Lee Langley

Lee Langley is the author of ten novels and has written several film scripts and screenplays.

Dangerous secrets: Verdigris, by Michele Mari, reviewed

In everyday life – on a garden path, flowerpot or lettuce – I back rapidly away from slugs. I didn’t expect to confront them in literature, but in Michele Mari’s Verdigris they are present in abundance, from the first line: Bisected by a precise blow of the spade, the slug writhed a moment longer: then

Anonymous caller: This Plague of Souls, by Mike McCormack, reviewed

Mike McCormack is much garlanded. He won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature with his first collection of stories; the Goldsmith’s Prize followed in 2016, along with the Irish Book of the Year Award and the International Dublin Literary Award, for his novel Solar Bones. A book-length, single- sentence analysis of a man’s life, that

A cabinet of curiosities: You, Bleeding Childhood, by Michele Mari

Michele Mari is one of Italy’s most eminent writers. A prize-winning novelist, poet, translator and academic, he is hardly known to anglophone readers, but that is about to change. You, Bleeding Childhood, a collection of 13 stories written over a period of 30 years, offers a portal into Mari’s surreal, unsettling world: a place of

Bittersweet memories: Ti Amo, by Hanne Ørstavik, reviewed

This is a deceptively slim novel. Its 96 pages contain multitudes: two lives, past and present, seamlessly interwoven. The narrator, a Norwegian novelist, and her Italian husband live in Milan. ‘Ti amo,’ they frequently tell each other. Easier to say ‘I love you’, than for him to say he’s dying, and her to say she

Dangerous liaisons: Bad Eminence, by James Greer, reviewed

Vanessa Salomon is an internationally successful translator. Clever, beautiful, privileged – ‘born in a trilingual household: French, English and money’ – she can indulge herself professionally with obscure, neglected books. About to embark on a forgotten nouveau roman by Alain Robbe-Grillet, she’s offered an irresistible assignment. A bestselling French novelist who is definitely not Michel

Murder, suicide and apocalypse: Here Goes Nothing, by Steve Toltz, reviewed

Angus Mooney is dead. Freshly murdered, he’s appalled to find himself in an Afterworld, having always rejected the possibility of life after death. Moreover, he can observe his murderer getting on increasingly well with his innocent widow. Mooney’s Afterworld is a deeply unsatisfactory mixture of computerised bureaucracy and urban chaos. In a landscape undreamed of

Lasting infamy: Booth, by Karen Joy Fowler, reviewed

Were it not for an event on the night of 14 April 1865, John Wilkes Booth would be remembered, if at all, as an actor; brother of the more famous Edwin, and son of Junius Brutus – a footnote to the history of American theatre. But that night Booth leaped on to the stage of

Brave new virtual world: The Startup Wife, by Tahmima Anam, reviewed

Welcome to Utopia — not an idyllic arcadia but a secretive tech incubator in a Manhattan office block. Here a computer scientist, Asha Ray, the narrator of The Startup Wife, her charismatic husband Cyrus and best friend Jules are nervously pitching their app platform — Asha’s cutting-edge algorithm aimed at people yearning for ritual without

Ghosts of the past: The Field, by Robert Seethaler, reviewed

Give dead bones a voice and they speak volumes: George Saunders’s Lincoln in the Bardo was clamorous with the departed having their say. Edgar Lee Masters, 100 years earlier, startled the American literary world with Spoon River Anthology, poems that were miniature autobiographies of the occupants of a small Illinois graveyard. Now, The Field by

Lacrimae rerum: That Old Country Music, by Kevin Barry, reviewed

Some of my happiest fiction-reading hours have been spent in the company of Kevin Barry: two short-story collections, both prize-winners, and three captivating novels. First, the baroque mayhem of City of Bohane, characters exploding on the page flashing knives and fancy footwear, its vernacular veering from Clockwork Orange argot to Joycean dazzle. A world away

As intricate as an origami sculpture: The Lost Future of Pepperharrow reviewed

Steampunk, a shapeshifting and unpredictable genre, has a way of subverting the past, mischievously disordering the universe with historical what-ifs. It’s a field not normally rewarded with prizes and critical hallelujahs. Natasha Pulley’s first novel, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, proved an exception. In a gaslit London menaced by Fenian terrorism, Nathaniel, a wide-eyed innocent,