This week's best new fiction 

From Amor Towles’s big-hearted adventure to Burntcoat by Sarah Hall, a shimmering triumph by Elizabeth Strout and John Banville’s latest, this week’s best new fiction

The Lincoln Highway

Amor Towles                                                                                          Hutchinson £20

Set in 1954, this rollicking road trip begins as 18-year-old protagonist Emmett is sent home from the penal facility where he’s been held after accidentally causing the death of a bully in his Nebraska home town. 

Recently orphaned, he sets out on a cross-country odyssey where little goes to plan. Fans of Towles will enjoy spotting links to previous novels in a big-hearted adventure told with brio.

Anthony Cummins

 

Burntcoat

Sarah Hall                                                                                                       Faber £12.99

Edith Harkness is a sculptor scarred by caring for her brain-damaged mother. She’s just fallen for Halit, a Turkish chef, when a virus deadlier than Covid-19 strikes. Deciding to spend lockdown together, they throw themselves into a sexual idyll – but then Halit falls sick. 

It’s an imaginative take on the pandemic, though Hall’s clinical prose makes it less affecting than it might be, and some will question if our own crisis needs any exaggeration.

Anthony Gardner

 

Oh William!

Elizabeth Strout                                                                                         Viking £14.99

This latest instalment in the life of Strout’s inimitable heroine, Lucy Barton, takes its title from an exclamation that often passes through her mind when dealing with her ex-husband. 

It’s accompanied by fondness, frustration and occasionally fury as William faces two unpleasant shocks and Lucy tags along for the ride. A shimmering triumph of a novel, it muses delicately on love, loss and the mystery of others.

Hephzibah Anderson

 

April In Spain

John Banville                                                                                                Faber £14.99

Banville has set aside his Benjamin Black pseudonym for this latest subtle and atmospheric thriller to feature Dublin pathologist Quirke. On holiday in San Sebastián, Quirke sees a young woman he’d believed dead. 

This chance encounter opens a can of worms with its roots in Irish politics, and sets in motion a deadly game. A novel as languorous as a hot Spanish afternoon before the sudden plunge into the darkness of night.

John Williams 

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