Anne Enright, Petina Gappah and Rosanna Amaka: This week’s best new fiction

From Anne Enright’s potent Actress to the skilful latest by Petina Gappah and an impressive debut from Rosanna Amaka, this week’s best new fiction


Anne Enright                                                                            Jonathan Cape £16.99

There are plenty of buried secrets to be unearthed in the 2007 Booker winner’s latest novel, which delves deep into the mother-daughter relationship. 

Its heroine is Katherine O’Dell, a red-haired beauty who starts treading the boards aged ten and goes on to attain both celebrity and notoriety. 

Her life story encompasses the razzle-dazzle of post-war America and the drabness of Seventies Dublin, and is told by her only child, Norah. A potent brew of fame, sexual power, hypocrisy and bad men.

Hephzibah Anderson


Out Of Darkness, Shining Light

Petina Gappah                                                                                             Faber £16.99

The Victorian explorer David Livingstone is still a household name. Less well known, but resurrected here with rare skill, are the faithful servants who, after his death, ensured that his bones were returned to England. 

Their epic journey from the African interior to Zanzibar is narrated by Halima, a wonderfully earthy cook, and Jacob, a freed slave. 

Zimbabwean-born Gappah proves not just a fine storyteller, but an astute observer of a fascinating period. The result is one of the finest novels to come out of Africa in recent years.

Max Davidson


The Book Of Echoes

Rosanna Amaka                                                                             Doubleday £12.99

Narrated by the spirit of an African slave transported from Nigeria to Jamaica 200 years ago, this impressive debut follows two young black lives in the closing decades of the 20th century. 

Ngosi is an orange-seller from a village in Nigeria who yearns for education and a better life, while Michael, a Londoner of Jamaican descent, grows up in the racially charged furnace that is Eighties Brixton. 

Inevitably these two narrative strands converge and if the dénouement feels contrived, this is nonetheless a beautifully written testament to oppression that reverberates across the centuries.

Simon Humphreys