Problems by Jade Sharma review – strangely uplifting

A young junkie parades her life of deceit in this frank and sharp debut

I had concerns with the cover of Problems. That title, screamed in fuchsia all-caps on a vaguely urban, desolate background… it comes off a little “awkward YA novel”, with characters probably called Trent, or Lexxxi. You know how it is. A sort of millennial Melvin Burgess, but not nearly as good. The PR blurb says that this is an “edgy” book, clearly unaware that if someone described a party as “edgy” you would immediately choose not to go.

I needn’t have worried. Problems, the debut of Indian-American writer Jade Sharma, is wonderful. Our narrator is Maya, a young New Yorker, who works part-time in a bookshop while ostensibly writing her MA thesis and who is married to a nice (read: boring) guy called Peter. Maya is having two ill-advised affairs: one with her former college ...

Problems by Jade Sharma review – strangely uplifting

A young junkie parades her life of deceit in this frank and sharp debut

I had concerns with the cover of Problems. That title, screamed in fuchsia all-caps on a vaguely urban, desolate background… it comes off a little “awkward YA novel”, with characters probably called Trent, or Lexxxi. You know how it is. A sort of millennial Melvin Burgess, but not nearly as good. The PR blurb says that this is an “edgy” book, clearly unaware that if someone described a party as “edgy” you would immediately choose not to go.

I needn’t have worried. Problems, the debut of Indian-American writer Jade Sharma, is wonderful. Our narrator is Maya, a young New Yorker, who works part-time in a bookshop while ostensibly writing her MA thesis and who is married to a nice (read: boring) guy called Peter. Maya is having two ill-advised affairs: one with her former college ...

Book clinic: what are the best titles for LGBTQ+ representation?

Armistead Maupin, Jeanette Winterson and a host of other good writers have brought gay literature into the mainstream

Q: What are some good books with LGBTQ+ representation? I’m a bisexual Australian 16-year-old.
(Wishes to remain anonymous)

A: Hannah Jane Parkinson, comment and features writer on the Guardian and Observer
LGBTQ-themed books were once few and far between – either polemics relegated to dark genre corners of bookshops, or artless fiction with awful titles and even worse covers. Wider representation of LGBTQ people in publishing and progressive attitudes have pushed queer books into the mainstream, however. Works often now include gay characters and scenes without necessarily revolving around specific queer “issues” (though these are still important).

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Fire on All Sides and Paper Cuts review – forensic accounts of surviving child rape

Two books by men who were sexually abused as children are unblinking in their accounts of violation and a lifetime’s psychological aftermath

Wherever you read these books will end up feeling incongruous. There’s an uncomfortable dissonance in reading about some of the most harrowing things men can do to children, and the psychological turmoil that unleashes, while on the bus, or waiting for coffee. But neither title sets out to be comfortable.

Paper Cuts, written in only six weeks, is a memoir by Stephen Bernard, a visiting professor of English at Oxford. His book details the persistent sexual abuse he suffered as a child at the hands of a Canon DT Fogarty. James Rhodes is the concert pianist whose first book, Instrumental, became the subject of probably the most high-profile publishing legal battle in the UK since the Da Vinci Code copyright case, after Rhodes’s ex-wife tried to ...

A response to the 100 best nonfiction books list: ‘Some I agree with, some I’d add, and some I’d hoof right off the field’

The Guardian’s Hannah Jane Parkinson on Robert McCrum’s choices

Robert McCrum reflects on his 100 best nonfiction books list
See the list in full here

As listicles of The Best… proliferate, I’m often reminded of the Arctic Monkeys lyric, “there’s only music/ so that there’s new ringtones”. Part of me worries about becoming a society that publishes books just to round them up into end-of-year lists, or designing jackets to the specifications of an artsy Instagram post. How would this play among the influencers?

But then I am a book nerd, so really I love them. While others might dissipate a sort of listless frenetic energy in cleaning the house, or baking or boozing, I end up reordering books into shelf sections like a kid playing schoolteacher assigning pupils into classes.

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Prescribed reading: Five of the best books by doctors

As Adam Kay’s This Is Going to Hurt wins a readers’ choice award, we recommend five other author physicians. Please add to our notes

Congratulations to Adam Kay, who has triumphed in the Books Are My Bag awards as readers’ choice of the year. This Is Going to Hurt, his diary of life as a junior doctor, was voted for by 40,000 fans. Kay joins a long tradition of author physicians. It makes sense, sort of – doctors and writers share a sense of focus; a detached, objective perspective; and a process of trial and error that hopefully resolves things. For those who enjoyed Kay’s book, here are five more medical reads by medics …

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Stop ‘fascism’ becoming word of the year, urges US dictionary

Merriam-Webster, which ranks the most frequent searches on its website, has the term as 2016’s most popular so far, and is encouraging sunnier inquiries The US dictionary Merriam-Webster has implored word-lovers to help prevent “fascism” becoming its word of the year. The Twitter feed for the dictionary, which picks its word of the year according to popularity in online search, announced: “There’s still time to look something else up.” Continue reading...