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Fiction

Mr Loverman, by Bernardine Evaristo - review

14 September 2013
Mr Loverman Bernadine Evaristo

Hamish Hamilton, pp.307, £8.99, ISBN: 9780241145784

In 1998, the Jamaican singer Bounty Killer released a single, ‘Can’t Believe Mi Eyes’, which expressed incredulity that men should wear tight trousers, because tight trousers are an effeminate display… Read more

Almost English, by Charlotte Mendelson - review

7 September 2013
Almost English Charlotte Mendelson

Mantle, pp.390, £16.99, ISBN: 9781447219972

Novels about growing up have two great themes: loss of innocence and the forging of identity. With this sparky, sharp-eyed and  often painfully funny novel, her fourth,  Charlotte Mendelson (winner… Read more

TO GO WITH STORY BY M.J. SMITHA family

419 by Will Ferguson - review

7 September 2013
419 Will Ferguson

Head of Zeus, pp.419, £16.99 ebook £9.99, ISBN: 9781781855065

The term ‘419’ is drawn from the article in the Nigerian penal code that addresses fraud. However, it has transcended its origins in statute and become shorthand for trickery across… Read more

Lion Heart by Justin Cartwright - review

31 August 2013
Lion Heart Justin Cartwright

Bloombury, pp.330, £18.99, ISBN: 9781408839799

Justin Cartwright is famously a fan of John Updike — and here he seems to owe a definite debt to one of his hero’s lesser known novels. In Memories of… Read more

The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer - review

31 August 2013
The Interestings Meg Wolitzer

Chatto, pp.480, £16.99, ISBN: 9780701188276

Thick, sentimental and with a narrative bestriding four decades, Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings feels above all like a Victorian novel, one which finds itself as comfortable in our time as… Read more

Canal boat

Chaplin & Company, by Mave Fellowes - review

31 August 2013

The unlikely heroine of Mave Fellowes’s Chaplin & Company (Cape, £16.99) is a highly-strung, posh-speaking, buttoned-up 18-year-old with the unhelpful name Odeline Milk. Utterly friendless, she dislikes both humans and… Read more

This Town, by Mark Leibovich - review

24 August 2013
This Town Mark Leibovich

Penguin, pp.400, £17.99, ISBN: 9780399161308

Many books have been written about the corruption, venality and incestuousness that characterise Washington DC, but none has been as highly anticipated or amusing as This Town. Written by Mark… Read more

Red or Dead by David Peace - review

24 August 2013
Red or Dead David Peace

Faber, pp.720, £20, ISBN: 9780571280650

The last time David Peace wrote a novel about football he got his publishers sued for libel, which may help explain why his new one avoids invention wherever it can… Read more

The Son, by Philipp Meyer - review

3 August 2013
The Son Philipp Meyer

Simon & Schuster, pp.561, £18.99, ISBN: 9780857209429

Colonel Eli McCullough, formerly known as Tiehteti, is a living legend. The first male child born in the Republic of Texas, wrested from Mexico in 1836, Eli has miraculously reached… Read more

Shire, by Ali Smith - review

3 August 2013
Shire Ali Smith

Full Circle Editions, pp.128, £18, ISBN: 9780957152823

Pastoral elegy is not what you expect to find in a collection of short stories, but then Ali Smith is a wonderfully unexpected writer. In the first story, ‘The Beholder’,… Read more

Wreaking, by James Scudamore - review

27 July 2013
Wreaking James Scudamore

Harvill Secker, pp.389, £14.99, ISBN: 9780091933791

An abandoned lunatic asylum, a nasty pornographer in a wheelchair, a bizarre glass-ceilinged viewing dome beneath a scummy lake, a vast henchman, a mother who hears angels telling her she… Read more

The Breath of Night, by Michael Arditti

27 July 2013
The Breath of Night Michael Arditti

Arcadia Books, pp.300, £11.99, ISBN: 9780957330450

There is always meat in Michael Arditti’s novels. He is a writer who presents moral problems via fiction but is subtle and shrewd enough to know that ‘issue books’, which… Read more

Film-star looks: ‘The heroines in all Barbara Comyns’s novels 
are obviously wildly attractive — though she never says so’

Jane Gardam on Barbara Comyns - essay

6 July 2013

The Vet’s Daughter is Barbara Comyns’s fourth and most startling novel. Written in 1959 when she was 50 it is the first in which she shows mastery of the structures… Read more

