2021 is turning out to be a fantastic year… for publishing. In this series of blog posts, we want to highlight the titles we at The Portobello Bookshop are most excited about this year. Starting off with some of the best new hardback fiction coming in 2021, this list features well-known authors as well as debuts and books you may not have heard of yet but you should definitely check out.
Just a note that because this is a list of forthcoming titles, some purchases will be pre-orders and you will receive your books as they are published over the coming months.
No. 10 Luckenbooth Close is an archetypal Edinburgh tenement. The devil’s daughter rows to the shores of Leith in a coffin.
The year is 1910 and she has been sent to a tenement building in Edinburgh by her recently deceased father to bear a child for a wealthy man and his fiancee. The harrowing events that follow lead to a curse on the building and its residents – a curse that will last for the rest of the century. Over nine decades, No. 10 Luckenbooth Close bears witness to emblems of a changing world outside its walls. An infamous madam, a spy, a famous Beat poet, a coal miner who fears daylight, a psychic: these are some of the residents whose lives are plagued by the building’s troubled history in disparate, sometimes chilling ways. The curse creeps up the nine floors and an enraged spirit world swells to the surface, desperate for the true horror of the building’s longest kept secret to be heard.
Two young people meet at a pub in South East London. Both are Black and British, both won scholarships to go to private schools where they struggled to belong, both are now artists – he a photographer, she a dancer – trying to make their mark in a city that by turns celebrates and rejects them. Tentatively, tenderly, they fall in love.
But two people who seem destined to be together can still be torn apart by fear and violence. At once an achingly beautiful love story and a potent exploration into race and masculinity, Open Water asks what it means to be a person in a world that sees you only as a Black body, to be vulnerable when you are only respected for strength, to find safety in love, only to lose it.View Product
As a child, Gifty would ask her parents to tell the story of their journey from Ghana to Alabama, seeking escape in myths of heroism and romance. When her father and brother succumb to the hard reality of immigrant life in the American South, their family of four becomes two – and the life Gifty dreamed of slips away. Years later, desperate to understand the opioid addiction that destroyed her brother’s life, she turns to science for answers.
But when her mother comes to stay, Gifty soon learns that the roots of their tangled traumas reach farther than she ever thought. Tracing her family’s story through continents and generations will take her deep into the dark heart of modern America. Transcendent Kingdom is a searing story story of love, loss and redemption, and the myriad ways we try to rebuild our lives from the rubble of our collective pasts.
Three keepers vanish from a remote lighthouse, miles from the shore. The entrance door is locked from the inside. The clocks have stopped. The Principal Keeper’s weather log describes a mighty storm, but the skies have been clear all week. What happened to those three men, out on the tower? The heavy sea whispers their names. The tide shifts beneath the swell, drowning ghosts.
Can their secrets ever be recovered from the waves? Twenty years later, the women they left behind are still struggling to move on. Helen, Jenny and Michelle should have been united by the tragedy, but instead it drove them apart. Inspired by real events, The Lamplighters is an intoxicating and suspenseful mystery, an unforgettable story of love and grief that explores the way our fears blur the line between the real and the imagined.View Product
Soho; the only part of London that truly never sleeps. Tourists dawdling, chancers skulking, addicts shuffling, sex workers strutting, punters prowling, businessmen striding, the homeless and the lost. Down Wardour Street, ducking onto Dean Street, sweeping into L’Escargot, darting down quiet back alleyways, skirting dumpsters and drunks, emerging on to raucous main roads, fizzing with energy and riotous with life. On a corner, sits a large townhouse, the same as all its neighbours.
But this building hosts a teeming throng of rich and poor, full from the basement right up to the roof terrace. Precious and Tabitha call the top floors their home but it’s under threat; the billionaire owner Agatha wants to kick the women out to build expensive restaurants and luxury flats. Men like Robert, who visit the brothel, will have to go elsewhere.
Those like Cheryl, who sleep in the basement, will have to find somewhere else to hide after dark. But the women won’t go quietly. Soho is their turf and they are ready for a fight.
Helen Grant is a mystery to her daughter. An extrovert with few friends who has sought intimacy in the wrong places; a twice-divorced mother-of-two now living alone surrounded by her memories, Helen (known to her acquaintances as ‘Hen’) has always haunted Bridget. Now, Bridget is an academic in her forties.
She sees Helen once a year, and considers the problem to be contained. As she looks back on their tumultuous relationship – the performances and small deceptions – she tries to reckon with the cruelties inflicted on both sides. But when Helen makes it clear that she wants more, it seems that an old struggle will have to be replayed.
Dawn breaks across the archipelago of Popisho. The world is stirring awake again, each resident with their own list of things to do: A wedding feast to conjure and cook; an infidelity to investigate; a lost soul to set free. As the sun rises two star-crossed lovers try to find their way back to one another across this single day. When night falls, all have been given a gift, and many are no longer the same.
The sky is pink, and some wonder if it will ever be blue again.