In Grand Union (Hamish Hamilton, £20; Tablet price £18), Zadie Smith reveals her characteristic combination of humour and sadness in 19 pieces which, even when they verge into fantasy, remain robustly human. The reader is hurled into the lives of altogether disparate people – a pair of louche Cambridge undergrads and their drug dealer; a tainted cop hoping to get his life back; a drag queen buying a corset; a little boy learning about class – but, however odd they are, these characters always retain a strand of loveability.
Speed reading: Sarah Hayes loves short stories
Books for Christmas
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