Book review – fiction

(image: istock)

A choice of first novels

21 October 2017 9:00 am

Black Rock White City (Melville House, £16.99) is ostensibly about a spate of sinister graffiti in a Melbourne hospital. ‘The…

(image: iStock)

Unearthly powers

21 October 2017 9:00 am

This delightfully good-humoured novel is the sort of genre scramble that doesn’t often work: there’s a bit of 1990s family…

Philip Pullman (image: Getty)

Three daemons in a boat

21 October 2017 9:00 am

Philip Pullman’s new k, the prequel to his Northern Lights series — the one north Oxford academics very much prefer…

Victorian house (image: istock)

Something scary in the attic

21 October 2017 9:00 am

How do you like your ghosts? Supernatural fiction is arguably the hardest to get right. Ideally it should terrify, but…

That’s no lady

7 October 2017 9:00 am

Did I enjoy this novel? Yes! Nevertheless, it dismayed me. How could John Banville, whom I’ve admired so much ever…

Well of sorrows

2 September 2017 9:00 am

The Red-haired Woman is shorter than Orhan Pamuk’s best-known novels, and is, in comparison, pared down, written with deliberate simplicity…

Stage fright

2 September 2017 9:00 am

Patrick McGrath is a master of novels about post-traumatic fragmentation and dissolution, set amid gothic gloom. His childhood years spent…

Mysticism and metamorphosis

2 September 2017 9:00 am

‘I frankly hate Descartes,’ states a character in Nicole Krauss’s new novel, Forest Dark: ‘The more he talks about following…

A clash of loyalties

2 September 2017 9:00 am

If someone was to lob the name Antigone about, many of us would smile and nod while trying to remember…

The man who disappeared

19 August 2017 9:00 am

Walking out of one’s own life — unpredictably, perhaps even without premeditation and certainly without anything approaching a plan —…

In Woolf’s clothing

19 August 2017 9:00 am

Martin Amis once said that the writer’s life is half ambition and half anxiety. While one part of your brain…

The search for meaning

19 August 2017 9:00 am

He’s not what you’d call prolific, Bernard MacLaverty. Midwinter Break is his fifth novel in 40 years, and his first…

Torn between envy and contempt

5 August 2017 9:00 am

Arriving at boarding school with the wrong shoes and a teddy bear in his suitcase, the hero of Elizabeth Day’s…

No pain, no gain

5 August 2017 9:00 am

It is an unexpected pleasure when fiction has a soundtrack to accompany the work of reviewing. H(A)PPY is ‘best enjoyed…

A choice of first novels

5 August 2017 9:00 am

Remember Douglas Coupland? Remember Tama Janowitz? Remember Lisa St Aubin de Terán? Banana Yoshimoto? Françoise Sagan? The voice of your…

The evil that men do

5 August 2017 9:00 am

The first thing to say about Claudio Magris’s new novel is that it is, in an important sense, unreadable. There…

Down – if not out – in Paris

29 July 2017 9:00 am

Virginie Despentes remains best known in this country for her 1993 debut novel, Baise-Moi, about two abused young women who…

The dark side of creativity

29 July 2017 9:00 am

In Eureka, Anthony Quinn gives us all the enjoyable froth we could hope for in a novel about making a…

Playing Stalin for laughs

22 July 2017 9:00 am

Christopher Wilson’s new novel is much easier to enjoy than to categorise. And ‘enjoy’ is definitely the right word, even…

The cold grip of fear

22 July 2017 9:00 am

A screenwriter sits in a lovely rented house somewhere up an Alp in early December. The air is clear, the…

A choice of short stories

22 July 2017 9:00 am

It can’t be easy to switch between editing others people’s fiction and writing your own: how do you suspend that…

Striking camp in Canada, March 1820

Annie Proulx is lost in the woods

4 June 2016 9:00 am

In spurts and bursts and flashes, a sublime novelist at work reveals herself. In Annie Proulx’s new novel, there are…

Le Clézio’s The Prospector: from tropical beaches to the trenches of the Somme

4 June 2016 9:00 am

It is not easy to avoid clichés when writing about J.M.G. Le Clézio. Born in Nice in 1940, the recipient…

Crime pursues the crime writer

28 May 2016 9:00 am

Patricia Highsmith was an accretion of oddities — a woman who doted on her pet snails and carried a selection…

Sexual tension and Siberian magic mushrooms

28 May 2016 9:00 am

On her arrival in Russia in 1914, Gerty Freely finds it refreshingly liberal compared to her native Britain: here servants…