J M Coetzee, Dani Atkins and Muhsin Al-Ramli: This week’s best new fiction

From J M Coetzee’s The Death Of Jesus to A Million Dreams by Dani Atkins and a scabrous sequel from Muhsin Al-Ramli, this week’s best new fiction

The Death Of Jesus

J M Coetzee                                                                                Harvill Secker £18.99

Any new novel from Coetzee commands respect, and the final part of the trilogy that began with The Childhood Of Jesus is no exception. David is an orphan who has been brought to live in a new country by a migrant worker. 

His short, tragic life encompasses everything from ballet to football to Don Quixote, and his death divides opinion, with not everyone convinced he was blessed with special powers. 

Like all good allegories, the novel can be read in different ways. It is hardly a page-turner, but it constantly challenges what we believe and why.

Max Davidson


A Million Dreams

Dani Atkins                                                                                   Head Of Zeus £18.99

Eight years ago, two women had a difficult decision to make. Now Beth runs a successful florist, while Izzy is finding that her overwhelming love for her son has weakened her marriage. 

Neither woman knows the other, but their lives are about to collide in an unexpected and shocking way. 

At times Beth and Izzy are so alike it’s hard to tell one from the other. Despite this – and a title that sounds like a forgettable Christmas No 1 – Atkins writes with immediacy and compassion, humanising a storyline whose many plot twists might otherwise seem sensationalist.

Amber Pearson


Daughter Of The Tigris

Muhsin Al-Ramli                                                               MacLehose Press £14.99

There has been plenty of fiction about the US experience of war in Iraq, but here’s a novel that portrays the struggles of the people who live there. 

Al-Ramli, whose brother was executed by Saddam Hussein, chronicles the recent history of his country in this noisy sequel to his celebrated 2017 saga The President’s Gardens

Centred on Qisma, a politically ambitious woman out to avenge the death of her father, it’s a scabrous comedy set against the agonising horror triggered by Iraq’s chaotic post-Saddam carve-up. Al-Ramli offers laughter, sorrow, and a breathtakingly grim climax.

Anthony Cummins 

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