Book review – fiction

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…

The latest short stories have a bleak take on romance

22 July 2017 9:00 am

It can’t be easy to switch between editing others people’s fiction and writing your own: how do you suspend that…

Simon Okotie’s new novel takes whimsical digression to extremes

1 July 2017 9:00 am

The practical difficulties of extracting keys from the pockets of tight-fitting trousers while ascending stairs; the logistical hazards of seducing…

Elif Batuman’s heroine feels ill-prepared for life

1 July 2017 9:00 am

It has taken much of a celebrated literary life for Elif Batuman to produce a novel. At the beginning of…

Adam Thorpe’s gone girl novel looks like a prizewinner

24 June 2017 9:00 am

Adam Thorpe’s latest novel, Missing Fay, examines the lives of a disparate group of people in Lincolnshire, all touched in…

More grimy tragedy from Joyce Carol Oates

24 June 2017 9:00 am

Early one summer’s morning in 1994, Paul Jennings Hill, a defrocked Presbyterian minister, gunned down a doctor, John Britton, as…

The bleak business of adoption tourism

24 June 2017 9:00 am

In many ways this is a very old-fashioned novel. Jerome is 53, and a lacklustre professor at Columbia; his wife,…

How can we adapt to a world that’s always on the move?

17 June 2017 9:00 am

Olga Tokarczuk examines questions of travel in our increasingly interconnected and fast-moving world. The award-winning Polish writer channels her wanderlust…

Those we despise most are the ones we have wronged

17 June 2017 9:00 am

There’s a moment in A Boy in Winter where a young Ukrainian policeman has to escort his town’s Jewish population…

Thomas Keneally: writing the wrongs of the Catholic church

10 June 2017 9:00 am

This may seem an odd thing to say about a writer who’s been officially declared a National Living Treasure in…

The ancient Greeks are back with a vengeance

3 June 2017 9:00 am

Beyond the patricide and even the incest, the horror of the Oedipus myth lies in its insistence that our fates…