Book review – fiction

Susie Boyt neatly skewers the self-help trends

18 November 2017 9:00 am

Grief is not being able to eat a small boiled egg. ‘Could you face an egg?’ the widowed Jean asks…

More menace - and magic - on the moors

18 November 2017 9:00 am

Andrew Michael Hurley’s The Loney was one of the surprise stand-outs of last year, and a worthy winner of the…

The enigma of Enric Marco

11 November 2017 9:00 am

Enric Marco has had a remarkable life. A prominent Catalan union activist, a brave resistance fighter in the Spanish Civil…

More secrets, symbols and awesome truths from Dan Brown

28 October 2017 9:00 am

Being reflexively snotty about Dan Brown’s writing is like slagging off Donald Trump’s spelling: it just entrenches everyone’s position. In…

Growing up with the Little Nursing Sisters

28 October 2017 9:00 am

Suffering, wrote Auden, takes place ‘while someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along’. His…

The Telemachuses: even quirkier than the Addams family

21 October 2017 9:00 am

This delightfully good-humoured novel is the sort of genre scramble that doesn’t often work: there’s a bit of 1990s family…

The one almighty problem with Philip Pullman’s storytelling

21 October 2017 9:00 am

Philip Pullman’s new k, the prequel to his Northern Lights series — the one north Oxford academics very much prefer…

Outcasts, émigrés and refugees crowd the latest debut novels

21 October 2017 9:00 am

Black Rock White City (Melville House, £16.99) is ostensibly about a spate of sinister graffiti in a Melbourne hospital. ‘The…

Is there any such thing as a truly frightening ghost story?

21 October 2017 9:00 am

How do you like your ghosts? Supernatural fiction is arguably the hardest to get right. Ideally it should terrify, but…

Could John Banville please go back to being himself?

7 October 2017 9:00 am

Did I enjoy this novel? Yes! Nevertheless, it dismayed me. How could John Banville, whom I’ve admired so much ever…

Love and tragedy in Orhan Pamuk’s Oepidean tale

2 September 2017 9:00 am

The Red-haired Woman is shorter than Orhan Pamuk’s best-known novels, and is, in comparison, pared down, written with deliberate simplicity…

Nights of the living dead in London’s bomb-damaged theatreland

2 September 2017 9:00 am

Patrick McGrath is a master of novels about post-traumatic fragmentation and dissolution, set amid gothic gloom. His childhood years spent…

Journeys to Israel and self-realisation: Forest Dark reviewed

2 September 2017 9:00 am

‘I frankly hate Descartes,’ states a character in Nicole Krauss’s new novel, Forest Dark: ‘The more he talks about following…

Modern terrorism and ancient Greek tragedy: Isis meets Antigone

2 September 2017 9:00 am

If someone was to lob the name Antigone about, many of us would smile and nod while trying to remember…

Nelson Mandela meets Mrs Dalloway in Johannesburg

19 August 2017 9:00 am

Martin Amis once said that the writer’s life is half ambition and half anxiety. While one part of your brain…

Bernard MacLaverty’s Midwinter Break is practically perfect in every way

19 August 2017 9:00 am

He’s not what you’d call prolific, Bernard MacLaverty. Midwinter Break is his fifth novel in 40 years, and his first…

What makes a man walk out on his life?

19 August 2017 9:00 am

Walking out of one’s own life — unpredictably, perhaps even without premeditation and certainly without anything approaching a plan —…

Read Nicola Barker’s H(A)PPY to the guitar music of Agustin Barrios

5 August 2017 9:00 am

It is an unexpected pleasure when fiction has a soundtrack to accompany the work of reviewing. H(A)PPY is ‘best enjoyed…

Elizabeth Day’s veiled satire of the Chipping Norton set is a delight

5 August 2017 9:00 am

Arriving at boarding school with the wrong shoes and a teddy bear in his suitcase, the hero of Elizabeth Day’s…

Tales of three cities

5 August 2017 9:00 am

Remember Douglas Coupland? Remember Tama Janowitz? Remember Lisa St Aubin de Terán? Banana Yoshimoto? Françoise Sagan? The voice of your…

Claudio Magris’s Blameless is seriously unreadable

5 August 2017 9:00 am

The first thing to say about Claudio Magris’s new novel is that it is, in an important sense, unreadable. There…

Virginie Despentes attempts a fresco of modern French society

29 July 2017 9:00 am

Virginie Despentes remains best known in this country for her 1993 debut novel, Baise-Moi, about two abused young women who…

The Swinging Sixties meet Henry James in Anthony Quinn’s saucy Eureka

29 July 2017 9:00 am

In Eureka, Anthony Quinn gives us all the enjoyable froth we could hope for in a novel about making a…

Stalin’s sickbed is a strangely enjoyable scenario

22 July 2017 9:00 am

Christopher Wilson’s new novel is much easier to enjoy than to categorise. And ‘enjoy’ is definitely the right word, even…

Hints of The Shining in Daniel Kehlmann’s haunting novella

22 July 2017 9:00 am

A screenwriter sits in a lovely rented house somewhere up an Alp in early December. The air is clear, the…