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Culture Choices 2021: Literature

Culture Choices 2021 is a series by Roar’s Culture section on their favourite releases of the year in Music, Films and Literature. 

2021 is almost over and there have been some incredible books released this year, from incredible non-fiction works such as “My Body” by Emily Ratajkowski to fiction like “The Books of Jacob” by Olga Tokarczuk. Here at Roar, we have put together five of our favourite books this year.

“The Fell” by Sarah Moss

Sarah Moss is the queen of pandemic fiction. I was extremely hesitant to read a book set around the coronavirus, but the way in which Sarah Moss writes is so beautiful, and she encapsulates every single feeling and thought I’ve had about the pandemic. The novel is set in the Peak District in November 2020, as a single mum and furloughed waitress, Kate, who has been self-isolating with her son, Matt, for ten days, finally reaches her breaking point. She decides to go on a quick hike just to feel the outside again. Kate, who was just taking a quick solitary walk, falls and badly injures herself which leads to a mountain rescue operation to save her. “The Fell” explores the repercussions coronavirus has had on the world.

“Ace of Spades” by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Named as Marie Claire’s must-read summer novel, marketed as “Get Out” meets “Gossip Girl,” “Ace of Spades” is one of the best books I’ve ever read. It’s about two students, Devon and Chiamaka, and their struggles against an anonymous bully who sets out to ruin their lives. The book is dark and mysterious, which makes every twist and turn greater to read. The novel explores how racism is systemic in academia and is more than one person’s micro-agressions. It also explores being queer and the different experiences queer people have.

“Detransition, Baby” by Torrey Peters

“Detransition, Baby” is about Reese who is in a loving relationship with Amy, and whose life is great, except one thing that was missing: a baby. We see them three years later when, after being attacked in the street, Amy de-transitions to become Ames, changes jobs and, thinking he is infertile, starts an affair with his boss, Katrina. Except now Katrina’s pregnant, so he calls his ex, Reese, and asks her if she wants to be a mother. The novel explores if the three of them could form an unconventional family and raise the baby together. “Detransition, Baby” is witty and an incredible debut novel from Torrey Peters. It’s an unforgettable book that explores the life of three women as they attempt to navigate motherhood in the 21st century as trans and cis women.

“Assembly” by Natasha Brown

Another incredible debut novel from Natasha Brown. The novel describes how a Black British woman’s life is informed by racism. Only 100 pages long, we see the narrator appear to get everything she could dream of – a big promotion, and going to her rich boyfriend’s family garden party – but when she’s suddenly diagnosed with cancer, she begins to question her supposed success. She decides to take control of her life, even at the cost of her life. Written beautifully, it’s understandable why the novel is compared to Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs Dalloway”.

“The Boyband Murder Mystery” by Ava Eldred

“The Boyband Murder Mystery” reminded me of when I was a teenager and obsessed with boybands. This book is gripping from start to finish, as it tells the story of Harri and her best friends who prove the innocence of a member of their favourite band, Half Light. They quickly become detectives, because who knows boybands better than their fans? Ava Eldred’s writing perfectly encapsulates the love fans have for boybands, and how music can help you find lifelong friends. It also explores how no matter what we think we know about someone in the public eye, there’s so much more we don’t know.

What were your favourite books this year?

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