While Manchester is known around the world as a historic epicentre of modern music, the city boasts an equally impressive record for producing literary luminaries across every genre and academic field.

Whether you’re a local history enthusiast, a crime thriller aficionado or a character study connoisseur, Manchester’s renowned authors have got you covered.

Here’s our selection of critically acclaimed books by local legends of literature.

The Falling Thread by Adam O’Riordan

Be transported to the great Mancunian summer of 1890—to a city buzzing with development, industrialisation and excitement with Adam O’Riordan’s debut novel, The Falling Thread. 

Following protagonist, Charles, who is seemingly excluded from this buzz residing in a suburban villa on holiday, uncover the ways in which he stays entertained during the summer. Following an affair with his little sisters’ governess, Hettie, Charles must face the long-lasting consequences of his summer pursuits.

Explore the generational shifts within this one family sparked by the turn of the new century as Charles’ little sisters grow up to experience a total different Manchester than he did. On sale now for £10.49.

Out of the Dark by David Gaffney

An eerie tale of obsession, tragedy and grief—if you’re looking for something a little more serious, then Out of the Dark by David Gaffney is the one for you. Follow Daniel Quinn’s compulsive and repetitious routine of endlessly re-watching an old British film noir in a small flat at the very top of a high-rise block in Birmingham as you soon unfurl what he is searching for in this odd B-flick.

A story of corruption and deceit, read on to explore the ways Gaffney blurs the lines between the film noir genre with Quinn’s personal journey of grief. On sale now for £9.99.

The Handover by David M. Barnett

Looking for something a little more uplifting? Not to worry, this one by David M. Barnett is the perfect remedy for a bad day. A wholesome love story between Daisy, the night security guard at the Manchester Museum of Social History, and Nate who works the day shift—this is a heart-warming tale of the beginnings of falling in love, basically, the ultimate workplace romance.

The two can only interact for only five minutes each day when their shifts overlap during the handover and, bit-by-bit, they soon realise their developing feelings for each other…On sale now for £14.99.

Erringby by Gill Darling

Follow the events of Kit, orphaned from a young age, as he eagerly waits for this life to begin. After rejecting the plain-Jane atmosphere of his adoptive parents’—he slowly becomes pulled to the cool and subversive bohemian world that his Uncle Col and wife Marianne reside within.

The 18-year-old soon develops feelings for Marianne after a stint of living in the freedom of Erringby, her family mansion. Shortly after, Kit finds himself in bed with Marianne.

Follow the story to see how Kit navigates the consequences of that fateful night and the ways in which his life, as well as Uncle Col and Marianne’s, are forever altered. This is the coming-of-age novel that marks the twists and turns of the ever-changing cultural landscape from the 1970s all the way through the 1990s. On sale now for £8.99.

No Bombing by Dr. Me's

Definitely one of the coolest and avant-garde choices we’ve got, No Bombing is an experimental ode to the art of mixed mediums.

The text is a complimentary mix where collage meets writing, featuring 30 eye-grabbing and evocative collages put together by Mark Christian Edwards, who meshes together photos of both pools and detonated bombs to create a set of really powerful images.

Accompanied by a vibrant collection of words spanning short stories, poems and recipes covering the subjects of swimming, pools, diving and the fear of the deep blue sea—this would make a brilliant addition to your stack of coffee table texts. On sale now for £17.

Best British Short Stories 2021 by Nicholas Royle

For the 11th year, this collection of the Best British Short Stories edited by Nicholas Royle is a brilliant buy for anyone who loves a quick read and nothing too intense. The range of works in the guide cover all bases from magazines to newspapers to anthologies.

Royle has selected the cream of the crop and brought them all together in one big volume of works. Featuring words by Simon Okotie, Iphgenia Baal, John Foxx, Meave Haughey & many more—this one won’t disappoint. On sale now for £9.99.

White Spines: Confessions of a Book Collector by Nicholas Royle

Another one by Manchester-born writer, Nicholas Royle, is a brilliant fusion of narrative non-fiction and memoir.

