If I survive you; Mrs. Anne Sykes’ dressing diary; Home/Country – review

<span>Photo: Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy</span>” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/H4nqzHsyICg238_Tpl9l.Q–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/theguardian_763/c88418751763ad93078ae570197 data-cc” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/H4nqzHsyICg238_Tpl9l.Q–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/theguardian_763/c88418751763ad93078ae500197/7″</div>
<p><figcaption class=Photo: Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy

Jonathan Escoffery
Fourth Stand, £14.99p272

Humor and a second-person sense of narration illuminate the experiences of a Jamaican family living in Miami in this invigorating series of linked stories. Topper and Sanya flee to the US when political unrest engulfs Kingston in 1979, but the collection actually belongs to the younger of their two sons, Trelawny, a bookboy whose pale skin means he’s been forced from an early age to question ” What are you?” Its implications lead him to the Midwest, where he attends a liberal arts college, and a succession of bizarre, sometimes questionable jobs he must take to make ends meet. Despite a financial crisis and a hurricane, hope flickers amid the trauma and turbulence. An impressive debut from a talent to watch.

Kate Stradin
Chatto & Windus, £22p320

At the center of this searching and gripping social history is an album covered in pink silk, the blue pages filled with 2,000 scraps of cloth. Each fragment has its own neatly engraved label and a 19th-century date, but who put it together? Strasdin, a cultural studies teacher and costume enthusiast, was determined to solve this “beautiful mystery” and her sleuthing has led her to Anne Sykes, a Lancashire woman who for 50 years kept samples of wool, silk, cotton and lace from which her friends and family had their clothes made. Featuring true stories of merchant life, pirates and princesses, these fragments commemorate the networks of female companionship Anne built as her life shifted from the industrial north to Singapore and Shanghai.

Rebecca Mede
Grove Press UK, £9.99, pp240 (paperback)

In the stunned aftermath of the 2016 US election, adoptive New Yorker Mead and her husband decided to move to London with their 13-year-old son. Mead was born there but grew up in Weymouth and left for the US as a young graduate, making this midlife move less a homecoming than a disturbing journey of discovery. Meditations on the city she left behind and the enchanted life she built there align with an exploration of her new metropolis, its contemporary idiosyncrasies and its celebrated past. She captures shifting moods with precision, while a vibrant interplay of ambivalence and curiosity provides insight into the meaning of home and the ways in which the chronology of our lives becomes closely intertwined with ever-changing urban backdrops.

• To order If I survive you, The Dress Diary of Mrs Anne Sykes or Home country go to guardianbookshop.com. Delivery charges may apply

Leave a Comment