Book review – fiction

Sam Lipsyte. Credit: Ceridwen Morris

Hitting the bullseye: Hark, by Sam Lipsyte, reviewed

16 February 2019 9:00 am

This is an ebullient, irreverent and deeply serious novel in the noble tradition of Mark Twain, Sinclair Lewis (especially Babbitt…

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Fun at the EU’s expense: The Capital, by Robert Menasse, reviewed

16 February 2019 9:00 am

Stendhal likened politics in literature to a pistol-shot in a concert: crude, but compelling. When that politics largely consists of…

Kristen Roupenian Credit: Urszula Soltys

Kristen Roupenian’s debut short stories fulfil all expectations

9 February 2019 9:00 am

Kristen Roupenian’s debut collection, You Know You Want This (Cape, £12.99), comes hotly anticipated. Her short story, ‘Cat Person’, went…

Credit: Ian Hill

The Australian James Joyce: the novels of Gerald Murnane reviewed

2 February 2019 9:00 am

Gerald Murnane is the kind of writer literary critics adore. His novels have little in the way of plot or…

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Where would we be without crime’s heavies? Muscle, by Alan Trotter, reviewed

2 February 2019 9:00 am

Let’s hear it for the heavies, the unsung heroes of noir crime fiction on page and screen. The genre would…

Jeeves and Bertie Wooster by Roger Payne. [Bridgeman Images}

Bertie takes on the Black Shorts: Jeeves and the King of Clubs, by Ben Schott, reviewed

1 December 2018 9:00 am

In 2016, inspired by reports that Donald Trump’s butler had recommended the assassination of Barack Obama, Ben Schott wrote a…

Uwe Johnson at his desk [Getty]

Uwe Johnson’s Anniversaries is an astonishing achievement

24 November 2018 9:00 am

The most striking and difficult aspect of this novel is its incredible scale. How can a reviewer best discuss an…

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Heredity is only half the story

27 October 2018 9:00 am

The Romans invoked Fortuna, the goddess of luck, to explain the unexplainable; fortune-tellers study tea leaves to predict the unpredictable.…

Car On Country Road, Dartmoor, UK

The road trip from hell: A Station on the Path to Somewhere Better, by Benjamin Wood, reviewed

27 October 2018 9:00 am

A lingeringly strange atmosphere hangs about Benjamin Wood’s third novel, in which the settings and paraphernalia of a new wave…

Sally Rooney. Credit: Jonny L. Davies

A friendship in flux: Normal People, by Sally Rooney, reviewed

15 September 2018 9:00 am

‘Marianne had the sense that her real life was happening somewhere very far away, happening without her, and she didn’t…

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Deep in the forest’s mysteries: The Cloven, by Brian Catling, reviewed

15 September 2018 9:00 am

Brian Catling’s great trilogy takes its title from The Vorrh, his first volume. This final book fulfills all the promises…

The burden of freedom: Washington Black, by Esi Edugyan, reviewed

15 September 2018 9:00 am

It’s 1830, and among the sugar cane of Faith Plantation in Barbados, suicide seems like the only way out. Decapitations…

Sebastian Faulks (Rex Features)

Hoping to find happiness: Paris Echo, by Sebastian Faulks, reviewed

8 September 2018 9:00 am

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a serious novel must be in want of a theme. Paris Echo soon…

Christopher Priest (Getty Images)

All things lead to 9/11: An American Story, by Christopher Priest, reviewed

8 September 2018 9:00 am

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11 many writers spoke of feeling immobilised. The scale of the attacks and the world’s…

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A paean to lesbian love: Aftershocks, by A.N. Wilson, reviewed

8 September 2018 9:00 am

The polymath writer A.N.Wilson returns to the novel in Aftershocks, working on the template of the 2011 earthquake which devastated…

Caught between fascism and witchcraft: All Among the Barley, by Melissa Harrison, reviewed

25 August 2018 9:00 am

All Among the Barley, Melissa Harrison’s third ‘nature novel’, centres on Wych Farm in the autumn of 1933, where the…

Too much American angst: the latest short stories reviewed

25 August 2018 9:00 am

In ‘A Prize for Every Player’ — one of 12 stories in Days of Awe, a new collection by A.M.…

The plight of the returnee: A Terrible Country, by Keith Gessen, reviewed

18 August 2018 9:00 am

If the 20th century popularised the figure of the émigré, the 21st has introduced that of the returnee, who, aided…

Unlucky in love: Caroline’s Bikini, by Kirsty Gunn, reviewed

18 August 2018 9:00 am

‘The most interesting novels are a bit strange,’ Kirsty Gunn once told readers of the London Review of Books. ‘They…

From the Iliad to the IRA: Country, by Michael Hughes, reviewed

18 August 2018 9:00 am

Recently there has been a spate of retellings of the Iliad, to name just Pat Barker’s The Silence of the…

The horror of post-Brexit Britain: Perfidious Albion, by Sam Byers, reviewed

4 August 2018 9:00 am

Edmundsbury, the fictional, sketchily rendered town in which the action of this novel takes place, is part of a social…

Shades of Rear Window: People in the Room, by Norah Lange, reviewed

4 August 2018 9:00 am

A girl at a window, hidden behind curtains, watches three women in a dimly lit drawing room in the house…

A suffragette sequel: Old Baggage, by Lissa Evans reviewed

28 July 2018 9:00 am

Lissa Evans has had a good idea for her new novel. It’s ‘suffragettes: the sequel’. She sets her story not…

Born again: My Year of Rest and Relaxation, by Ottessa Moshfegh, reviewed

28 July 2018 9:00 am

The new novel by the author of the 2016 Booker shortlisted Eileen is at once a jumble of influences —…

Shades of the Mitfords: After the Party, by Cressida Connolly, reviewed

28 July 2018 9:00 am

At the beginning of After the Party, Phyllis Forrester tells us she was in prison. While inside, her hair turned…