Book review – fiction

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…

Arundhati Roy’s new big cause: the conflict in Kashmir

3 June 2017 9:00 am

Arundhati Roy has published only one previous novel, but that one, The God of Small Things, won the Booker Prize.…

Colm Tóibín makes the most pitiless Greek myths seem poignant

27 May 2017 9:00 am

‘A shudder in the loins engenders there/ The broken wall, the burning roof and tower/ And Agamemnon dead’ intoned W.B.…

Extended family warfare in quiet, leafy Hampstead

20 May 2017 9:00 am

I like novelists who don’t try to do everything in their novels, but just to do something well. This is…

Teasing the French academy to death

13 May 2017 9:00 am

On 25 February 1980, Roland Barthes, the great French intellectual, was run over by a laundry van in Paris. He…

Two refugee lovers take on the world

13 May 2017 9:00 am

Every nation has the right to control its borders, but we in the West are getting a bit too comfortable…

Appointment with death

6 May 2017 9:00 am

It’s reassuring that of Ed Docx’s three admirably eclectic, though sometimes uneven, previous novels, Let Go My Hand most resembles…

Trailing a lost masterpiece through the alleys of Havana

6 May 2017 9:00 am

On 27 May 1939, the German liner St Louis docked in Havana with 937 passengers on board: all but a…

Why is turning 40 so traumatic for a single female New Yorker?

6 May 2017 9:00 am

In an early chapter of All Grown Up, the narrator Andrea says to her therapist: ‘Why is being single the…

Jon McGregor’s village life is part-Archers, part-Midsomer Murders

29 April 2017 9:00 am

Jon McGregor’s first novel, If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, a surprise inclusion on the 2002 Booker longlist that went…

The betrayer’s betrayed in Hanif Kureishi’s latest novel

29 April 2017 9:00 am

Perhaps the least necessary piece of advice ever given to a Hanif Kureishi protagonist comes in 2014’s The Last Word.…

‘Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze...’ The infamous lynchings in Marion, Indiana, inspired the song ‘Strange Fruit’ and Laird Hunt’s weird novel

A notorious lynching lies at the end of The Evening Road

29 April 2017 9:00 am

Southern trees bear a strange fruit in Laird Hunt’s seventh novel, a dark historical fiction filled with dreams and visions…