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.

A Book of Blues by Courttia Newland is published by Flambard Press

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