Vintage, £8.99, pp256 (paperback)
The central idea in Vuong’s memorable debut novel is love after trauma – the Vietnam war, a violent home life, childhood bullying. But this coming-of-age story defies convention and cliche, opening out into a beautifully crafted letter from a son to a mother (who cannot read) about her own history and his own present. Courageous and unafraid to shock, it’s a painfully accurate portrait of 21st-century America at work and at home.
HarperCollins, £20, pp304
Social media is rarely good for footballers, but it has been valuable for former Everton goalkeeper Neville Southall. As he admits in this powerful reflection on mental health and the fear of failure, the positive parts of Twitter not only broadened his mind but enabled him to be kind, socially aware and a voice for good. This book explores issues close to his heart such as alcoholism, addiction and homophobia – both within football and wider society – and he closes each chapter with a short poem from Anne-Marie Silbiger. Not your usual ex-footballer biography, and all the better for it.
Pan Macmillan, £14.99, pp400
One suspects Saviano will always be known as the bestselling author of Gomorrah, his eye-opening first-hand account of the Naples mafia. His mob fiction in the same territory has been less successful, but this sequel to 2018’s thriller The Piranhas certainly suggests Saviano feels there is more to explore. Here, the teenage Piranhas gang struggle to stay at the top of the Naples crime tree, and while there’s a certain amount of intrigue and visceral enjoyment to be had in the betrayal and revenge that follows, it does feel derivative – if grimly fascinating.