Johanna Thomas-Corr

Short on wit

Nominative determinism is the term for that pleasing accord you occasionally find between name and profession: the immigration minister named Brokenshire, the sprinter named Bolt, and so on. Apparently, there was once a Republican candidate for the California state assembly called Rich White. And how wonderful for there to be a comic novelist called Patrick

The bread of life

Sourdough has all the ingredients of a truly despicable work of fiction. Novels about food are awful, aren’t they? Especially novels about baking; they’re the absolute worst. Sourdough is not only a kooky satire inspired by that bread they sell for £6.50 down the farmers’ market – it’s set in San Francisco, the smuggest city

Cries and whispers | 15 June 2017

There’s a moment in A Boy in Winter where a young Ukrainian policeman has to escort his town’s Jewish population to a churned-up field under the watchful eyes of his new Nazi masters. It’s November 1941 and Mykola has been told that all he has to do is relieve the Jews of their luggage and

Dead poet’s society

Alex Salmond, former first minister of Scotland, once claimed that he could always tell Scottish fiction from English. Novels, he said, reveal fundamental differences in the values of the Scots and the English. I wonder then what he would make of Annalena McAfee’s book, Hame — about the most Scottish work of fiction that any

Is this the American Houellebecq?

I Hate the Internet is not so much a novel as a wildly entertaining rant. Jarett Kobek is a self-published former software engineer who has been hailed as the Michel Houellebecq of San Francisco — a city whose tech-era hypocrisies he doesn’t so much as satirise as carpet-bomb with excrement. Kobek lacerates so many aspects