Ralph McAllister – Joy,Tears & Laughter From Three Great Novels

What a month it has been! says Ralph McAllister.

‘Three novels of outstanding quality bringing joy ,tears and laughter in equal measures.

THE SURVIVORS by Alex Schulman has three brothers returning to their childhood holiday lakeside home, twenty years on.

Scattering the mother’s ashes seems to be the main reason for this disfunctional family’s reunion. But we are soon plunged into painful and violent memories ,told mostly through the eyes of middle son Benjamin.

Shocking (pun intended) electrical experiences, lost in the Swedish wilderness, coping with alcoholic uncaring parents, all amidst squalor and death might dissuade you from attempting this moving and uplifting novel.


Schulman is an established novelist in his own country, but this is his first novel published in English.

It will be the first of many.

One of the finest features is the way the story glides and shifts in plot and revelation.

You keep being offered clues and then having to reverse your conclusions.

 Once again Paper Plus let me anticipate with this review what will no doubt become a best seller.


The Sweetness of Water

And with a stroke of luck and timing I reviewed THE SWEETNESS OF WATER by Nathan Harris on Nine to Noon the day after finishing this debut novel which should have been shortlisted for the Booker but wasn’t.

This is a searingly beautiful story of slaves in Redemption time small town  Georgia and how the local community refuses to adjust, with the exception of farmer George and wife Isabella who offer work to brothers and ex-slaves Prentiss and Landry.

Also happpening is a secret romance between two Confederate soldiers newly returned from the war.

The conflagration, when it is lit, brings death, torture and only flickers of humanity in a story which is as riveting as it is deeply moving.

The extraordinary accomplishment is that this is a debut novel from a young black American who slots immediately into the category of Cormac McCarthy, James Baldwin and,more recently Colson  Whitehead and Robert Jones Jnr, with a not unreasonable place near the great John Steinbeck and his ‘OF MICE AND MEN’.

And, says he crowing,the day after my wireless review, local bookshops in Wellington sold out.



The successor to ‘The Thursday Murder Club’

Finally the joyous successor to THE THURSDAY MURDER CLUB, Richard Osman’s huge bestseller earlier this year.

THE MAN WHO DIED TWICE follows the escapades of intrepid amateur sleuths Ibrahim,Joyce,Elizabeth and Ron as they stagger and laugh through their late seventies whilst investigating a stop at nothing murderer in their retirement home vicinity.

This is one of the funniest,cleverest and hugely entertaining books of the year.

I will not go on about the plot,ingenious that it it is.

I will just reassure you that you do not have to have read the first one first but you will read both in a flash,septuagenarians forever!



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