Books

For Glasgow – with love and squalor: The Second Cut, by Louise Welsh, reviewed

22 January 2022 9:00 am

Never, never kill the dog. It’s rule one in the crime writer’s manual. Cats are bad enough, as I can…

The Georgians feel closer to us now than the Victorians

22 January 2022 9:00 am

‘The two most fascinating subjects in the universe are sex and the 18th century,’ declared the novelist Brigid Brophy when…

A tale of love and grim determination: Zorrie, by Laird Hunt, reviewed

22 January 2022 9:00 am

When Zorrie Underwood, the titular character in Laird Hunt’s deeply touching novel about an Indiana farm woman, is pregnant, a…

Rejecting the Raj: Gandhi’s acolytes in the West

22 January 2022 9:00 am

Madeleine Slade, born in 1892, was a typical upper-class Victorian daughter of empire: a childhood riding around her grand-father’s estate…

The dark story behind Bambi, the book Hitler banned

22 January 2022 9:00 am

The extent of Walt Disney’s grasp of the natural world remains unclear. After the Austrian author Felix Salten sold the…

The misery memoir of a devoted polyamorist

22 January 2022 9:00 am

The rules of sex can kill. In 1844 an angry mob shot Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, for his…

How the net finally closed on the Nazi henchman Andrei Sawoniuk

22 January 2022 9:00 am

Fedor Zan was 18, working on the river closing sluices, when, on a winter afternoon in 1942, he saw his…

The great Chinese puzzle: how to adapt the language to modern communication technologies

22 January 2022 9:00 am

Any student of Chinese will sympathise with the 17th-century Jesuit priest Fr Emeric Langlois de Chavagnac when he wrote: ‘One…

The women who changed American cuisine forever

22 January 2022 9:00 am

What is ‘immigrant food’? In America, the answer can be just about anything — from burritos to bibimbap to burgers.…

Confused lives: It’s Getting Dark, by Peter Stamm, reviewed

22 January 2022 9:00 am

The Swiss writer Peter Stamm’s inscrutable, alienated outsiders make bizarre choices to escape stifling mundanity. Their discontent suggests malaise, something…

Gay and abandoned: A Previous Life, by Edmund White, reviewed

22 January 2022 9:00 am

Edmund White’s new novel opens, somewhat improbably, in 2050. This imagined future, however, springs few surprises on the reader and…

Formidable woman of letters: the grit and wisdom of Elizabeth Hardwick

22 January 2022 9:00 am

Elaine Showalter celebrates the grit and wisdom of Elizabeth Hardwick

Communists down under

15 January 2022 9:00 am

When I was a fifteen-year-old student at Melbourne High School, I tried to join the Communist Party of Australia. One…

Celebrating Konstantin Paustovsky — hailed as ‘the Russian Proust’

15 January 2022 9:00 am

When is a life worth telling? The Soviet writer Konstantin Paustovsky’s six-volume autobiography The Story of a Life combines high…

The novels that became instant classics

15 January 2022 9:00 am

In the world of books, a modern classic is an altogether more slippery thing than a classic: it must walk…

A topsy-turvy world: Peaces, by Helen Oyeyemi, reviewed

15 January 2022 9:00 am

At a village train station in deepest Kent two men and their pet mongoose are setting off on their honeymoon.…

Should we blame our ancestors for slavery when we’re equally culpable?

15 January 2022 9:00 am

The premise of White Debt is that the author’s ancestors ran a business selling a product grown by slaves. Therefore…

Emperor for three years: the doomed reign of Maximilian I of Mexico

15 January 2022 9:00 am

On 8 April 1864 an Austrian archduke with a penchant for daydreaming agreed to be emperor of Mexico. As Edward…

A cursed place: Small Things Like These, by Claire Keegan, reviewed

15 January 2022 9:00 am

Claire Keegan’s tiny, cataclysmic novel takes us into the heart of small-town Ireland a few decades ago, creating a world…

When did postmodernism begin?

15 January 2022 9:00 am

There’s a scene in Martin Amis’s 1990s revenge comedy The Information in which a book reviewer, who’s crushed by his…

Favourite books revisited: Rob Doyle’s edgy reading list

15 January 2022 9:00 am

‘Male writers now are the opposition party, and that may not be such a bad thing for them.’ So Rob…

The Greeks’ bitter fight for freedom

15 January 2022 9:00 am

Last year was the 200th anniversary of the outbreak of the war of Greek independence in March 1821. It has…

Scholars and spectres: The Runes Have Been Cast, by Robert Irwin, reviewed

15 January 2022 9:00 am

It could be said that the power of a horror story depends on the possibility, however minute, of it being…

A late fling: Free Love, by Tessa Hadley, reviewed

15 January 2022 9:00 am

Tessa Hadley is the queen of the portentous evening, the pregnant light and the carefully composed life unwittingly waiting to…

Variations on a theme: To Paradise, by Hanya Yanagihara, reviewed

15 January 2022 9:00 am

My daunting brief: to tell you about Hanya Yanagihara and her new, uncategorisable 720-page novel in 550 words. It’s the…