Updated: Mar 7, 2019
When we first launched Ninja Book Box a lot of people told us they'd love to read more independently published books, but they just couldn't find any that sounded good or like the kind of thing they usually read. Well, we're only at the third month of the year and there have already been so many fantastic independently published books out! We've talked about some of them in our January and February posts and now here are some more.... As always, this is just a fraction of the books that are being released, and we urge you to check out our twitter list of UK based independent publishers for even more, or join our Book Club mailing list as our monthly book club & subscription service for awesome indie books is returning from hiatus in June.
The electrifying debut collection from a powerful new voice in UK poetry. Shortlisted for the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award 2018. Let Me Tell You This is a vital exploration of racism, gender-based violence, and the sustaining, restorative bonds between women, told with searing precision and intelligent lyricism. Nadine takes you on a journey exploring heritage, connection, and speaking out. These poems demonstrate the power of heart and voice, and will stay with readers long after the last page is turned.
Unspeakable: The Things we Cannot Say by Harriet Shawcross (Canongate Books)
As a teenager, Harriet Shawcross stopped speaking at school for almost a year, retreating into herself and communicating only when absolutely necessary. As an adult, she became fascinated by the limits of language and in Unspeakable she asks what makes us silent.
From the inexpressible trauma of trench warfare and the aftermath of natural disaster to the taboo of coming out, Shawcross explores how and why words fail us. From the mountains of Nepal to New York’s theatre district she travels the world meeting people who constantly wrestle with language. She studies the work of George Oppen, a poet who couldn’t write a line for twenty-five years, interviews Eve Ensler whose play The Vagina Monologues gave voice to the truths of female sexuality, and meets the founders of The Samaritans who have been listening silently to those in need since the 1950s.
The Book of Cairo edited by Ralph Cormack (Comma Press)
A corrupt police officer trawls the streets of Cairo on the most important assignment of his career: the answer to the truth of all existence…
A young journalist struggles over the obituary of a nightclub dancer…
A man slowly loses his mind in one of the city’s new desert developments..
There is a saying that, whoever you are, if you come to Cairo you will find a hundred people just like you. For over a thousand years, the city on the banks of the Nile has welcomed travellers from around the world. But in recent years Cairo has also been a stage for expressions of short-lived hope, political disappointments and a violent repression that can barely be written about.
These ten short stories showcase some of the most exciting, emerging voices in Egypt, guiding us through one of the world’s largest and most historic cities as it is today – from its slums to its villas, its bars and its balconies, through its infamous traffic. Appearing in English for the first time, these stories evoke the sadness and loss of the modern city, as well as its humour and beauty.
Memoirs of a Woman Doctor by Nawal El Saadawi (Saqi Books)
A young Egyptian woman clashes with her traditional family when she chooses a career in medicine. Rather than submit to an arranged marriage and motherhood, she cuts her hair short and works fiercely to realise her dreams. At medical school, she begins to understand the mysteries of the human body. After years of denying her own desires, the doctor begins a series of love affairs that allow her to explore her sexuality – on her own terms.
Trust Exercise by Susan Choi (Serpent's Tail)
In their first term at a highly competitive performing arts high school, two students, Sarah and David, fall deeply and obsessively in love. Under the care of Mr. Kingsley, their magnetic and manipulative drama instructor, they and their peers exist in a rarefied bubble, where the boundaries between students and teachers become first dangerously blurred, and then completely broken. The outside world of family and class, academic pressure and the future can't affect them-until it does-and they must deal with the ensuing rejection, rebellion, and heartbreak.
Two decades on we learn that what we were told about these teenagers' lives is not completely true, but not completely false, either. The real story is larger and darker than we imagined, and the consequences have lasted a lifetime.
Journeys by Stefan Zweig (Pushkin Press)
For the insatiably curious and ardent Europhile Stefan Zweig, travel was both a necessary cultural education and a personal balm for the depression he experienced when rooted in one place for too long. He spent much of his life weaving between the countries of Europe, visiting authors and friends, exploring the continent in the heyday of international rail travel.
Comprising a lifetime’s observations on Zweig’s travels in Europe, this collection can be dipped into or savoured at length, and paints a rich and sensitive picture of Europe before the Second World War.
The Buried: An Archaeology of the Egyptian Revolution by Peter Hessler (Profile Books)
In 2011, the world's eyes were on Egypt, as revolution swept across the country. But what lay below the surface of events was harder to see. Living in Cairo, over the following years award-winning writer Peter Hessler set out to uncover the everyday lives and archaeological secrets of a country in turmoil.
From the protests in Tahrir square, to Egypt's first democratic elections, and on to the massacres, the coup and its aftermath, The Buried follows the ongoing events of the Arab Spring while also exploring the social forces and historical context behind it. At its heart lies human stories: iconoclastic Pharaoh Akhenaten, rubbish collector Sayyid, Arabic teacher Rifaat, Chinese lingerie salesmen and resourceful archaeologists. Together, they raise the question: is revolution just repetition, or can things really change?
Through extraordinary first-hand reporting and deep research, Hessler brings to light the relationship between the ancient past and the contemporary condition, the political and the personal, to create an unforgettable work of literary and documentary brilliance.
City of Jasmine by Olga Grjasnowa (Oneworld)
Syria - a country at war.
