Lionel Shriver’s The Mandibles: A Family, 2029–2047 (Borough, £16.99) is set in a bankrupt America where the middle classes are foraging to survive. All aspects of the dystopia are thoroughly and chillingly imagined — but without ever losing the psychological plausibility of a gripping family saga.
My other favourite novel was Jonathan Unleashed (Bloomsbury, £14.99), Meg Rosoff’s first work for adults. For some writers, twentysomething Jonathan’s inability to ‘cross the huge gulf between childhood and adulthood’ might be evidence of male inadequacy. Rosoff, though, shows how right he is to be scared about growing up, in an exhilarating read that makes abiding pessimism very funny indeed.
Finally, for all music fans, there’s David Hepworth’s 1971 (Bantam, £20), which argues — and very possibly proves — that 1971 was the best ever year for rock albums. Mixing great anecdotes with thoughtful criticism, this is a richly entertaining reminder of when LPs ruled the world.
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