1 | Aquarium by David Vann (see above)
American writer David Vann applies his taut, charged prose to the story of a 12-year-old girl, Caitlin, who spends her afternoons alone at an aquarium while her mother works, and there meets a strange old man. But what’s his deal? Is he just a fellow piscophile? Or something that sounds a bit similar but is a whole lot worse? Or does he know more about Caitlin than she could even begin to realise? Vann, author of Legend of a Suicide, tells a stirring tale that isn’t as simple as it first appears.
Out now (William Heinemann)
2 | Satin Island by Tom McCarthy
The new novel by Tom McCarthy, author of Remainder (the film version of which is released later this year), doesn’t try to be simple: instead he presents the travels, visions and musings of an anthropologist called “U” who is compiling a document that sums up the ethnographic workings of the current age, while he is distracted by the leitmotif (or should that be schwermotif?) of a recent parachuting accident. If you’re after a page-turning plot look elsewhere, but for page-turning ideas, it’s a must.
Out now (Jonathan Cape)
3 | Landmarks by Robert Macfarlane
Robert Macfarlane’s new book, about the meanings of words used for and derived from the British landscape, will teach you interesting things. Did you know molehills are called “wonty-tumps” in Herefordshire, or that froth on ditch-streams is known in Northamptonshire as “beggar’s-balm”? Such trivia is a passing pleasure of Macfarlane’s writing, in which his own experience is gently nurtured by the writers and naturalists whose work underlies it, just like a “weepy swang” (look it up).
Out now (Hamish Hamilton)