Fiction

Washed up in Istanbul: 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World, by Elif Shafak, reviewed

13 July 2019 9:00 am

Elif Shafak once described Istanbul as a set of matryoshka dolls: a place where anything was possible. As with much…

Star-crossed lovers: Sweet Sorrow, by David Nicholls, reviewed

13 July 2019 9:00 am

The 16-year-old hero of David Nicholls’s fifth novel is ostensibly Everyboy. It is June 1997, the last day at dreary…

At long last love: Live a Little, by Howard Jacobson, reviewed

13 July 2019 9:00 am

Towards the end of Live a Little, one of its two main characters says: ‘I’m past the age of waiting…

Savagery in the Cape Colony: Red Dog, by Willem Anker, reviewed

6 July 2019 9:00 am

Red Dog is an ambitious hybrid of a book. It was published in South Africa to wide acclaim in 2014…

Haunting short stories of fear and frustration

6 July 2019 9:00 am

In Nicole Flattery’s Show Them a Good Time (Bloomsbury, £14.99), her female protagonists grapple with abusive relationships, degree courses, difficult…

Beauty on the beach: Isolde, by Irina Odoevtseva, reviewed

6 July 2019 9:00 am

France was to blame. Yes, France was most definitely to blame. He was never like this at home. So thinks…

A novel about depression that doesn’t depress: Starling Days, by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, reviewed

6 July 2019 9:00 am

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan has achieved that rare feat, in her second novel Starling Days, of writing a convincing novel about…

An education in love: City of Girls, by Elizabeth Gilbert, reviewed

22 June 2019 9:00 am

One of the chief regrets of book-loving women of my age — and a surprising number of men — is…

Mystery in the Sundarbans: Gun Island, by Amitav Ghosh, reviewed

15 June 2019 9:00 am

Meet Deen Datta, a nervous, practical and cautious man, born and brought up in Calcutta, who now lives in Brooklyn,…

Nights at the Lyceum: Shadowplay, by Joseph O’Connor, reviewed

8 June 2019 9:00 am

‘I am very, very pleased,’ murmured Queen Victoria in 1895, when she dubbed Henry Irving, Britain’s first theatrical knight. He…

Gen Xers v. Millennials: White, by Bret Easton Ellis, reviewed

1 June 2019 9:00 am

Q: What’s worse than listening to someone ranting hysterically about Donald Trump? A: Listening to Bret Easton Ellis ranting hysterically…

Sandra Newman. Credit: George Baier

Parallel worlds: The Heavens, by Sandra Newman, reviewed

18 May 2019 9:00 am

The Heavens is Sandra Newman’s eighth book. It follows novels featuring, variously, sex addiction, Buddhism and a post-apocalyptic teen dystopia;…

Credit: Robin Hill

Gothic extremes of human cruelty: Cari Mora, by Thomas Harris, reviewed

18 May 2019 9:00 am

It has been 13 years since Thomas Harris published a novel, and the last time he published one without Hannibal…

Will Wiles. Credit: Marcus Ross

Who needs psychogeography? Plume, by Will Wiles, reviewed

11 May 2019 9:00 am

With his first novel about looking after an engineered wood floor, and a second novel about what it is like…

Is there no end to the retelling of classical myths?

11 May 2019 9:00 am

In the past few years there has been a flourishing of literary responses to the Trojan war. To mention a…

A hero of the Franco era: Lord of All the Dead, by Javier Cercas, reviewed

11 May 2019 9:00 am

Who is a hero? Javier Cercas, in his 2001 novel Soldiers of Salamis, asked the question, searching for an anonymous…

A very tangled web: Liar, by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, reviewed

4 May 2019 9:00 am

The Hebrew word for ‘truth’ – see above left  (emet) is comprised of the first, middle and last letters of…

Satirising the global society: Only Americans Burn in Hell, by Jarett Kobek, reviewed

4 May 2019 9:00 am

An immortal faery queen from a magical gynocratic island arrives in Los Angeles to track down her missing daughter. This…

An outsider inside: We, The Survivors, by Tash Aw, reviewed

27 April 2019 9:00 am

It’s not immediately obvious who the survivors in Tash Aw’s formidable new novel are, or who the narrator even is,…

Toy boy: Machines Like Me, by Ian McEwan, reviewed

13 April 2019 9:00 am

What kind of loyalty do we owe a robot we’ve paid for — one who exhibits a convincingly human kind…

The Bears v. the Rabbits: The Feral Detective, by Jonathan Lethem, reviewed

6 April 2019 9:00 am

Jonathan Lethem’s new book is billed as ‘his first detective novel since Motherless Brooklyn’, which won America’s national book critics…

Barefoot in the park: Tokyo Ueno Station, by Yu Miri, reviewed

6 April 2019 9:00 am

In 1923, an earthquake with a magnitude of 9 struck Tokyo and Yokohama. A huge area of Tokyo burned. But,…

Philip Kerr, photographed in Paris in 2012. Credit: Getty Images

Farewell Bernie Gunther: Metropolis, by Philip Kerr, reviewed

30 March 2019 9:00 am

Philip Kerr’s first Bernie Gunther novel, March Violets, was published 30 years ago. From the start, the format was a…

The cruise of a lifetime: Proleterka, by Fleur Jaeggy, reviewed

30 March 2019 9:00 am

Near the start of Fleur Jaeggy’s extraordinary novel Proleterka, the unnamed narrator reflects: ‘Children lose interest in their parents when…

Nina Stibbe. Credit: Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi

Further adventures of a dysfunctional family: Reasons to be Cheerful, by Nina Stibbe, reviewed

23 March 2019 9:00 am

My ex-dentist resembled a potato wearing a Patek Phillipe. In those precious moments between the golf course and the cruise…