Book review – fiction

Middle-class marriage — and an apologia for adultery

21 January 2017 9:00 am

What to make of this unexpectedly startling novel? Though you may be lured into a false sense of familiarity by…

There’s no spy like an old spy

21 January 2017 9:00 am

It is a chastening thought that Boris Johnson’s responsibilities now include MI6. Alan Judd’s latest novel is particularly interesting about…

Robert Olen Butler’s anguished hero is haunted by the wrong war

21 January 2017 9:00 am

At first glance, Robert Olen Butler’s Perfume River seems like an application for a National Book Award. Its protagonist, Robert,…

Beastly tales from Hungary

21 January 2017 9:00 am

The Hungarian novelist László Krasznahorkai has only lately become known to Anglophone audiences, through the masterly translations of George Szirtes…

Films, friendship and facets of truth

14 January 2017 9:00 am

Others goes straight to the head. Things start like this: with an article on a website called ‘Women and Film’,…

Tim Pears’s pastoral schmaltz would make perfect Sunday evening telly

14 January 2017 9:00 am

Set in rural England in 1911, Tim Pears’s latest novel tells of a friendship between 12-year-old Leo, a precocious carter,…

Is The Evenings really the best Dutch novel of all time?

31 December 2016 9:00 am

Most of us lead lives of quiet desperation. So we’re told. Frits van Egters apparently leads a life more desperate…

Inbreeding and schizophrenia make for double trouble in Salley Vickers’s lastest novel

10 December 2016 9:00 am

Cousins is a curious novel. If I’d been a publisher’s reader, I’d have consigned it to the rejection pile after…

Leslie Downer’s romantic novel of 19th-century Japan is a brilliant blend of fact and fiction

10 December 2016 9:00 am

All readers know that good novels draw us into other worlds. I cannot think of another, however, which so alarmed…

Cynan Jones’s Cove is an unforgettable adventure

3 December 2016 9:00 am

If there’s one shared characteristic of the so-called ‘new nature writing’ it is a failure, with a few notable exceptions,…

Is Jarett Kobek the Michel Houellebecq of San Francisco?

3 December 2016 9:00 am

I Hate the Internet is not so much a novel as a wildly entertaining rant. Jarett Kobek is a self-published…

Alan Moore’s epic novel is a moveable feast

26 November 2016 9:00 am

A century ago, Sir Hubert Parry set Blake’s ‘Jerusalem’ to music. The lyric had been written 100 years earlier and…

Gallows humour is at its darkest in David Grossman’s latest novel

26 November 2016 9:00 am

A horse walks into a bar.… David Grossman takes the opening line of an old joke for his title, which…

The latest first novels make for gruesome reading

19 November 2016 9:00 am

Constellation by Adrien Bosc (Serpent’s Tail, £12.99) picks nimbly along the divide between fiction and non-fiction. It’s really a speculative…

Ali Smith’s post-Brexit Britain is already falling apart

19 November 2016 9:00 am

Ali Smith is that rare thing in Britain: a much-beloved experimental writer. Part of her attraction for readers is that…

Worse than Big Brother — trapped in a glass bubble in the Arizona desert

12 November 2016 9:00 am

The California novelist T.C. Boyle has often taken true stories and created alternative histories, from John Harvey Kellog and the…

Diane Williams’s surreal parables are an acquired taste — and one well worth acquiring

12 November 2016 9:00 am

There is a common assumption that experimental writing — for want of a better term — is obscure, joyless and…

Zadie Smith’s latest dance to the music of time

5 November 2016 9:00 am

Zadie Smith explores themes of identity, freedom, rhythm and time with much skill and grace, says Ruth Scurr

The worst of all possible worlds — one run by women

5 November 2016 9:00 am

Teenage girls all over the world have suddenly developed electro-magnetic powers that can be unleashed on anybody who bugs them.…

Margaret Drabble squares up to old age

5 November 2016 9:00 am

A preoccupation with death is felt from the start of Margaret Drabble’s new novel, which opens with Francesca Stubbs, in…

The trials and tribulations of Salem's Judge Samuel Sewall

5 November 2016 9:00 am

Richard Francis’s new novel covers ostensibly familiar ground. Set in and around Boston in the 1690s, it tells the story…

Cries and whispers in the TB sanitorium

29 October 2016 9:00 am

If you are 70-plus, the shadow of TB will have hung over your childhood and youth, as it did mine,…

Button up your overcoat before settling down with Ed O’Loughlin

29 October 2016 9:00 am

Brrrrr, this is a chilly book. Each time a character put on his sealskin kamiks, muskrat hat, wolfskin mittens and…

Rabih Alameddine’s desperate protagonist is plagued by Death, the Devil and the ashes of former lovers

22 October 2016 9:00 am

Shades of The Master and Margarita haunt Rabih Alameddine’s sixth book, in which Jacob, a Yemeni-born poet with a day…

It’s time Christopher Priest’s devout congregation extended beyond sci-fi enthusiasts

22 October 2016 9:00 am

Christopher Priest, now 73, has been quietly turning out oddly mesmerising fiction for nearly half a century but, like the…