Book review – fiction

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…

A cold archaeological gaze: In the Garden of the Fugitives, by Ceridwen Dovey, reviewed

28 July 2018 9:00 am

Visiting Pompeii, it is hard to miss the garden of the fugitives. It is on every other postcard in the…

Foreign bodies galore: the best new crime fiction

30 June 2018 9:00 am

Ghosts of the Past by Marco Vichi (Hodder, £18.99) is unashamedly nostalgic in tone. The title could not be more…

Crudo, by Olivia Laing, reviewed

30 June 2018 9:00 am

Olivia Laing has been deservedly lauded for her thoughtful works of non-fiction To the River, The Trip to Echo Spring…

An agent from the Freedman’s Bureau separates freed slaves from an angry mob at the end of the American civil war. Credit Getty Images

A Shout in the Ruins, by Kevin Powers, reviewed

23 June 2018 9:00 am

We’re in Virginia, in the 1850s. A girl called Emily is tormenting her dog, Champion, and her father’s teenage slave,…

A rare photograph by Bernice Abbott of Lucia Joyce dancing in the 1920s

Lucia, by Alex Pheby, reviewed

23 June 2018 9:00 am

In 1988, James Joyce’s grandson Stephen destroyed all letters he had from, to or about his aunt Lucia Joyce, the…

Rachel Kushner

The Mars Room, by Rachel Kushner reviewed

2 June 2018 9:00 am

Asked how he achieves the distinctive realism for which his novels and screenplays are famous, Richard Price, that sharp chronicler…

Meg Wolitzer. (Rex Features)

The Female Persuasion, by Meg Wolitzer reviewed

2 June 2018 9:00 am

It’s because it’s the land of the loner that the United States is so loved or loathed. Yet to me…

Sheila Heti

Motherhood, by Sheila Heti reviewed

2 June 2018 9:00 am

‘I don’t think this was something I ever felt’, Sheila Heti writes in Motherhood — ‘that my body, my life,…

Alison Moore

Missing, by Alison Moore reviewed

2 June 2018 9:00 am

Whereas in an unabashed thriller, in the TV series The Missing, for example, the object of the exercise is well…

Couldn’t Diana Evans’s fretful couples just shut up and deal with it?

5 May 2018 9:00 am

My husband started reading Diana Evans’s third novel, Ordinary People, the day after I’d finished it. Three days later, I…

The daring exploits of Romain Gary

28 April 2018 9:00 am

When Romain Gary, a courageous and much decorated pilot in the RAF’s Free French squadron, was presented to the Queen…

A single mother hits rock bottom in Tokyo: Territory of Light reviewed

28 April 2018 9:00 am

Before her death two years ago, Yuko Tsushima was a powerful voice in Japanese literature; a strong candidate for the…

Our sheltered lives have made us overly fearful: Aminatta Forna’s Happiness reviewed

21 April 2018 9:00 am

In her keynote lecture for a conference on ‘The Muse and the Market’ in 2015 Aminatta Forna mounted a powerful…

Six wintry days in Saratoga Springs: Upstate by James Wood reviewed

14 April 2018 9:00 am

Alan Querry, the central figure in James Wood’s second novel, is someone who, in his own words, doesn’t ‘think about…

The Spanish court’s fondness for dwarfs and dogs is captured by Velázquez

Spend, spend, spend at the court of Philip IV of Spain

7 April 2018 9:00 am

‘Nine hours,’ boasted my friend the curator about his trip to the Prado. Nine! Two hours is my upper limit…

How can we know what dead people want?

7 April 2018 9:00 am

In 1999, Patrick Hemingway published True at First Light, a new novel by his father Ernest. In his role as…

Alarm bells ring when I read about grown women and dolls

7 April 2018 9:00 am

Mona — single, childless, pushing 60 — sells wooden dolls made by a carpenter friend, which she delicately costumes from…