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On Exit West

Mohsin Hamid's fourth novel, Exit West, is superbly written and filled with surprises.  The biggest is Hamid's tone of insistent optimism.  The novel concerns mass migration from places in the South or East blasted by unstable and volatile politics or environmental decay to places of seeming stability in the West.

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All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg

 

Jami Attenberg's (The Middlesteins) short sharp novel of a woman about to turn 40 is funny and smart.  Her protagonist, Andrea Bern, is single, childless, not in any sort of sustaining love relationship, and works at a job that she doesn't much like but is good at. Over twenty time-skipping chapters we learn the many layers of life experience that have shaped Andrea from childhood to the present.

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Ali Smith's Autumn

In Ali Smith's wonderful book Artful (2013), based on a series of lectures she gave at Oxford, which combines fiction and the essay form in an astonishing and complex discussion of art and storytelling, she writes the following

 Books need time to dawn on us, it takes time to understand what makes them, structurally, in thematic resonance, in afterthought, and always in correspondence with the books which came before them, because books are produced by books more than by writers; they're a result of all the books that went before them.

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