A web of rivalries: The Extinction of Irena Rey, by Jennifer Croft, reviewed

Jennifer Croft is a translator of uncommon energy. In 2018 she won the International Booker Prize for her rendering of Flights by Olga Tokarczuk. In 2021, she took on Tokarczuk’s The Books of Jacob, a great big historical epic. Now she’s written a satirical page-turner set over what one character calls ‘seven toxic, harrowing, oddly arousing, extremely fruitful weeks’. Like members of some ancient mystery cult, eight translators fetch up in a house near a primeval forest in Poland on the Belarus border. The year is 2017. ‘Bedraggled and ecstatic’, they’ve come to translate Szara eminencja (Grey Eminence), a novel about art and mass extinction, by the Stockholm-worthy woman of

Was Thomas Edison guilty of murder?

In September 1890 a Frenchman called Louis Le Prince left his brother in Dijon and boarded a train to Paris, with the intention of connecting to London and then to Leeds, before finally joining his wife Lizzie and family in New York. But the weeks turned into months, and to his wife’s astonishment and dismay he never arrived or saw his family again. He had disappeared. A mere eight months later Thomas Edison would unveil the ‘Kinetograph’ to the world, claiming his apparatus to be the birth of the moving image, featuring ‘pure motion recorded and reproduced’ for the first time. Recognising the device as a version of one invented