Our friends at Emirates Literature Festival share three conversation-starting novels…

The temperature is rising, and at the Emirates Literature Foundation we are enjoying some of the hottest novels of the season. Who doesn’t love being able to weigh in on literary debates and add their perspective? Here are a few novels making waves right now.

American Dirt, by Jeanine Cummins

American Dirt

The spotlight has been on this New York Times bestseller since it was released earlier this year, when it sparked a new wave of debate about authenticity and raised questions about who has the right to tell certain stories.

This devastating novel tells the story of a wife and mother whose comfortable life with her family comes to an abrupt end when her journalist husband is murdered. Fleeing her hometown with her eight-year-old son, she shows us what it is to lose everything in a heartbeat. They strike out for the Mexico-USA border, undocumented and in fear of their lives, desperately struggling to escape to survive and find another chance to live.

My Dark Vanessa, by Kate Elizabeth Russell

My Dark Vanessa

A chilling novel that shines a light on the weight of responsibility and consent, as it is skilfully – terrifyingly to the reader – transferred to 14-year -old Vanessa by her 42-year-old teacher and boyfriend.

Alternating between Vanessa’s present and her past, the novel weaves a story of coming of age and trauma, revealing the long-lasting effects of abuse. The force of the narrative is like a horror story; you can’t look away.

The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett

the dutch house

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From the author of Bel Canto, this stunning novel grabs your heart from the first few chapters and holds it, lightly at first, increasing pressure with each page.

Siblings Danny and Maeve Conroy grow up in the Dutch House, a conspicuously ostentatious house named not for its style, but by the nationality of the previous owners. With a distant father and an absent mother, Danny is being lovingly cared for by Maeve and two employees, until the father remarries a much younger woman and their quiet life changes forever.

There are elements of a fairy tale in this family drama, with a wicked stepmother, a missing mother, and a grand castle-like home from which the children are eventually banished. But it is far more sensitive and nuanced than the typical fairy tale, and as the story gently unfolds, we vacillate between righteous hurt, love and compassion, until we no longer know with any certainty what is right.

The Boundless Book Club

We have been talking about books, including our guilty pleasures, as well as poetry and self help books over on the Boundless Book Club podcast and you can find it here, and on all your favourite podcast platforms. We have also been enjoying thought-provoking cross cultural conversations as part of our Literary Conversations Across Borders programme, and you can see what’s coming up next here. Don’t forget to check out our YouTube channel for sessions, author interviews and more book chat.