Amid the horror and the brutality, three people, each with different reasons for being there, find themselves increasingly at odds with the authorities.
Hammoudi - a surgeon, returning to his homeland to renew his passport.
Amal - a young actress, eager to make her name.
Youssef- an aspiring director and already marked out as an enemy of the regime.
As each of them take up a role in the resistance, they encounter the sharp edge of the authorities' wrath. Soon they have no choice but to flee their homeland, facing untold dangers in a desperate bid to survive. City of Jasmine is an intimate and striking novel that offers real insight into the brutality of war and the humanity of many of those caught up in its horrors. An instant bestseller in Germany, it marks out Olga Grjasnowa as one of the most talented and admired young authors working there today.
A Perfect Explanation by Eleanor Anstruther (Salt Publishing)
Exploring themes of ownership and abandonment, Eleanor Anstruther’s debut is a fictionalised account of the true story of Enid Campbell (1892–1964), granddaughter of the 8th Duke of Argyll.
Interweaving one significant day in 1964 with a decade during the interwar period, A Perfect Explanation gets to the heart of what it is to be bound by gender, heritage and tradition, to fight, to lose, to fight again. In a world of privilege, truth remains the same; there are no heroes and villains, only people misunderstood. Here, in the pages of this extraordinary book where the unspoken is conveyed with vivid simplicity, lies a story that will leave you reeling.
Animalia by Jean-Baptiste Del Amo (Fitzcarraldo Editions)
Animalia tells the confronting and compelling story of a peasant family in south-west France as they develop their plot of land into an intensive pig farm. In an environment dominated by animals, five generations endure the cataclysm of two world wars, economic disasters, and the emergence of a brutal industrialism. Only the enchanted realm of childhood—that of Éléonore, the matriarch, and Jérome, her grandson—and the innate freedom of the animals offer any respite from the barbarity of humanity. Animalia is a powerful novel about man’s desire to conquer nature and the transmission of violence from one generation to the next.
The Lives Before Us by Juliet Conlin (Black & White Publishing)
It's April 1939 and, with their lives in Berlin and Vienna under threat, Esther and Kitty – two very different women – are forced to make the same brutal choice. Flee Europe, or face the ghetto, incarceration, death.
Shanghai, they've heard, Shanghai is a haven – and so they secure passage to the other side of the world. What they find is a city of extremes – wealth, poverty, decadence and disease – and of deep political instability. Kitty has been lured there with promises of luxury, love, marriage – but when her Russian fiancé reveals his hand she's left to scratch a vulnerable living in Shanghai's nightclubs and dark corners. Meanwhile, Esther and her little girl take shelter in a house of widows until the protection of Aaron, Esther's hot-headed former lover, offers new hope of survival.
Then the Japanese military enters the fray and violence mounts. As Kitty's dreams of escape are dashed, and Esther's relationship becomes tainted, the two women are thrown together in the city's most desperate times. Together they must fight for a future for the lives that will follow theirs
New Daughters of Africa edited by Margaret Busby
Twenty-five years ago, Margaret Busby’s groundbreaking anthology Daughters of Africa illuminated the ‘silent, forgotten, underrated
voices of black women’ (The Washington Post). Published to international acclaim, it was hailed as ‘an extraordinary body of achievement… a vital document of lost history’ (The Sunday Times).
New Daughters of Africa continues that mission for a new generation, bringing together a selection of overlooked artists of the past with fresh and vibrant voices that have emerged from across the globe in the past two decades, from Antigua to Zimbabwe and Angola to the USA. Key figures join popular contemporaries in paying tribute to the heritage that unites them. Each of the pieces in this remarkable collection demonstrates an uplifting sense of sisterhood, honours the strong links that endure from generation to generation, and addresses the common obstacles women writers of colour face as they negotiate issues of race, gender and class, and confront vital matters of independence, freedom and oppression.
Custom, tradition, friendships, sisterhood, romance, sexuality, intersectional feminism, the politics of gender, race, and identity—all and more are explored in this glorious collection of work from over 200 writers. New Daughters of Africa spans a wealth of genres—autobiography, memoir, oral history, letters, diaries, short stories, novels, poetry, drama, humour, politics, journalism, essays and speeches—to demonstrate the diversity and remarkable literary achievements of black women who remain under-represented, and whose works continue to be under-rated, in world culture today.
Featuring women across the diaspora, New Daughters of Africa illuminates the richness and cultural history of this original continent and its enduring influence, while reflecting our own lives and issues today. Bold and insightful, brilliant in its intimacy and universality, this essential volume honours the talents of African daughters and the inspiring legacy that connects them—and all of us.
The Narrow Land by Christine Dwyer Hinckley (Atlantic Books)
1950: late summer season on Cape Cod. Michael, a ten-year-old boy, is spending the summer with Richie and his glamorous but troubled mother. Left to their own devices, the boys meet a couple living nearby – the artists Jo and Edward Hopper – and an unlikely friendship is forged.
She, volatile, passionate and often irrational, suffers bouts of obsessive sexual jealousy. He, withdrawn and unwell, depressed by his inability to work, becomes besotted by Richie’s frail and beautiful Aunt Katherine who has not long to live – an infatuation he shares with young Michael.
A novel of loneliness and regret, the legacy of World War II and the ever-changing concept of the American Dream.
Have you got any of these on your TBR? Let us know in the comments.