In this monthly feature, The Sunday Times picks out 10 books from around the world that have just hit the shelves.
Top Of The Stack
1. Memories Of The Memories Of The Black Rose Cat
By Veeraporn Nitiprapha, translated by Kong Rithdee
Fiction/River Books/Paperback/330 pages/$23.54/Buy here
4 out of 5
Veeraporn Nitiprapha's multigenerational saga of a Chinese immigrant family in Thailand unfolds like a rose in bloom - its intricate layers reveal themselves in their own time, overlapping with quiet intent.
Memories Of The Memories Of The Black Rose Cat was well-received in Thailand when it was first published. It went on to win the prestigious South-east Asian Writers Award in 2018, and is now available to English readers in an excellent translation by Kong Rithdee.
The story begins in the early decades of the 20th century, when Great-Grandpa Tong arrives in Siam from Guangdong, China, to help his uncle in the rice trade. He marries Great-Grandma Sangiem, a palace cook, and they have five children together.
The narrator tells of the family's trials and tribulations against the turbulent backdrop of the Siamese Revolution of 1932, World War II, various rebellions and coups, and the Vietnam War.
2. How To Prevent The Next Pandemic
"The world has never invested in the tools it needs or properly prepared for a pandemic. It's time we did," writes Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.
He lays out what the world should have learnt from Covid-19 and the steps that can be taken to prevent a similar disaster from happening. One of these involves setting up a pandemic prevention team - Gates calls it Germ, short for Global Epidemic Response and Mobilisation - with about 3,000 full-time staff.
3. Rebel: My Escape From Saudi Arabia To Freedom
By Rahaf Mohammed
Memoir/HarperCollins/Hardcover/41 pages/$35.26/Buy here
This is the memoir of Saudi Arabia-born Rahaf Mohammed, who in 2019, ran away from her family at the age of 18 when they were vacationing in Kuwait. She fled to Bangkok, barricading herself in an airport hotel room to stop the authorities from sending her home.
She accused her family of being abusive and said her life would be in danger if she were to return. Her pleas on social media received global attention and she was eventually granted asylum in Canada.
4. Building 46
By Massoud Hayoun
Fiction/Darf Publishers/Paperback/272 pages/$29/Buy here
Sam Saadoun, a closeted gay Jewish Arab university student, arrives in Beijing from Los Angeles before the 2008 Olympics. While enrolled in Wei Da university, he learns of a mysterious murder that took place in the ping pong room of Building 46, the campus block next to his.
This is the second title in the Ghorba Ghost Story Series by Massoud Hayoun, a journalist who gained plaudits for his 2019 non-fiction debut When We Were Arabs: A Jewish Family's Forgotten History.
By Leila Mottley
Fiction/Bloomsbury Publishing/Paperback/288 pages/$29.95/Buy here
This devastating debut tells the story of 17-year-old Kiara Johnson, an African-American high-school dropout who enters a life of sex work. Novelist Leila Mottley, 19, was partly inspired by a real life sex abuse scandal in the police department of Oakland, California, where she lives.
6. The Cherry Robbers
By Sarai Walker
Harper/Hardcover/432 pages/$47.88/Buy here
In 1950s Connecticut, Iris Chapel is the fifth of six sisters. They long to move out of their mansion, but are bound by a family curse that causes them to die one after another. Iris, however, manages to survive - fast forward to 2017 and she is an artist in New Mexico, living under the name of Sylvia Wren.
7. Ghost Lover: Stories
By Lisa Taddeo
Fiction/Bloomsbury Publishing/Paperback/240 pages/$29.95/Buy here
American writer Lisa Taddeo, known for her non-fiction debut Three Women (2019) and novel Animal (2021), returns with a collection of stories about modern women and their desires.
They range from Ghost Lover, about a woman who set up a message-forwarding dating service, to Forty-Two, which speaks to an obsession with age and ageing.
8. Authenticity: Reclaiming Reality In A Counterfeit Culture
By Alice Sherwood
Non-fiction/Mudlark/Paperback/416 pages/$32.10/Buy here
"The best way to understand what is authentic," says researcher Alice Sherwood, "is to look first at what is not." Across fields from art and fashion to science and commerce, she examines the forces that favour fakery and suggests what can be done to "reclaim" authenticity.
9. I Was The President's Mistress!!
This sassy, satirical novel is the "tell-all memoir" of Vita Nova, a Filipino movie star. It consists of transcripts of the interviews that writer Miguel Syjuco ostensibly conducted with Vita and the men in her life - such as a bishop and the president of the Philippines.
10. The Witch Doctor's Daughter
By Kathrina Mohd Daud
Epigram Books/Paperback/189 pages/$28.78/Buy here
Bruneian academic Kathrina Mohd Daud, whose novel The Fisherman King (2020) was shortlisted for the Epigram Books Fiction Prize, returns to the same setting of Brunei's Kampong Ayer (Water Village).
Safiyya has had enough of her parents - charlatans who dispense useless spiritual aid to troubled folk. Before long, she moves out of the Water Village into a jungle longhouse, picking up traditional medicine and making the acquaintance of a mysterious linguist.