Professor Wu's Rulebook

The best new indie books of 2016

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In a year that began with a spate of celebrity deaths including David Bowie and Alan Rickman, and ended with the election of Donald Trump to the US Presidency after taking us via both Brexit and the news that the planet has now passed through the ‘carbon threshold’, there have been precious few things for liberally minded, creative and generally right-thinking people to hold onto. However, when it comes to independent works of writing by new and contemporary writers, 2016 has at least given us cause for celebration.

As such, we’ve hand-picked our favourite indie books of the year.

The Inevitable Gift Shop

We’re big fans of indie publishers CB Editions, and so it’s not surprising that one of their many fabulous titles makes its way onto our 2016 list. The Inevitable Gift Shop, by Will Eaves, is one of those increasingly rare literary finds: a book that is thoroughly unique, yet also pleasingly familiar as it breaks new ground. Described as ‘a memoir by other means’, it’s not at all plot driven. Rather, this work of collage brings together bits and pieces of memoir, fictional prose, poetry, essay and non-fiction. Interactive, funny, insightful and thought provoking in equal turns, it’s a perfect book to revisit time and time again. Read our review of the book here.

What A Way To Go

Atlantic Books published What A Way To Go, the latest work of novelist Julia Forster. Set against a backdrop of high hairdos and higher interest rates, pop music and puberty, divorce and death, this coming-of-age tale is effervescently 80s, following the tale of 12-year old Harper Richardson as she navigates the various trials and tribulations of young adulthood. Read our review of the book here.

The Waves Burn Bright

There should be a critical term for a book that you can’t stop reading; but also makes you stop and think. Published by Freight Books, The Waves Burn Bright is the latest novel from Scottish author Iain Maloney, and focuses on the 1988 Piper Alpha oil disaster, and the impact it has on the novels central protagonists, Carrie and Marcus, as well as the wider Aberdeen community. It is a book rooted very much in both the past (and the night of the disaster itself), as well as the present; and in its universally recognisable motifs of trauma, loss, and love, carries important messages that will resonate with anyone. Read our review of the book here.

The Story of a Brief Marriage

Published by Granta and Portobello, The Story of a Brief Marriage by Anuk Arudpragasam is an uncompromising narrative of a single day during the war in Sri Lanka. Arudpragasam is an assured and confident writer – and it belies belief that this is the work of a debut novelist. The opening sequence of the novel, in which a six-year-old child with a shrapnel-shredded arm is brought to an open-air operating theatre, feels horribly timely, and the poetic nature of the prose and eerily beautiful writing style makes the detail described in the novel’s pages all the more painful and devastating.

Shadow State

Published by Oneworld, Shadow State by Alan White is a biting critique of the £80 billion the UK government spends on outsourcing some of the country’s most important public services, from prisons to hospital resources and even child protection. Remember the scandal of G4S’s bungled Olympic security contract? Frightened about the threat Richard Branson’s Virgin Care poses to our healthcare and National Health Service infrastructure? Then this really is a must-read book for you. There are plenty of reasons to despise modern capitalism, and this book pertinently showcases several. We’ll see you on the barricades, comrades.


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