The Forgotten Children by David Hill (Allen & Unwin, £8.99)

Thousands of British children were sent to Australia between 1938 and 1974 by trusting, optimistic parents who relinquished guardianship of their kids in the hope that they’d have better lives Down Under. The scheme was intended to benefit the Empire: boys would be trained to be farmers, girls to become farmers’ wives. David Hill was one of many children sent to Fairbridge School in New South Wales. He was lucky in that he had two brothers for support and the prospect of their mother coming out to join them. He was also a high achiever, becoming chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Others were not so lucky. Hill’s research in previously unseen archives has brought out the misery that lay in store for migrant children. Fairbridge offered poor education, maggot-ridden food, frequent thrashings. Physical and sexual abuse was endemic, as were the lies told to both children and parents. Hill’s account overturns decades of cover-ups with compassion and righteous indignation.

Night Of Fire by Colin Thubron (Vintage, £8.99)

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Six tenants and their landlord live in a house that’s been subdivided into flats. Unfortunately for them, it’s a firetrap, and a blaze which began in the basement is about to consume them all. Travel writer’s Colin Thubron’s first novel for 14 years is split into six sections, each devoted to a single character as their immolation approaches. With flames engulfing the house, they look back on moments in their lives that have defined them: the priest remembers a formative period in the monastery on Mount Athos; the oldest tenant reflects on his schooldays; a neurosurgeon considers the brain and wonders whether his patients haven’t lost something of themselves through his treatment. Isolated from each other, they nevertheless seem to represent the mind of a single individual. Ambitious but accomplished, Night Of Fire is a meditation on memory, mortality and what makes us who we are. Thubron’s readiness to deal with profound questions is impressive and the novel leaves a lasting trace.

Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash by Eka Kurniawan (Pushkin Press, £12.99)

Acclaimed as one of Indonesia’s most important new writers for the magical realist novel Beauty Is A Wound, Eka Kurniawan embraces hard-boiled pulp fiction for his latest work, set amidst the criminal underworld of Java. Ajo Kawir relishes a scrap, and has learned how to be a tough fighter. But he turned to fighting originally to vent his frustrations over his impotence, from which he has suffered since witnessing a rape perpetrated by two policemen when he was 12. With his talent for violence in increasing demand, he has an epic bout with beautiful bodyguard Iteung and falls in love with her. But what can he offer Iteung, and how can he expect to hang on to her, if he can’t satisfy her sexually? For all that it’s quite deliberately gritty and trashy, this is written with literary flair, commenting on Indonesia’s history and sense of nationhood while delivering gangster thrills, including disturbing scenes of sexual violence.