Tom Fleming

Why did David Bomberg disappear?

David Bomberg was only 23 when his first solo exhibition opened in July 1914 at the Chenil Gallery in Chelsea. ‘I am searching for an Intenser expression,’ the brash young painter wrote in the introduction to the catalogue. ‘I hate… the Fat Man of the Renaissance.’ As if to advertise his radical intentions, the first

Short – but far from sweet

Like his Pulitzer Prize-winning first novel, The Sympathisers, the stories in Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Refugees are set largely among the Vietnamese diaspora on the west coast of America, where Nguyen himself lives, having fled to the US from Vietnam with his family in 1975. They mostly feature characters juggling the lives they’ve made in

Starved for choice

Zugzwang by Ronan Bennett Zugzwang, from the German Zug (move) and Zwang (obligation), is a term used in chess when the player whose turn it is to move has no move that does not worsen his position. It is not merely a bad position, but the state of being obliged to move when no move

A choice of first novels

American Youth by Phil LaMarche (Sceptre, £12.99, pp. 221) is a sparsely written, penetrating tale of a boy who finds himself in a moral dilemma when he abets the accidental killing of a neighbour. Fourteen-year-old Ted LeClare tries to impress the Dennison brothers by showing them his father’s rifle, but when he leaves the room

Delicately exposing the past

John Preston’s fourth novel is a quiet dramatisation of the famous Sutton Hoo dig of 1939. Known as ‘the British Tutankhamun’, the excavation in Suffolk uncovered several Anglo-Saxon cemeteries, including one magnificent royal ship burial, and was thrown into relief in September that year by the outbreak of the second world war. The author exploits