A voyage of literary discovery: Clara Reads Proust, by Stéphane Carlier, reviewed

Should Alain de Botton ever require fictional evidence of ‘How Proust Can Change Your Life’, he could do worse than to turn to Clara, the protagonist of Stéphane Carlier’s latest delightful novel. Clara is a hairdresser in a rather rundown provincial salon in France. She has a good relationship with her boss, Madame Habib, her colleagues, Nolwenn and Patrick, and her loyal clientele, and a more vexed one with JB, her boyfriend of three years, a muscular firefighter who resembles Flynn Ryder in the Disney cartoon.  One day, a mysterious stranger comes to the salon. He barely speaks while Clara is cutting his hair and leaves her no tip, but

The diary of a tortured man: Deceit, by Yuri Felsen, reviewed

Yuri Felsen, born in St Petersburg, was an exile in Riga, Berlin and Paris and died at Auschwitz in 1943. Had his archive not been destroyed, we might find him on the same shelf as Vladimir Nabokov, Vladislav Khodasevich and Ivan Bunin – the glittering Russian literati of 1930s Paris – and Georgy Adamovich, who said that Felsen’s prose ‘left behind a light for which there is no name’. With this new translation of the 1930 novel Deceit, that light has been brought back from dim obscurity. In this first of three novels Felsen published, we follow the unnamed narrator’s tortured obsession with the ‘unequivocally irresistible’ Lyolya Heard, who drifts