Holy smokes! A good novella is one that packs a punch with so few words it seems impossible; a great novella is the likes of Joan Smokes (Contraband 2019) by Angela Meyer, the winner of the inaugural Mslexia Novella Award.

Featuring themes of grief and loss, ambition, ‘settling’, relationships and poverty and social class, Joan Smokes captures the reinvention of a woman who has suffered tragedy and is determined to become someone else in Vegas. Let’s call her Joan. Joan wears red lipstick and a floral dress. Joan smokes. Joan carries secrets that even she cannot tell. A richly imagined story of pared back prose which has the ability to make something out of the everyday nothing minutia of life.