What a coincidence

12 October 2013
Three Brothers Peter Ackroyd

Chatto, pp.240, £14.99, ISBN: 9780701186937

If you are going to read a novel that plays with literary conventions you want it written with aplomb. In Three Brothers we are not disappointed, as Peter Ackroyd shows… Read more

Colonel Georges Picquart

An Officer and a Gentleman, by Robert Harris - review

5 October 2013
An Officer and a Spy Robert Harris

Hutchinson, pp.496, £18.99, ISBN: 9780091944551

The Dreyfus Affair, the furore caused by a miscarriage of justice in France in 1894, is a source of perennial interest. It raises questions of national identity, political morality and… Read more

Stephen King isn't as scary as he used to be, but 'Doctor Sleep' is still a cracker

5 October 2013
Doctor Sleep Stephen King

Hodder, pp.485, £19.99, ISBN: 9781476727653

Though alcohol withdrawal is potentially fatal, booze has none of the media-confected glitz of heroin (imagine Will Self boasting of a Baileys Bristol Cream addiction). The 17th-century word for the… Read more

Monsieur le Commandant, by Romain Slocombe - review

28 September 2013
Monsieur le Commandant: A Wartime Confession Romain Slocombe

Gallic Books, pp.208, £8.99, ISBN: 9781908313508

There can be few characters in modern fiction more unpleasant than Paul-Jean Husson, the narrator in Romain Slocombe’s Monsieur le Commandant. Indeed, he is at times too nasty. If this… Read more

One Night in Winter, by Simon Sebag Montefiore - review

28 September 2013
One Night in Winter Simon Sebag Montefiore

Random House, pp.480, £16.99, ISBN: 9781780891088

Simon Sebag Montefiore’s One Night in Winter begins in the hours immediately following the solemn victory parade that marked the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany — probably the high… Read more

Expo 58, by Jonathan Coe - review

21 September 2013
Expo 58 Jonathan Coe

Viking, pp.263, £16.99, ISBN: 9780670923724

In 1958 a vast international trade fair was held just outside Brussels. As well as being a showcase for industry, Expo 58 gave each country the chance to present something… Read more

The Windsor Faction, by D.J. Taylor - review

14 September 2013
The Windsor Faction D.J. Taylor

Chatto and Windus, pp.373, £14,99, ISBN: 9780701187873

In both his novels and non-fiction, D. J. Taylor has long been fascinated by the period between the wars. Now in The Windsor Faction, he brings us a counterfactual version.… Read more

Multiples, edited by Adam Thirlwell - review

14 September 2013
Multiples Adam Thirlwell

Portobello Books, pp.380, £20, ISBN: 9781846275371

There is a hoary Cold War joke about a newly invented translating machine. On a test run, the CIA scientists feed in ‘The spirit is willing, but the flesh is… Read more

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


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