Book review – fiction

Niall Griffiths. Credit: Toril Brancher

Something in the air: Broken Ghost, by Niall Griffiths, reviewed

31 August 2019 9:00 am

Broken Ghost begins in the aftermath of a rave on the shores of a mountain lake above Aberystwyth, with three…

Deborah Levy

A hazardous crossing: The Man Who Saw Everything, by Deborah Levy, reviewed

24 August 2019 9:00 am

Serious readers and serious writers have a contract with each other,’ Deborah Levy once wrote. ‘We live through the same…

Yukio Mishima posing in Tokyo in 1970. Credit: Getty Images

Capers in crime: Life for Sale, by Yukio Mishima, reviewed

3 August 2019 9:00 am

Few biographies are quite as impressive as Yukio Mishima’s. One of Japan’s most famous authors, he wrote 80 plays and…

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A picture of rural Kentucky: Stand by Me, by Wendell Berry, reviewed

3 August 2019 9:00 am

Anyone picking up a book by Wendell Berry, whether it be fiction, essays or a collection of his lucid and…

Not far fom the Dozier School, a small cemetery with 31 metal crosses is thought to contain further unmarked graves of children murdered by the staff

America’s brutal borstals: The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead, reviewed

27 July 2019 9:00 am

Based on a notorious reform school in Florida whose staff tortured and even murdered the adolescents in their care, The Nickel Boys is heartbreakingly good, says Philip Hensher

Nicola Barker

Fun and games: I Am Sovereign, by Nicola Barker, reviewed

27 July 2019 9:00 am

In 2017’s Goldsmiths Prize-winning novel H(A)PPY, Nicola Barker strewed pages with multicoloured text. The Cauliflower, her joyful previous offering, employed…

Deborah Moggach. Credit: Getty Images

Angel or demon? The Carer, by Deborah Moggach, reviewed

27 July 2019 9:00 am

You might think The Carer rather an unpromising title, but Deborah Moggach’s book delivers a wickedly witty entertainment. Towards the…

An inflatable boat with 47 migrants is rescued off Libya’s coast in January 2019. Credit: Getty Images

Desperate souls: Travellers, by Helon Habila, reviewed

29 June 2019 9:00 am

Death by water haunts the stories of Africans in Europe that flow through this fourth novel by Helon Habila. From…

Niven Govinden. Credit: Dan Lepard

A drag army in waiting: This Brutal House, by Niven Govinden, reviewed

29 June 2019 9:00 am

Niven Govinden’s This Brutal House is set in the demi-monde of the New York vogue ball. This is an organised,…

Boer refugees were herded by the British into cattle trucks to be shunted into concentration camps at Bloemfontein in 1901. Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

Brutish Brits: You Will Be Safe Here, by Damian Barr, reviewed

25 May 2019 9:00 am

Damian Barr explains the upsetting genesis of his impressive debut novel, You Will Be Safe Here, in his acknowledgements: This…

Murder in the basement: The Language of Birds, by Jill Dawson, reviewed

20 April 2019 9:00 am

Jill Dawson has a taste for murder. One of her earlier novels, the Orange shortlisted Fred and Edie, fictionalised the…

Writing as revenge: Memories of the Future, by Siri Hustvedt, reviewed

23 March 2019 9:00 am

Why are people interested in their past? One possible reason is that you can interact with it, recruiting it as…

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…