More from Books

Pied Piper of Bougainville

We won’t know the Man Booker Prize longlist until 7 August, but Mister Pip had better be on it. It knocks the only New Zealand winner so far, the notorious Bone People, for six. It mightn’t win, because it falls to bits in the last 20 pages, but up to then it joins a fresh

Into the Norwegian wood

Here is a remarkable novel, one which appears to be about nothing in particular, featuring barely half a dozen characters, several of whom have no names. Hardly anything happens. A boy dies, a man gets shot, another boy is given a new suit, and that, more or less, is that. There is a good deal

When Edwina met Nehru

This book falls into two parts. The first is a brisk account of Britain’s involvement with India and of the backgrounds of those people who were principally responsible for unscrambling that relationship. It contains most of the facts that matter, if rather too much social trivia that does not, and is generally fair. Where it

Tales of the Yangzi

In Grand Canal, Great River we enter a world that makes the moon seem familiar. It is also one of the most beautiful books I’ve handled and is a screaming bargain. Philip Watson read Chinese at Oxford and spent most of his working life in the Foreign Office, with postings in Hong Kong and Beijing.

No more school

When, ten years ago, you bought for Jack or Chloe a jolly-sounding novel about a schoolboy getting up to all sorts of pranks at an academy for wizards, I don’t suppose you could have predicted the tone of the seventh and last book in the series. It is apocalyptic, redemptive, Wagnerian and quite extraordinarily keen

The unromantic approach

John Worthen, a D.H. Lawrence specialist, approaches Robert Schumann’s tormented life without any apparent musical or medical expertise. His aim is ambitious: to prove that Schumann was not the quintessential Romantic figure of folklore and that he died of tertiary syphilis. He attempts to argue that Schumann was not manic-depressive, schizophrenic, unbalanced or even unstable.