becoming a pirate to filling in for a ghost to replacing a board chairman – whose ashes she later carries around in accordance with his wishes. Saddest of all, she fills in for a young boy’s mother, to the extent of mimicking her idiosyncrasies, even that ending up with her eventual dismissal. Appropriately, her personal life mirrors her professional one: she has 18 boyfriends fulfilling her various needs. A critique of capitalism wrapped in an absurdist comedy, Temporary is cheekily pertinent and disturbingly relatable.


Michael Gillard

(Bloomsbury, £10.99)

The 2012 London Olympics was controversial for a number of reasons, but investigative journalist Michael Gillard concentrates on the turf war that broke out between organised crime families when money started pouring into East London boroughs to bring them up to the required standard for the games. Chief among those who planned to cash in was the untouchable gangster known as the Long Fella – who, as Gillard recounts here, was very close to being brought down by a dogged squad of local detectives until Scotland Yard decided that protecting the reputation of the Olympic Games mattered more than exposing a powerful crime lord. Gillard’s forensically meticulous book is a labyrinthine account of East End villains and the councillors, bankers, CEOs and police who became ensnared in their web of corruption, letting us know that the London underworld has changed less since the days of the Kray twins than the Met would like us to think.


Katie Hale

(Canongate, £8.99)

Through a post-apocalyptic landscape walks a woman called Monster. She has always shunned human contact, and only survived the disease that wiped out the population because she was working at a remote installation in the Arctic Circle. Returning to an empty Britain, she’s happy to be alone. Then she meets Monster number two, a feral young girl unable to talk, and for the first time involves herself in another person’s life, teaching the girl how to survive and grow food, and even renaming herself Mother. In the second half of the book, the spotlight falls on the younger Monster as she grows and begins to assert her individuality. In a novel in which the entire planet has been devastated, Hale, a poet, narrows her focus right down to the inner lives of her two protagonists and their relationship with each other, dissecting each layer as it is uncovered with delicacy and lyricism.