Perfect for any avid bookworms or just anyone who is curious to know the inner workings of the mind of a bookish bloke, this text beautifully explores the culture of bookshops, the retro publishing process from the 1970s to the end of the 1990s, the role of charity shops and how Royle’s small collection of texts slowly expanded until it became a fully-fledged literary obsession.

Effectively, this is a warming love letter to books, writing and writers intertwined. On sale now for £9.99.

Here Again Now by Okechukwu Nzelu

If you’re looking to be hooked in immediately, this one’s for you. Straight from the mind of award-winning author, Okechukwu Nzelu, comes a seminal novel posing the important questions about time, healing and the process of moving on and letting go.

Following the protagonist Achike Okoro, this is a tale all about the relationship between himself, his father Chibuike and his best friend of twenty years, Ekene. Just as Achike and Ekene come as close as they ever will in admitting their feelings for each other, tragedy rips all three men apart in a tale of grief, happiness and learning. On sale now for £14.99.

The Key In The Lock by Beth Underdown

A real page-turner, this is the newest work from the author of award-winning The Witchfinder’s Sister, Beth Underdown.

A tale of mourning, this story follows Ivy Boscawen dealing with the loss of her son, Tim, by day but, by night, grieves the much less recent loss of another boy. In an attempt to uncover some much-needed truth, Ivy opens up a door to the past and questions if she’ll ever be able to truly close it back up again.

Covering long-buried shame and haunting secrets amidst the fierce loyalty that follows—this is a cracking read to sink your teeth into. Buy now for £14.99.

The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson

Full of wit, warmth and unassuming intellect, the Prestwich native’s Booker Prize-winning 2010 novel is an intimate, contemplative and gently funny study on the nature of belonging, justice, love, ageing and humanity.

Set partly over the course of a single evening, two school friends – unremarkable BBC producer Julian Treslove and celebrated Jewish philosopher and television personality, Sam Finkler – and their former teacher gather for a bittersweet reunion dinner, during which they revisit a simpler time in their lives. Later that night, Treslove is attacked in the street, causing his entire sense of self to slowly and inexorably change. On sale now for £10.99.

Mancunians by David Scott

Through a fascinating blend of memoir and interviews with homegrown icons such as Guy Garvey, Tunde Babalola, Sylvia Tella, Badly Drawn Boy and acclaimed illustrator Stan Chow, Mancunians charts a profound social history of modern Manchester and the countercultural forces which saved it from spiritual ruin.

In the late 1990s, Manchester faced a harrowing identity crisis: the Hacienda had closed, the IRA bomb had jarred what was thought to be an unshakeable collective swagger, and bland musicians were polluting beloved venues with boilerplate riffs and focus-grouped bravado. Mancunians: Where do I start, where do we begin? follows the natives who railed against stereotype – ambitious artists, optimistic developers, musicians of colour and football fans disenchanted by insatiable commercialism – and hauled the nation’s cultural capital into the millennium with an even stronger identity. On sale now for £16.99.

Manchester Unspun by Andy Spinoza

Another intensely compelling alternative history of the city, Andy Spinoza’s Manchester Unspun recounts the gradual yet dauntless growth of a modern global metropolis, from a point at which it seemed almost condemned to cultural and structural dereliction. Beginning in the 1970s with Manchester still coated in the residue of war, Spinoza follows the region’s emergence from post-industrial malaise, through the Thatcher years and into the new century as a hub of music, fashion and culture, forged in the crucible of the Hacienda nightclub.

From the redbrick gloom to the sparkling towers, Manchester Unspun is ‘an insider’s tale of deals done, government and corporate decision-making, nightclubs, music and entrepreneurs’. On sale now for £20.

Once Upon a Time in Naples by John Ludden

John Ludden delves into the fascinating, at times infamous, most times spectacular career of Diego Maradona during his golden Napoli years. Few footballing careers come coated in such folklore as the diminutive Argentine, and Ludden does a spectacular job of exploring the life of a maverick both on and off the field.

Fri 24 Mar
Rhiannon Ingle
Published on:
Tue 21 Nov 2023