04 August 2022, The Tablet

Speed reading: James Moran picks debut novels


This summer sees the publication of three accomplished works by first-time novelists.

Rachael McGill’s debut, Fair Trade Heroin (Dedalus, £9.99; Tablet price, £9), is set between present-day London and mid-1990s Afghanistan, a country which is being taken over by the Taliban for the first time. McGill tells the story of an idealistic aid-worker (a heroine with an interest in heroin) and her teenage daughter, as hidden family secrets are suddenly revealed. McGill is particularly good at pointing to the inhumanity of the British asylum system, and the way that an apparently amorphous mass of Afghan and Pakistani refugees actually consists of a wide range of classes, customs and cultures.

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