At home in the multiverse: Bridge, by Lauren Beukes, reviewed

Lauren Beukes is a writer who puts cerebral propositions into breakneck thrillers: structural misogyny in The Shining Girls; the flipside of patriarchy in Afterland. In Bridge, she investigates the depressive’s favourite hypotheticals – could have, should have, would have, might have. The protagonist is Bridget, whose mother, Jo, has recently died from brain cancer. Jo was a scientist, interested in rather eccentric ideas, and has bequeathed Bridget a problematic legacy. It seems as if Jo had found a way, using harmonics, visual stimuli and an odd, worm-like thing (think fungus or parasite or the nematode in a tequila bottle) to access other realities. Through trial and error, Bridget manages to

A visit from the devil: Russian Gothic, by Aleksandr Skorobogatov, reviewed

Like light from faraway stars, fiction from outside the Anglosphere may take decades to reach English-language readers. This sinister, indeed sulphurous, novella by a Belarus-born author was first published in Russian in 1991, and won major awards. Ilona Yazhbin Chavasse’s English translation, as creepily compelling as the book deserves, appears long after the contemporary hook that Aleksandr Skorobogatov embeds in his tale has lost its topicality. Recent events, however, make this fable of obsession, madness and violence timelier than ever. It almost vindicates a belief in Russian history and literature as an epic recycling of eternal themes. In a dismal Russian town lives Nikolai, a drifter and drinker on a

Portrait of a paranoiac: Death in Her Hands, by Ottessa Moshfegh, reviewed

Like Ottessa Moshfegh’s first novel Eileen (2015), Death in Her Hands plays with the conventions of noir. Vesta Gul, a recently widowed 72-year-old, lives in a secluded lake cabin in rural New England. Walking her dog one day in the woods, she finds a cryptic note under a rock: ‘Her name was Magda,’ it reads. ‘Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn’t me. Here is her dead body.’ With no trace of a body or other clues in sight, Vesta pockets the note. Is it a prank, she wonders? Or ‘the beginning of a story tossed out as a false start, a bad opening’? What follows is less