Paul Binding rss

A derelict building in Jaffna – part of the legacy of Sri Lanka's years of civil war. Photograph: Luis Ascui/Getty Images

Tip-toeing through Sri Lanka

26 July 2014
Noontide Toll Romesh Gunesekera

Granta, pp.256, £12.99, ISBN: 9781620970201

‘The first night I stayed in Kilinochchi, I was a little apprehensive,’ admits the usually cool-headed Vasantha, van-driver and narrator of all the stories in Noontide Toll. Kilinochchi was the… Read more


The making of a novelist

22 March 2014
Boyhood Island Karl Ove Knausgaard, translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett

Harvill Secker, pp.389, £12.99, ISBN: 9781846557224

Karl Ove Knausgaard was eight months old when his family moved to the island of Tromøya; he left it aged 13, because of his father’s higher-grade teaching appointment on the… Read more

Francis King   Photo: Denis Jones/Evening Standard /REX

From frankness to obsession - the novels of Francis King

1 March 2014

Gide wrote to Simenon: ‘You are living on a false reputation — just like Baudelaire and Chopin. … You are much more important than is commonly supposed.’ Something of the… Read more

The Child’s Child, by Barbara Vine – review

16 March 2013
The Child’s Child Barbara Vine

Viking, pp.279, £18.99, ISBN: 9780670922208

‘I always know when a novel is going to be a Barbara Vine one,’ Ruth Rendell said to me in 1998. ‘In fact I believe that if I weren’t to… Read more

A snake in the grass

15 September 2012
Alone in the Classroom Elizabeth Hay

pp.272, £18.99, ISBN: 9780857051257

‘He walked straight past the wolf and picked up the dead garter snake.’ This is the exemplary sentence that young teacher Connie writes out for a good-looking, baseball-loving pupil three… Read more

Doctor in distress

26 May 2012
The Gold-rimmed Spectacles by Giorgio Bassani, translated from the Italian by Jamie McKendrick

Penguin Modern Classics, pp.137, 9.99

It is winter 1936. Every weekday morning a group of young people travel by train from Ferrara, their home city, to Bologna where they are studying at the university. Theirs… Read more

Abiding inspiration

17 March 2012
Why Trilling Matters Adam Kirsch

Yale, pp.188, 20

In 1971 looking back over his life, Lionel Trilling (1905-1975) declared himself surprised at being referred to as a critic. Certainly his plan when young had been the pursuit of… Read more


The father of songs

20 August 2011
Orpheus Anne Wroe

Cape, pp.262, 17.99

‘The two great gifts of the Greeks to humanity, said the poet Hölderlin, were Orpheus-Love and Homer-Song.’ ‘The two great gifts of the Greeks to humanity, said the poet Hölderlin,… Read more


. . . or sensing impending doom

23 April 2011
On Tangled Paths Theodor Fontane, translated from the German by Peter James Bowman

Angel Books, pp.192, 9.95

No Way Back by Theodor Fontane, translated from the German by Hugh Rorrison and Helen Chambers

Angel Books, pp.256, 11.75

‘What am I? A completely ordinary person from the so-called higher reaches of society. ‘What am I? A completely ordinary person from the so-called higher reaches of society. And what… Read more

Terrors of the imagination

8 October 2008
The Beacon Susan Hill

Chatto, pp.154, 10

Of the four Prime siblings of the Beacon farm, Frank, the second boy, was, throughout their early lives, ‘almost invisible’. He did everything late, spent most of his time alone,… Read more

The importance of being Henrik

6 December 2006
Henrik Ibsen and the Birth of Modernism Toril Moi

OUP, pp.396, 25

The celebrations and theatre- productions for this centenary year of Ibsen’s death certainly attest to the continuing vitality of his work. At August’s Ibsen conference in Oslo I heard delegates… Read more

A member of the awkward squad

9 August 2006
A Special Providence Richard Yates

Methuen, pp.304, 7.99

On an autumn Saturday in 1944 Private Robert Prentice, an 18-year-old rifleman trainee, makes a long journey from his camp in Virginia to New York City, to see his mother.… Read more

Small is beautiful

12 November 2005
The Norwegian Feeling for Real edited by Harald Bache-Wiig

Harvill, pp.269, 16.99

The British, publishers and booksellers regularly tell us, have an antipathy to the short story; they respond unfavourably to even a well-known writer coming up with a collection, and for… Read more

Singing for your supper

21 September 2002

4th Estate, pp.184, 12.99

On 23 February l937 a small boy of seven arrives at Victoria station, London. Here he is met, as arranged, by his uncle, a man he has never seen before… Read more