Stig Abell

Part sermon, part crossword puzzle

The Schooldays of Jesus is not, as it happens, about the schooldays of Jesus. It is the Man Booker-nominated sequel to The Childhood of Jesus (which, you guessed it, did not once refer to the childhood of Jesus either). J.M. Coetzee is now so much part of the literary pantheon, so liable to be rewarded

Umbrella, by Will Self

James Joyce once described Ulysses — in dog Italian — as a ‘maledettisimo romanzaccione’, or monstrously big novel. It has come to stand as a modernist masterpiece, and also the acme of difficult, inaccessible, unwieldy fiction. It is to be read (if at all) effortfully, in sweaty admiration, and mercifully short chunks. One cannot help

Stig Abell’s diary: My days in court with the Sun

Soon after I joined the Sun as managing editor (among other things, I used to review novels for The Spectator), I read an interview with Keir Starmer, the outgoing head of the Crown Prosecution Service. What an unhealthy thing it would be, he said, if journalists had to consult with lawyers every time they pursued

The Scent of Death, by Andrew Taylor – review

Raymond Chandler once said that ‘the detective story, even in its most conventional form, is difficult to write well. Good specimens of the art are much rarer than good serious novels.’ This holds true for genre writing generally. Historical fictions, like murder mysteries, can often be dismissed as the thoughtless product of the hack, not

The growing pains of spirited youth

It is initially unsettling to read a new novel by an acclaimed author that is not really new at all, merely available in an English translation for the first time. Orhan Pamuk, the Nobel Prize winner, wrote Silent House way back in 1983. It was his second novel, and helped to cement his reputation as

Nothing connects

This is a slight book containing short stories about minor characters. And it is about to receive some fairly faint praise. A Possible Life, Sebastian Faulks’ 12th novel, does little to confirm exactly where he sits in the modern British canon. It probably does not matter greatly; on this showing, he is a competent creator