Book review – fiction

Symbolism and a man called U: more avant-garde fiction from Tom McCarthy

21 March 2015 9:00 am

In a 2008 essay Zadie Smith held up Tom McCarthy’s austere debut Remainder as a bold exemplar of avant-garde fiction,…

British colonialism is once again under attack in Aatish Taseer’s sprawling Indian epic

21 March 2015 9:00 am

Early in the second section of Aatish Taseer’s The Way Things Were we are presented with a striking description of…

Monstrous, beautiful, damaged people make for tiresome company in Polly Samson’s The Kindness

21 March 2015 9:00 am

Julian is clever, handsome and spoiled, a gilded youth who has all the girls wanting to mother him, and a…

Life after Vera: Patrick Gale’s hero finds happiness towards the end of the Saskatchewan line

21 March 2015 9:00 am

Patrick Gale’s first historical novel is inspired by a non-story, a gap in his own family record. His great-grandfather Harry…

Hock and partridge help fascism go down in 1930s London

14 March 2015 9:00 am

Anthony Quinn’s fourth novel, set in London’s artistic and theatrical circles in 1936, is not the kind in which an…

A Father’s Day tragedy: what exactly happened when a car plunged into a reservoir in Australia in 2005?

7 March 2015 9:00 am

When Helen Garner, an award-winning Australian author, first saw the TV news images of the car being dragged out of…

When two young Britons go camping in Yosemite their lives are changed for ever

7 March 2015 9:00 am

The title of A.D. Miller’s follow-up to his Man Booker shortlisted debut Snowdrops refers not to lovers but to two…

Ogres, pixies, dragons, goblins... Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel in ten years is a strange beast indeed

28 February 2015 9:00 am

If you’d been asked at the beginning of the year whose new novel would feature ogres, pixies and a she-dragon…

Michael Arditti is the Graham Greene of our time

28 February 2015 9:00 am

Duncan Neville is an unlikely hero for a novel. Approaching 50, divorced and the butt of his teenage son Jamie’s…

‘Another terrible thing...’: a novel of pain and grief with courage and style

21 February 2015 9:00 am

Nobody Is Ever Missing takes its title from John Berryman’s ‘Dream Song 29’, a poem which I’d always thought related…

Anne Tyler’s everyday passions

14 February 2015 9:00 am

There was nothing remarkable about the Whitshanks. None of them was famous. None of them could claim exceptional intelligence, and…

The really shocking thing about Michel Houllebecq’s Soumission — he rather likes Islam

17 January 2015 9:00 am

News of Michel Houllebecq’s Soumission caused such a stir that the book was pirated online before publication. David Sexton reports on the latest literary event in France

Time-travel, smugglers, arsenic — what’s not to like in Sally Gardner’s novel for teenagers?

17 January 2015 9:00 am

Which of us, as an adolescent, did not experience at some point a terrible sense of not belonging? Which of…

Bish bash Bosphorus: Elif Shafak’s saga of love and death in Istanbul is crammed with incident on every page

10 January 2015 9:00 am

If you like to curl up by the fire with a proper, old-fashioned, saga-style tale about a boy and his…

Fact, fiction or farce? The American comic novel is becoming increasingly hard to define

3 January 2015 9:00 am

The American comic novel is going through an odd phase. Just lately it seems like anything funny must sneak in…

Stories about storytelling: Kirsty Gunn’s preoccupation with words is utterly entrancing

3 January 2015 9:00 am

Although entitled Infidelities this collection of short stories could as well be called Choices, because that is what really preoccupies…

After the trilogy (and the hurricane): the likeable return of Frank Bascombe

13 December 2014 9:00 am

The story of Frank Bascombe, a sports-writer turned estate agent but always a New Jersey homebody, has already taken Richard…

A treasure-trove of grisly Arab tales may appeal more to an Isis fighter than your average British reader

13 December 2014 9:00 am

The marvellous tales of the title are not just confined to the contents of this book, for the travels and…

Grimms’ fairy tales: the hardcore version

13 December 2014 9:00 am

Child murder, domestic slavery, abusive families, cannibalism and intergenerational hatred — what could be better for the festive fireside than…

A brief, witty look at the coming of the e-book

29 November 2014 9:00 am

Paul Fournel is a novelist, former publisher and French cultural attaché in London, and the provisionally definitive secretary and president…

Women in the various hells of Algiers

29 November 2014 9:00 am

On the surface Harraga is the story of two ill-matched women colliding dramatically, with life-changing consequences. What emerges, in throwaway…

God, aliens and a novel with a mission

22 November 2014 9:00 am

They say never work with children and animals. They could just as well say don’t write about aliens and God.…

A book about the ordinary nothings that, in the end, are everything

15 November 2014 9:00 am

We live in a world in which nuance is trampled on and cannot survive. Is that true? I don’t know.…

Némirovsky's love letter to the France that spurned her and killed her

15 November 2014 9:00 am

By 1940 Irène Némirovsky, who had arrived in France at the age of 16 as a refugee from Kiev, had…

Antonello da Messina’s ‘Condottiere’: the compelling face of a supremely confident man

Which great French novelist was also a crossword-setter?

15 November 2014 9:00 am

One could have endless fun setting quiz questions about Georges Perec. Which French novelist had a scientific paper, ‘Experimental demonstration…