A A fictional tale of an actual miscarriage of justice, this Booker shortlisted novel opens with the news of George VI’s death being broadcast over the radio at a Cardiff Tiger Bay milk bar, where Somali sailor Mahmood Mattan sits stopped for coffee. It is 1952: Britain has a new queen, cracks have appeared in the empire, and bar bosses, including Trinidadians, Somalis and Maltese sailors, wonder which colony will gain independence next. .
The book is narrated by actor Hugh Quarshie, who skillfully leads a multicultural cast of characters, including shopkeeper Violet, experiencing the aftermath of the Jewish genocide; his sister Diane; Diana’s young daughter, Grace; Mahmood’s ex-wife, Laura; and various police and prison officers. After Violet is brutally murdered in her shop during a robbery, the finger is pointed at Mahmood, a gamer, a petty thief and a big-hearted father of three who lives in a boarding house for “colored” and is known among the locals as “the ghost”. His story is based on the case of the 28-year-old man of the same name who, after a three-day trial, was found guilty and was among the last men to be hanged in Wales. In 1998, his conviction was overturned.
Drawing on Mohamed’s evocative prose, Quarshie captures Mahmood’s resilience as he attempts to whitewash his name, placing undue faith in a racist justice system and a state that will do anything to preserve the status quo.
The Fortune Men is available on Penguin Audio, 10am 32min.
Cuckoo Earth Cloud
Anthony Doerr, 4th Domaine, 14h and 52min
The Pulitzer Prize winner’s latest novel, which ranges from 15th-century Constantinople to a spaceship of a future era, is brightly told by Marin Ireland and Simon Jones.
this is true
Myriam Margolaundry, John Murray, 15h 7 min
Brilliant stories abound in this memoir, read by Margolyes herself, which is honest, poignant and insanely indiscreet.