Corner Shop

The title refers to the shop run by Zaki Khalil in London -- a place that embodies both the dreams and disappointments of a man who left his native country in his youth, but now, staring old age squarely in the face, finds himself doing the same things and being the same person he tried to run away from. It is this sense of a missed life that draws Zaki to an illicit affair -- with his bored, midlife crisis-battling daughter-in-law Delphine. Set in the heart of multiracial London, a territory made immensely recognizable by such writers as Salman Rushdie, Hanif Kureishi and Zadie Smith, Corner Shop tackles familiar themes of exile and the grip of the past in a new and invigorating fashion. Each of the characters in the Khalil household -- Lucky, the football-loving grandson; Jinan, the hardworking lawyer and Zaki's son who does not know that his trophy French wife hides a terrible secret; and Zaki and Delphine themselves -- is etched with remarkable wit and humanity. This is a more nuanced work than Bitter Sweets, Farooki's debut, which also tackles continent-hopping souls. While the happy ending of Bitter Sweets comes across as hastily contrived, Farooki desists from falling for too much neatness in Corner Shop. Instead, she takes us into the future towards the end, and presents a stark portrait of lives lived under the full force of a merciless destiny. Corner Shop is an important signpost heralding a rapidly advancing talent

April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysely Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.

The Promise of Hope

Killed last year in the infamous terror attack at Nairobi's Westgate mall, Kofi Awoonor was a national treasure in his native Ghana.  His career began in 1964 with Rediscovery, and this magnum opus serves as a tribute to his entire long journey charting his beloved nation's course through his accomplished poetry.

Winter Mythologies and Abbots

A pair of linked stories finds that, as translator Ann Jefferson relates, "[Pierre] Michon's great theme is the precarious balance between belief and imposture, and the way the greatest aspirations can be complicated by physical desire or the equally urgent desire for what he calls glory."