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SW_1-36v3 (dragged) 4

SW_1-36v3 (dragged)

MAGNIFICENT FICTION FROM THE NOVELISTS… FOOTBALL'S GAY CONFUSION WORDS, WORDS AND MORE WORDS A NATURAL BY ROSS RAISIN. VINTAGE, £8.99 A brilliant cornering of a creature of legend: the gay man in pro football Sport has long stuck with some truly bizarre interpretations of masculinity – golf with its preposterous wardrobe, rugby with its hideously over-intimate scrum, and football, with its ludicrous “heroes”. As a kid, Tom Pearman fancied himself a bit of a hero, banging them in for a top side’s academy team. But then they let him go and he slid down the leagues, stuck on the wing, then the bench, friendless, isolated and gay. And you can't say "football" isn't tenacious in its utter refusal to make eye contact with that last theme. So instead of milking the adoration of fans, Pearman finds himself bathed in shame for his liaisons with a groundsman. Rumours take hold, and it’s fair to say his teammates don’t exactly cover themselves in glory, Gary. TOTAL SEQUIN POWER CONVERSATIONS WITH FRIENDS BY SALLY ROONEY. FABER, £8.99 Women's relationships splinter when they make the mistake of talking about them Frances and her former girlfriend Bobbi like to perform their poetry at open mike nights around Dublin, and are not short of an opinion or two, nor lack the means to express them. But drawn into an unusual ménage a quatre with a well-off woman and her husband they find that being smart and articulate isn’t enough to see them through the experience unharmed. Not in the fat lip/ sore knuckles sense, but in realising that people aren’t always at their most honest on the topic of feelings. This is pleasingly clever stuff, from an author who was once “the number one competitive debater on the continent of Europe,” and so well placed to measure the gap between the sincerity of the thought and the words that emerge from the mouth. Including one's own. A LAST RUN AT THE NAZIS FAMILIES, BETRAYAL AND ISIS HOME FIRE BY KAMILA SHAMSIE BLOOMSBURY, £8.99 Aimless young London man's decision to join Isis causes untold family havoc Bombarded with prizes on publication in hardback, Home Fire is one of the titles you are going to have to navigate great walls of when leaving the country via an airport this summer. The publisher’s proud announcement that the book is a reimagining of Sophocles’ Antigone may leave most book buyers none the wiser, but push past the classical humblebrag and here is drama and dilemma aplenty. Just feel your brain tear itself apart as it tries to align with the various members of two British Muslim families and their vain attempts to prioritise their loyalties. The Pashas of Wembley are the orphaned offspring of a loser jihadi who died on the way to Guantanamo. The daughters want a life, the son favours his dad's career path. The second family is headed by Home Secretary Karamat Lone of snooty Holland Park. He makes a right mess of bossily instructing Asians to assimilate. Disaster ahoy – and strong candidate for ending of the year. THE HOUSE OF IMPOSSIBLE BEAUTIES BY JOSEPH CASSARA ONEWORLD £14.99 Men in heels seek identity in 80s New York drag underground/ sea of glitter Set in the 1980s New York "ballroom" scene of the legendary documentary Paris is Burning, (in which some of the city’s more outre citizens organise into drag “houses” in order to achieve "realness", i.e. confirm that they exist as people) protagonist Angle finds the house system has no place for a Puerto Rican, so she has to establish her own, and with it a family of fabulous misfits. Beneath all the gigantic eyelashes though, are challenging family circumstances, complex erotic solutions, the never-smooth path of a career in prostitution and the arrival of the black bat AIDS. If you’re wondering how a person might survive such an ordeal – community, lipstick and the sharpest of tongues all help. RED SKY AT NOON BY SIMON SEBAG MONTEFIORE ARROW, £8.99 WW2 hero swaps Gulag for Stalingrad in fi n a l c o n t r i b u t i o n t o a n t i - N a ff z i o e r t An invitation to join a mounted suicide mission against the Nazis at Stalingrad isn’t one that typically gladdens the day, but stuck in the Gulag for a crime he didn’t commit, it’s one that Benya Golden RSVPs to warmly. This is the final part of the author’s Moscow Trilogy, and given his vast output of Russian history, he is not short of evidence to help the reader decide whether Golden has made the right decision. It’s a toss up as to whether the Gulag or the eastern front is grimmer, but at least on the outside there’s a lovely Italian nurse, even if he first has to fall into the hands of an enemy not known for its generosity toward Russians careless enough to be captured. Execution looms – but wait! (PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK) 26 STRONG WORDS APRIL 2018 SUBSCRIBE AT: STRONG-WORDS.CO.UK