Award-winning British-Nigerian author Helen Oyeyemi has made the BBC best books of 2021 so far list with Peaces.
Also on the list is Akwaeke Emezi, the author of three novels, and their latest work, a memoir, is structured as a collection of letters addressed to friends and family – both biological and chosen – and fellow writers.
Peaces, Oyeyemi’s latest novel, is set on a whimsically ramshackle train, the Lucky Day, and centres around five enigmatic individuals and two pet mongooses. As the complex trajectory of the characters’ interaction gradually moves towards a denouement, secrets are revealed, and a puzzle falls into place.
The New York Times said: “Oyeyemi is a master of leaps of thought and inference, of shifty velocity.” While The New Republic says: “Like all of Oyeyemi’s novels, Peaces goes to places in fiction that feel almost impossible.”
Others on the list are: Zakiya Dalila Harris for The Other Black Girl, about two young black women working in the all-white office of an upmarket US publishing house; Damon Galgut’s The Promise, which centres on the decline of The Swarts – a white South-African family living on a farm outside Pretoria in the 1980s.
Then there’s Lisa McInerney’s The Rules of Revelation is the last instalment in a trilogy about the criminal underworld of modern-day Cork, Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead that weaves together the stories of two women living decades and continents apart, and Second Place by Rachel Cusk in which the narrator invites a famous artist to use her guest house in the grounds of her family home in the coastal countryside. The list continues with
Real Estate by Deborah Levy, How the Word is Passed by Clint Smith, Rememberings by Sinéad O’Connor, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain by George Saunders, Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro, Luster by Raven Leilani, Aftershocks by Nadia Owusu, Let Me Tell You What I Mean by Joan Didion, and Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters.Others are The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr, No One is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood, Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam, Milk Fed by Melissa Broder, Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson, Land of Big Numbers by Te-Ping Chen, and Fake Accounts by Lauren Oyler.