British writers who set their first novels in America are apt to come horribly unstuck.
A chronicle of three young actors desperate to forge careers in the acting profession sounds like a dangerously familiar proposition.
Sam Leith is enthralled by a masterpiece on monotony, but is devastated by its author’s death
Rocco LaGrassa was ‘stout around the middle . . . wee at the ankles, and girlish at his tiny feet, a man in the shape of a lightbulb’. In Salvatore Scibona’s first novel we join this lightbulb of a man on perhaps his darkest day: the day on which the police arrive at his door to tell him his son has just died of tuberculosis in a prisoner-of-war camp in North Korea.
Philip Hensher’s King of the Badgers is set in Hanmouth, a small English coastal town described so thickly that it is established from the outset as effectively a character in itself.
Sam Leith explores H. G. Wells’s addiction to free love, as revealed in David Lodge’s latest biographical novel
The title of this first novel refers to a version of childhood as a magical kingdom where evil can be overturned and heaven and earth remade at the whim of a power-crazed infant.
About 80 per cent of books sold in this country are said to be bought by women, none more eagerly than Joanna Trollope’s anatomies of English middle-class family life. Her 16th novel, Daughters-in-Law (Cape, £18.99), is sociologically and psychologically as observant as ever, showing how not to be a suffocatingly possessive mother-in-law.
Hisham Matar is a Libyan-American writer whose father, Jaballa — an opponent of Gaddafi — was kidnapped in Cairo in 1990.
The death of the Polish-born British novelist Joseph Conrad is the central event of David Miller’s debut novel.
Great House is an ambitious novel, if it’s a novel at all.
Annie Proulx (pronounced ‘Pru’) began her writing career — quite late, in her fifties — as E.A. Proulx, to baffle misogynist editors; then she was E. Annie Proulx, until she dropped the E and became simply Annie the Proulx.
In a market town in Kent at the time of Thatcher’s Britain, Charles Pemberton attends the town’s minor public school where his businessman father is a governor.
Anthropomorphism and a weird, astringent sense of humour combined to make The Queue, the late Jonathan Barrow’s only novel, a work of genius in the opinion of his brother Andrew.
Cedilla picks up where Adam Mars-Jones’s previous novel Pilcrow (2008) left off.
If this novel is ever published with a scratch-and-sniff cover — which incidentally, I think it might be successful enough to warrant — this is what it would smell of: cheap petrol, lust, the ripe, acidic scent of decaying corpse, cat litter, $2,000 suits, Cristal champagne, decaying encyclopaedia, corruption, fumes from the power plant, betrayal, sausage.
It’s the way Caroline pisses onto the concrete during the lunch break that delights her work colleagues: in a steaming, splattery arc.
Philip Hensher finds Flaubert’s scorn for his characters relieved by hilarity
Why do so many aspiring writers think it best to begin with the short story and graduate to the novel? It’s madness.
‘I only see radiators these days’, announces one of the characters in this novel — ‘You know, people who give out heat and warmth.’ A radiator is a pretty good description of India Knight’s Comfort and Joy (Fig Tree/ Penguin, £14.99), too: a book so kindly and funny and affectionate that you could probably warm your hands on it.
After having for so long been treated with such disdain by the French literary establishment, Michel Houellebecq has at last been embraced by it.
In this season of Franzen frenzy, spare a thought for André Aciman, an American writer whose name, I think, is so far unmentioned in the daft pursuit of the Great American Novel.
Criticising Dawn French feels like kicking a puppy. She’s so winning that the nation was even tempted to let The Vicar of Dibley slide.