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Offill's Weather goes down a storm with the critics

The Week in review

Jenny Offill's Weather (Granta) had its moment in the sun, with reviewers hailing the novel as "expertly crafted", "a rare triumph" and the prose as "faintly miraculous". Many critics commented on Offill's razor-sharp skewering of modern life, with Lucy Scholes in the Daily Telegraph stating, "It’s an uncannily realistic portrait of what it’s like to be alive right now [...] This is a book about coming to terms with your helplessness. It’s about desperately wanting to do something, not knowing quite what, but trying anyway." Sarah Ditum in the Literary Review wrote, "The resonance between the world she describes and the one I live in is so emphatic that reading her can feel like having my own interior narrative externalised—a disarming sensation that is a mark of her craft." The Bookseller's fiction previewer Alice O'Keeffe, who named it her book of the month, described it as "an absolute joy", while Claire Lowdon of the Sunday Times believed Offill to be so attuned to the current climate that "she makes most other writers look like they’re still using catgut to predict the rain".

Chris Atkins' A Bit of a Stretch (Atlantic) had critics scaling the walls, with the Guardian's Blake Morrison praising the title's "knockabout humour" and Atkins' suggestions for prison reform as "humane, straightforward and [...] good sense". In the Times, Libby Purves described it as "crusading and humorous", and the Daily Mail's Olivia Lichtenstein wrote, "The book teems with larger-than-life characters but, beyond the pure grisly ‘entertainment’, lies a valuable report from the front line of the horrors of our prison system."

Kapka Kassabova's To the Lake (Granta), about the two lakes that span the Balkan region, was described by the Sunday Times' Dominic Sandbrook as "a delight, exquisitely written and brimming with compassion", and by Matthew Janney in the New Statesman as "excellent, balancing reverence and a sincere reckoning with the past". Valerie Hopkins in the Financial Times wrote, "To the Lake is an exquisitely written rallying cry to embrace the notion that the people of the Balkans—and indeed humanity as a whole—have more in common than what divides them, despite generations of strife suggesting otherwise."

Kiera O'Brien, charts editor, The Bookseller

Jenny Offill

4.29 out of 5

15 reviews

'What are you afraid of, he asks me and the answer of course is dentistry, humiliation, scarcity, then he says what are your most useful skills?

Chris Atkins

4.00 out of 5

7 reviews

A shocking and darkly funny account of the reality of Britain's prisons

Kapka Kassabova

4.27 out of 5

6 reviews

Lake Ohrid and Lake Prespa. Two vast lakes joined by underground rivers. Two lakes that seem to hold both the turbulent memories of the region's past, and the secret of its enduring allure. Two lakes that have played a central role in Kapka Kassabova's maternal family. As she journeys to her grandmother's place of origin, Kassabova encounters a civilisational crossroads.