In brief: Mrs Death Misses Death; How to Be a Refugee; Weather – review

Hannah Beckerman
·2 min read

Mrs Death Misses Death

Salena Godden

Canongate, £14.99, pp320

Mrs Death is beleaguered. Her job – as Death – is endless and exhausting. Wolf Willeford is a young writer who has suffered more than his fair share of tragedy, and when he meets Death in person – a black, working-class woman – he is mesmerised, and decides to write her memoir. Told in sparse, affecting prose interspersed with poetry, Godden produces a thought-provoking novel that travels across time and place to question the value of life, the experiences of womanhood, and grief in all its forms.

How to Be a Refugee: One Family’s Story of Exile and Belonging

Simon May

Picador, £20, pp320

Simon May was raised in Britain as a Catholic, but was forbidden to identify as British. Neither was he allowed to identify as Jewish or German, despite his family’s origins. After one of his aunts reveals the truth about his father’s death, May embarks on a quest to uncover his family’s true history: a story of steadfast denial of their Jewish heritage through extraordinary means in order to escape the fate of Jewish people living in Hitler’s Germany.


Jenny Offill

Granta, £8.99, pp224 (paperback)

Told in a laconic, compelling interior monologue, Weather follows the wide-ranging concerns of its librarian protagonist, Lizzie, from the quotidian – a painful knee, her son’s academic progress at school – to the profound – the election of Trump and a looming climate change disaster. Lizzie’s former university professor is now the popular host of an apocalyptic podcast, and Lizzie agrees to answer her conspiracy-filled mail from listeners. Written in deft, compact paragraphs, Offill’s novel balances insight with humour and a timely, ambient sense of anxiety.

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