Before I start this months' upcoming indie books post I've got a very exciting announcement. From our April newsletter onwards we're going to be producing an extensive spreadsheet of new indie books being released each month exclusively for newsletter subscribers! We'll still be writing these posts of course, but due to length we usually try to pick only a book or two from each publisher, and we unfortunately have to miss out lots of great looking books, but no longer!
April's newsletter will contain the download for the May new indie releases spreadsheet, and if you're not already signed up you can do that here.
Now, on with the books! If you missed our previous Upcoming Indie Books posts you can find them all here.
Flotsam by Meike Ziervogel (Salt Publishing)
Trine and her mother live in a cottage on the German coast. The mudflats that surround them disappear and reappear with the North Sea tides. The family leads a lonely existence, but each person has adapted in their own way. Anna roams the beaches collecting flotsam and jetsam to make art, while Trine loves playing on a wartime shipwreck. That is, until she loses her brother.
The Governess by Anne Serre (Les Fugitives)
In a large country house, shut off from the world within a gated garden, three young women responsible for the education of a group of little boys are hanging paper lanterns for a party. Their desires, however, lie elsewhere... Meet The Governesses: wild or drifting about in a sated, melancholy calm; spied upon by Monsieur Austeur, fascinated by the ever more mysterious unfolding of events, like the charms and spells of a midsummer night's dream…
Days in the Caucasus by Banine (Pushkin Press)
Banine’s family were peasants who became millionaires overnight when oil gushed from their lands – and the course of her own life would be just as dramatic.
This is her unforgettable memoir of an ‘odd, rich, exotic’ childhood, growing up in Azerbaijan in the turbulent early twentieth century, caught between east and west, tradition and modernity. She remembers her luxurious home, with endless feasts of sweets and fruit; her beloved, flaxen-haired German governess; her imperious, swearing, strict Muslim grandmother; her bickering, poker-playing, chain-smoking relatives. She recalls how the Bolsheviks came, and they lost everything. How, amid revolution and bloodshed, she fell passionately in love, only to be forced into marriage with a man she loathed – until the chance of escape arrived.
By turns gossipy and romantic, wry and moving, Days in the Caucasus is a coming of age story and a portrait of a vanished world. It shows what it means to leave the past behind, yet how it haunts us.
Vacuum in the Dark by Jen Beagin (Oneworld)
Mona is twenty-six, working as a cleaner, and looking for a fresh start in Taos, New Mexico. She moved there mostly to escape from a bad break-up with a junkie named Mr. Disgusting (don't ask). But her fresh start hasn't gone as smoothly as she expected, not least because she's found herself another bad boyfriend. This one she calls Dark, and it's complicated: he happens to be married to one of Mona's clients.
But Mona soon realises that neither her relationships nor her past traumas can be easily left behind. In an attempt to get over her heartbreak she winds up on an eccentric, moving, hilarious journey that takes her back to her own beginnings.
Working with Nature: Saving and Using the Worlds Wild Places by Jeremy Purseglove (Profile Books)
From cocoa farming in Ghana to the orchards of Kent and the desert badlands of Pakistan, taking a practical approach to sustaining the landscape can mean the difference between prosperity and ruin. Working with Nature is the story of a lifetime of work, often in extreme environments, to harvest nature and protect it - in effect, gardening on a global scale. It is also a memoir of encounters with larger-than-life characters such as William Bunting, the gun-toting saviour of Yorkshire's peatlands and the aristocratic gardener Vita Sackville-West, examining their idiosyncratic approaches to conservation.
Jeremy Purseglove explains clearly and convincingly why it's not a good idea to extract as many resources as possible, whether it's the demand for palm oil currently denuding the forests of Borneo, cottonfield irrigation draining the Aral Sea, or monocrops spreading across Britain. The pioneer of engineering projects to preserve nature and landscape, first in Britain and then around the world, he offers fresh insights and solutions at each step
Love in the Kingdom of Oil by Nawal El Saadawi (Saqi)
A woman disappears without trace. Nobody, including the police commissioner investigating the case, can understand how a woman could simply walk away, leaving husband and home behind. After all, in the Kingdom of Oil where His Majesty reigns supreme, no woman has ever dared disobey the command of men.
When the woman finally reappears, there is a blurring between the men in her life, as she leaves one to join another, then returns to her first husband who has since taken a new wife. She is trapped in a man-made web, unable to escape from a male figure who continually fills urns that she must carry.
Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin (Atlantic Books)
Ayesha Shamsi has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been overtaken by a demanding teaching job. Her boisterous Muslim family, and numerous (interfering) aunties, are professional naggers. And her flighty young cousin, about to reject her one hundredth marriage proposal, is a constant reminder that Ayesha is still single.
Ayesha might be a little lonely, but the one thing she doesn’t want is an arranged marriage. And then she meets Khalid… How could a man so conservative and judgmental (and, yes, smart and annoyingly handsome) have wormed his way into her thoughts so quickly?
As for Khalid, he’s happy the way he is; his mother will find him a suitable bride. But why can’t he get the captivating, outspoken Ayesha out of his mind? They’re far too different to be a good match, surely…
Galloglass by Scarlett Thomas (Canongate)