Book review – fiction

Hari Kunzru’s White Tears feels like a racial revenge fantasia

1 April 2017 9:00 am

The title might be taken as a provocation. In the compressed language of digital media, white tears, like first-world problems…

Susan Hill

Is Susan Hill trespassing on Anita Brookner territory?

25 March 2017 9:00 am

Alone with her father’s dead body, Olive Piper says, ‘I don’t know anything, except what I feel, and how can…

Sana Krasikov

Is The Patriots the 21st century’s Doctor Zhivago?

25 March 2017 9:00 am

Trailing rave US reviews, fan letters from Yann Martel and Khaled Hosseini and a reputation as ‘Doctor Zhivago for the…

The best sort of magic realism — from Michael Fishwick

25 March 2017 9:00 am

Michael Fishwick’s new novel tells the story of a young man called Robbie, who has been uprooted from his London…

A story of three bears — and what it means to be human

25 March 2017 9:00 am

In Yoko Tawada’s surreal and beguiling novel we meet three bears: mother, daughter and grandson. But there will be no…

Has Dorthe Nors’s heroine reached a dead end?

25 March 2017 9:00 am

It’s fair to say Sonja Hansen’s life has stalled. Forties, tall and ungainly, veteran of failed relationships, she’s an uncomfortable…

Forbidden love and the beautiful game

18 March 2017 9:00 am

Nowadays, most of us living in the liberal West agree that there can never be anything morally wrong with love…

Abraham Lincoln is plagued by ghosts of the past

11 March 2017 9:00 am

On 5 February 1862, the night Abraham Lincoln and his wife gave a lavish reception in the White House, with…

Samanta Schweblin’s Fever Dream is unforgettable

4 March 2017 9:00 am

In Delmore Schwartz’s story ‘In Dreams Begin Responsibilities’, a young man dreams he is watching his father and mother’s engagement…

Thick as thieves in Georgian London

25 February 2017 9:00 am

‘To get a confession from a proud male factor, it is always better to call for a poet than a…

George Mackay Brown appears part-inspiration forAnnalena McAfee’s fictional poet Grigor McWatt

It’s a long slog Hame with Annalena McAfee

25 February 2017 9:00 am

Alex Salmond, former first minister of Scotland, once claimed that he could always tell Scottish fiction from English. Novels, he…

China Mieville’s counterfactual novel is a chilling, surreal caprice

25 February 2017 9:00 am

At the start of this novella the protagonist, Thibaut, is ambushed by Wehrmacht soldiers between the ninth and tenth arrondissements.…

John Burnside treads sacred ground in Ashland & Vine

25 February 2017 9:00 am

John Burnside is the author of an impressive bookshelf of elegant novels and slim, precise volumes of poetry, and like…

Cardinal Richelieu is transformed from villain to ‘physical and moral genius’ in Dumas’s sequel to The Three Musketeers

There’s swash and buckle galore in Dumas’s sequel to The Three Musketeers

18 February 2017 9:00 am

A feeble king and his scheming minister, a hunchback noble and the Daughters of Repentance, a botched assassination and a…

Three’s a crowd in James Lasdun’s The Fall Guy

18 February 2017 9:00 am

James Lasdun’s latest novel, billed as a psychological thriller, opens in Brooklyn in the summer of 2012. Charlie and his…

Illustration by Alfonse Adolf Bichard for the original Adventures of Baron Munchausen

Baron Munchausen is back

11 February 2017 9:00 am

Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky was born in the wrong place at the wrong time. Had his Polish ancestor not been exiled to…

First Love: a hilarious send-up of chick lit

11 February 2017 9:00 am

If ever there was a book for our uncaring, unsharing times, it is Gwendoline Riley’s First Love, in which Neve,…

Paul Auster’s 4 3 2 1 is an epic home-run

4 February 2017 9:00 am

After a long struggle to receive mainstream publication, Paul Auster’s first few novels were a genuinely significant contribution to American…

Give yourself a treat and hurry on down to Spook Street

4 February 2017 9:00 am

It’s good to be back in Spook Street, home of the nation’s secret service. From a handful of locations across…

Love and loss in America’s wide open spaces

4 February 2017 9:00 am

We know our way around Raymond Carver’s blue-collar cityscapes and Updike’s urban angst and despair. Rick Bass opens a window…

Elif Shafak’s Three Daughters of Eve agonise over religion, identity, freedom and feminism

4 February 2017 9:00 am

It’s terribly difficult to write a novel about soul-searching, and Elif Shafak has come up with a rather clever device…

Ismail Kadare satirises the artful Hoxha

4 February 2017 9:00 am

Blood, they say, is quick on the knife in Albania, where Balkan-style revenge killings, known as giakmarrje (‘blood-takings’), settle ancient…

Is Jonathan Lethem telling a story or just playing games?

28 January 2017 9:00 am

In backgammon, a blot is a single checker, sitting alone and unprotected. This is a sly title for this sly…

The Nix is yet another first novel about writing a first novel

28 January 2017 9:00 am

Like many debut novels, The Nix, by the American author Nathan Hill, is about somebody writing their first book. Samuel…

Fear and loathing in Lahore

28 January 2017 9:00 am

In a Kashmiri apple orchard, a young fugitive from the Indian army’s cruel oppressions spots a snake that has ‘mistaken…