As a collection of energetic, visceral short stories, A Book of Blues is both a sign of the rude health of the short story form and a salutary reminder that Courttia Newland is one of the most unusual and invigorating writers on the current literary scene. From the disparate fictions he has tackled, we are reminded that Newland has mastered the tropes of crime fiction and the more rarefied literary forms on display here. With the immensely resilient (and ever renewable) form of the blues at its base, Newland deals with a variety of fascinating narratives involving a very varied cast of characters, all united in the sheer vitality of the characterisation.

Newland may be a black writer, but he is also a writer for every reader who has no truck with the notion of appealing only to a particular fiefdom. It is a remarkable collection.

Barry Forshaw CRIME TIME


There’s a huge spider in the corner of Darren’s bedroom ceiling. Is it alive or dead? It lingers for days, and he assures his girlfriend that he’ll get rid of it. This spider, however, comes to stand for the dreadful jealousy that will eventually destroy the relationship. This is Spider Man, one of a collection of short stories by a writer with a gift for expressing the ordinary in an original way. He writes a lot about the dynamics of the family. In All Woman, a young woman is confused about her own feelings when her teenage daughter becomes a sexual rival. And Re-Entry epitomises the melancholy of old friends who have grown apart. Excellent.

Kate Saunders THE TIMES