When we’re juggling meetings, deadlines and social plans, cracking open the latest 600-page prize-winner can feel like just another task on our to-do lists. At times like these, stick to slim, nimble reads – like Grand Union, Zadie Smith’s first collection of short stories. Published last week, it tackles subjects including cancel culture, desire and race with Smith’s trademark insight and lightness of touch.
If memoirs are more your thing, dip into the Copenhagen Trilogy by Tove Ditlevsen, the cult Danish poet and author who died in 1971. Across three featherweight volumes (Childhood, Youth and Dependency), Ditlevsen’s taut, simple prose shines a light on what life and love were like for working-class women in 20th century Copenhagen. Elena Ferrante fans, take note.
Finally, Lillian Li’s Number One Chinese Restaurant – which follows Chinese-American teenagers Annie and Pat as they try to extricate themselves from the grip of their family restaurant – is now out in paperback. Longlisted for the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction, it’s warm, moving and extremely funny. Happy reading.