Small Island

By Andrea Levy £7.99

A winner of the Whitbread & Orange prizes, you might expect this novel to be worthy and obscure, but far from it. It's an absorbing, beautifully written and insightful read, focusing on the racism encountered by Jamaican immigrants after the Second World War. In the characters of Queenie, the white working-class London landlady, Gilbert, the Jamaican airman, and Hortense, his haughty wife from a marriage of convenience, who comes over to join him, Andrea Levy has created fabulously real characters whose lives interweave, and despite the brutality and pain of life around them, care for each other in subtle and touching ways. As an exploration of a point in England's past when everything changed never to be the same again, and the ordinary but extraordinary people who made and lived through those changes, it is an important and honest book, and wonderfully moving. Truly the best novel I've read in ages.

A Vegan Taste of North Africa

By Linda Majzlik. £5.99

This is just one of a series of Vegan Taste of … cookbooks (others in the series include the Caribbean, India, Italy, France and the Middle East), with healthy, tasty, meat-free, dairy-free recipes from the region where Africa and the Mediterranean meet. The book is very simply presented, illustrated only with a couple of line-drawings, and recipes are grouped into snacks and starters, main courses, salads, and so on. A handy feature is the "Storecupboard" of staple ingredients, making it easy to compile a shopping list that will give you all you need to cook several different recipes. As someone who would like in principle to cook meals from scratch with fresh ingredients but rarely does. I found it easy to use, and enjoyed the results! A great way to try out vegan cooking as well as exploring the palette of tastes from a particular region.

Not For Sale: Feminists Resisting Prostitution and Pornography

Edited by Christine Stark & Rebecca Whisnant. £14.95

The sex industry is becoming increasingly normalised, even celebrated - but is porn just entertainment? Is prostitution just work? Here thirty writers and activists, female and male, write about the human rights issues and power inequalities inherent in a multi-billion dollar industry in the business of, more than anything, making women available to men for a price. While this book is not short of research and personal accounts about the negative effects of prostitution and porn, many of the writers look beyond well-trodden debates over whether the work is coercive and harmful or freely chosen and liberating, arguing that the buying and selling of sex - of people's bodies - is linked to wider global issues: militarism, racism, and corporate capitalist greed. Often crudely and irrelevantly misrepresented as 'anti-sex', many of the contributors are frontline activists against gender violence - whatever your views on the issue, their critical voices deserve to be heard.

Reviewed by Mandy Vere & Maria Ng from News from Nowhere

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