From Virginia Feito’s suspenseful debut to History by Miles Jupp, an intimate novel by Leïla Slimani and Megan Abbott’s latest, this week’s best new fiction
Virginia Feito Fourth Estate £14.99
Mrs March’s husband, George, has written a novel that all of New York is talking about. Unfortunately, its heroine – a prostitute, no less – seems to be based on her. That’s not the only thing bothering the fastidious Mrs M: she also suspects George’s involvement in the murder of a young woman.
What this debut novel lacks in originality, it makes up for with ever-ratcheting suspense and horror-tinged twists as its Upper East Side heroine lurches towards madness.
Miles Jupp Headline £16.99
It is not hard to identify with poor Clive, the bumbling hero of this well-observed first novel. He teaches history at a minor public school and has a wife and two kids. A decent, sensitive man, he’s doomed to mediocrity, until an upsetting incident with a pupil makes him question his priorities.
Jupp writes well, and though the story never really gets out of second gear, he has fun skewering the absurdities of public-school life.
The Country Of Others
Leïla Slimani Faber £14.99
When Mathilde marries a Moroccan man she met during the Second World War, she moves from France to his unpromising farm while his homeland contemplates independence.
Slimani’s economic prose creates a patchwork portrait of their lives in intimate detail, as extended family and other dependants crowd in on them, and violence inside the home reflects civic tensions outside it.
This first volume of a trilogy not only shows us a vanished world, but also explores why it vanished.
Megan Abbott Virago £14.99
Abbott’s fiction focuses on femininity’s darkest corners and the world of ballet – obsessive and masochistic – is perfect territory for her. The Turnout, set in an unnamed American city, centres around two sisters running a ballet school and the two men in their lives; one who’s been there for ever and one who threatens everything they have.
Slow-burning and feverish, with all the intensity of a classic American film noir.