Madeleine Feeny

A tale of forbidden love: Trespasses, by Louise Kennedy, reviewed

Kenneth Branagh’s Oscar-winning recent film Belfast chronicles the travails of a Protestant family amid sectarian conflict in 1969. Louise Kennedy’s much hyped first novel, set outside Belfast in 1975, explores the same tensions from a different perspective. Like her protagonist Cushla, Kennedy’s Catholic family owned a pub in a Protestant-majority town, and Trespasses captures how

Dystopian horror: They, by Kay Dick, reviewed

Her name has faded, but the British author and editor Kay Dick once cut a striking figure. She lived in Hampstead with the novelist Kathleen Farrell for more than 20 years, among a mid-20th-century literary set that included Stevie Smith and Ivy Compton-Burnett. Her most acclaimed novel was The Shelf, the story of a lesbian

The view from the Paris bus — an appreciation of everyday life

Many would say the commute was one thing they didn’t miss in lockdown. But when Lauren Elkin was ‘yanked out of the public sphere and resituated, inescapably, in the private’, she felt nostalgic for the bus’s incidental intimacy. The Franco-American writer and translator revisited notes made on her iPhone between September 2014 and November 2015,

The young bride’s tale: China Room, by Sunjeev Sahota, reviewed

Sunjeev Sahota’s novels present an unvarnished image of British Asian lives. Ours Are the Streets chronicles a suicide bomber’s radicalisation, and its Booker-shortlisted successor, The Year of the Runaways, follows illegal immigrants in Sheffield — where Sahota now lives, having been raised in Derby by Punjabi-born parents. China Room, his most autobiographical work to date,

Problem parents: My Phantoms, by Gwendoline Riley, reviewed

Gwendoline Riley’s unsentimental fiction hovers on the edge of comedy and bleakness, and has drawn comparisons from Jean Rhys to Albert Camus. First Love, her fifth novel, put a toxic relationship under the microscope, winning the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize in 2017 and being shortlisted for five others, including the Women’s Prize for Fiction. Expanding

Opposites attract: Just Like You, by Nick Hornby, reviewed

Babysitters are having a literary moment. Following Kiley Reid’s debut Such a Fun Age, Nick Hornby is the latest author to mine the potential for blurred lines and crossed boundaries bred by the employer-childminder dynamic. Throw race, class, sex and Brexit in the mix, and you have a juicy plot that’s both vintage Hornby and