Early Morning Riser, by Katherine Heiny and Detransition, Baby, by Torey Peters
This month I’ve been (very appropriately!) reading two books centered around mothers and mothering.
I’ve loved both of Katherine Heiny’s previous laugh-out-loud books, so I was very excited to see she had a new novel out. Early Morning Riser is about Jane’s life after she moves to the small town of Boyne, Indiana to teach a year two class. She soon meets Duncan, the town handyman and serial dater, and falls quickly in love with him. His ex-wife, Aggie, and employee Jim are a constant presence in their life together, but when a terrible accident occurs, their lives become entangled irrevocably. Light, funny and sweet, this will appeal to fans of Marian Keyes or Rachael Johns.
Detransition, Baby has been on my radar ever since it got nominated for the Women’s Prize, the first book by a trans woman to gain such recognition. The novel follows Reese, a transgender woman, as she is approached by her ex-partner Amy with a unique proposition. Since the breakdown of their relationship, Amy has detransitioned, now goes by Ames and has inadvertently gotten his new girlfriend (who also happens to be his boss) pregnant. The result is messy, snarky and incredibly fun. I loved these characters and the generosity, warmth and patience with which Peters interrogates queer politics makes for some truly thought provoking reading. It is a breath of fresh air to read trans literature that doesn’t simply defend the existence of transness, but celebrates and analyses the intricacies of this community.
On the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration, a young woman snoops through her boyfriend’s phone and makes a startling discovery: he’s an anonymous Internet conspiracy theorist. Already fluent in Internet fakery, irony, and outrage, she’s not exactly shocked by the revelation. But this is only the first in a series of bizarre twists that expose a world whose truths are shaped by online lies.
She flees to Berlin, and embarks on her own cycles of manipulation in the deceptive spaces of her daily life, from dating apps to expat social events, open-plan offices to bureaucratic waiting rooms. Narrated in a voice as seductive as it is subtly subversive, Fake Accounts is a wry, provocative and very funny debut novel about identity and authenticity in the age of the internet.
This is the story of Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, who, from her place in the store, watches carefully the behaviour of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass in the street outside. She remains hopeful a customer will soon choose her, but when the possibility emerges that her circumstances may change for ever, Klara is warned not to invest too much in the promises of humans.
A thrilling feat of world-building, a novel of exquisite tenderness and impeccable restraint, Klara and the Sun is a magnificent achievement, and an international literary event.