The Spinning Heart, by Donal Ryan - review

29 June 2013
The Spinning Heart Donal Ryan

Doubleday Ireland, pp.159, £12.99, ISBN: 9781781620069

Despite being so short, The Spinning Heart certainly can’t be accused of lacking ambition. Over the course of its 150-odd pages, Donal Ryan’s first novel introduces us to no fewer… Read more

The Flamethrowers, by Rachel Kushner - review

29 June 2013
The Flamethrowers Rachel Kushner

Harvill, pp.400, £16.99, ISBN: 9781846557910

This bright, burning flame of a novel takes place in the art world of 1970s New York. Our guide to this scene of glittering parties and eccentric characters — such… Read more

Vauxhall, by Gabriel Ghadomosi; Sketcher, by Roland Watson-Grant - review

29 June 2013
Vauxhall Gabriel Gbadamosi

Telegram, pp.320, £12.99, ISBN: 9781846591464

Sketcher Roland Watson-Grant

Alma Books, pp.279, £12.99, ISBN: 9781846882425

At the grubbier end of my street in north London is the Somali mosque that was burned down earlier this month in an arson attack. The other day I asked… Read more

An Englishman in Madrid, by Eduardo Mendoza - review

29 June 2013
An Englishman in Madrid Eduardo Mendoza

MacLehose Press, pp.379, £16.99, ISBN: 9780857051899

To Spaniards, the English must appear a highly contradictory people. The stereotype of the restrained, well-dressed gentleman (Spain’s largest department store is El Corte Inglés, ‘the English cut’) must contend… Read more

The Professor of Poetry, by Grace McCleen - review

29 June 2013
The Professor of Poetry Grace McCleen

Sceptre, pp.304, £14.99, ISBN: 9781444769951

Elizabeth Stone, English professor at UCL,  has long lived on ‘paper and words and thin air’. Single, friendless, dessicated, respected, she passes out during a faculty meeting and wakes to… Read more

Constance, by Patrick McGrath - review

22 June 2013
Constance Patrick McGrath

Blooomsbury Circus,, pp.256, £12.99, ISBN: 9781408821138

Patrimony and infidelity are defining themes of the Anglo-American relationship, as they are of Constance, a novel with alternating narrators: Sidney Klein is English, in his forties, and an authority… Read more

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Bedford Park, by Bryan Appleyard - review

15 June 2013
Bedford Park Bryan Appleyard

Weidenfeld ebook, pp.320, £3.99

Nothing in Bryan Appleyard’s Bedford Park betrays the fact that it is his first period novel: not its deft characterisations, its virtuoso dialogue, its dry and economical wit, or its… Read more

The Dark Road, by Ma Jian - review

1 June 2013
The Dark Road Ma Jian, translated by Flora Drew

Chatto, pp.260, £16.99, ISBN: 9780701187538

If you are considering adopting — that is, buying — a Chinese baby girl, recycling a television or computer, or buying a Vuiton bag, think again. Ma Jian, author of… Read more

Whirligig, by Magnus Mcintyre - review

1 June 2013
Whirligig Magnus Mcintyre

Short Books, pp.288, £7.99, ISBN: 9781780721279

I do not have much time for the idea of the redemptive power of the countryside. I am not alone in this. Even theologians tend to dream of the day… Read more

Last Friends, by Jane Gardam - review

1 June 2013
Last Friends Jane Gardam

Little Brown, pp.213, £16.99, ISBN: 9781609450939

Any writer who embarks on a trilogy is either extremely confident or taking something of a risk. The danger is that the reader will have forgotten the first two volumes… Read more

They really were in love: Scott, Zelda and their daughter Frances (‘Scottie’) in Paris

Z, by Therese Anne Fowler, Beautiful Fools, by R. Clifton Spargo, Careless People, by Sarah Churchill - review

1 June 2013
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald Therese Anne Fowler

Two Roads, pp.376, £17.99, ISBN: 9781444761405

Beautiful Fools: The Last Affair of Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald R. Clifton Spargo

Duckworth, pp.366, £16.99, ISBN: 9780715645437

Careless People: Murder, Mayhem and the Invention of the Great Gatsby Sarah Churchwell

Virago, pp.438, £16.99, ISBN: 9781844087662

The Great Gatsby is one of those great works of literature, like Pride and Prejudice, that appeals as much to the general reader as to the literary bod. It’ll always… Read more

All the Birds, Singing, by Evie Wyld - review

25 May 2013
All the Birds, Singing Evie Wyld

Cape, pp.229, £16.99, ISBN: 9780224096683

Half in jest, Evie Wyld has described her highly garlanded first book After the Fire, a Still Small Voice as ‘a romantic thriller about men not talking’. The same description… Read more