In brief: Signs of Life; Against the Loveless World; Inland – review

Ben East
·2-min read

Signs of Life
Stephen Fabes
Pursuit, £18.99, pp416

Dr Stephen Fabes was at the end of his 20s when he caught the travelling bug, a craving for “more space, more time, more risk: more adventure” – so he packed his stuff on to a bicycle and spent the next six years pedalling across six continents. What begins as a journey of self-discovery becomes a thoughtful exploration of humanity, and though the sheer scale of the quest sometimes results in a lack of detail, Fabes is great company and makes riding bicycles seem like the best way to see and understand the world.

Against the Loveless World
Susan Abulhawa
Bloomsbury, £16.99, pp384

This fierce, unyielding novel about trauma is narrated by a Palestinian woman, Nahr , from a cement cube in Israel, where she has been imprisoned as a terrorist. It’s a tale that takes in persecution in Kuwait during the Gulf war and resistance in Palestine. Slowly, it becomes a love story too as Nahr finds kindred spirits and some kind of peace. An eye-opening insight into the life of the victimised.

Téa Obreht
W&N, £8.99, pp400 (paperback)

For Inland, Obreht moves her gaze from the war-scarred Balkans of the award-winning The Tiger’s Wife to 19th-century Arizona – but some of her concerns remain; displacement, disappearance, the threat of death, a search for home. Balkan immigrant Lurie is a wanted outlaw who becomes part of the camel corps, riding dromedaries to California. His story of reinvention is interspersed with that of Nora, a frontierswoman battling with drought and doubt. Updating the western has become all too common, but Obreht finds unusual, compelling and often magical ways to tell the story of America.

• To order Signs of Life: To the Ends of the Earth With a Doctor, Against the Loveless World or Inland go to Free UK p&p over £15