Fiction

Wistful thinking: Mr Wilder & Me, by Jonathan Coe, reviewed

31 October 2020 9:00 am

Mr Wilder & Me is not in any way a state- of-the-nation novel — and thank goodness. Brilliant as Jonathan…

Kicking up a stink: Dead Fingers Talk, by William S. Burroughs, reviewed

31 October 2020 9:00 am

William Burroughs was introduced to a British readership in November 1963, and the welcome he received was ‘UGH…’ The headline…

Cyber apocalypse: The Silence, by Don DeLillo, reviewed

24 October 2020 9:00 am

Elaborated over a writing career that spans half a century — a career crowned with every honour save the Nobel…

Looking for love: Ghosts, by Dolly Alderton

24 October 2020 9:00 am

Of all the successful modern female writers documenting their search for love, none has been as endearing as Dolly Alderton.…

A Jack Reacher travesty: The Sentinel, by Lee Child and Andrew Child, reviewed

24 October 2020 9:00 am

So upsetting it would have been, for those of us who rate Lee Child’s Jack Reacher thrillers so highly, if…

Euthanasia sitcom: What Are You Going Through, by Sigrid Nunez, reviewed

17 October 2020 9:00 am

What Are You Going Through is both brilliant and mercifully brief. Weighing in at 200-odd pages, it can be read…

Lacrimae rerum: That Old Country Music, by Kevin Barry, reviewed

17 October 2020 9:00 am

Some of my happiest fiction-reading hours have been spent in the company of Kevin Barry: two short-story collections, both prize-winners,…

Dublin double act: Love, by Roddy Doyle, reviewed

17 October 2020 9:00 am

Far be it from me to utter a word against the patron saint of Dublin pubs, Roddy Doyle. Granted he’s…

Appearances are deceptive: Trio, by William Boyd, reviewed

10 October 2020 9:00 am

Talbot Kydd, film producer; Anny Viklund, American actress; Elfrida Wing, novelist; these make the trio of the title. Private lives…

Breakdown in Berlin: Red Pill, by Hari Kunzru, reviewed

10 October 2020 9:00 am

‘I was what they call an “independent scholar”’, confides the narrator of Hari Kunzru’s Red Pill, a middle-aged writer from…

Hitler’s devastating secret weapon: V2, by Robert Harris, reviewed

10 October 2020 9:00 am

After Stalingrad, Hitler desperately needed an encouraging novelty. Wernher von Braun, Germany’s leading rocketeer in the second world war, expertly…

Opposites attract: Just Like You, by Nick Hornby, reviewed

3 October 2020 9:00 am

Babysitters are having a literary moment. Following Kiley Reid’s debut Such a Fun Age, Nick Hornby is the latest author…

A melting pot of mercenaries: Afterlives, by Abdulrazak Gurnah, reviewed

3 October 2020 9:00 am

‘That was how that part of the world was at the time. Every bit of it belonged to Europeans, at…

Full of desperate longing: Unquiet, by Linn Ullmann, reviewed

3 October 2020 9:00 am

The scrawny little girl with ‘pipe-cleaner legs’ wants to feel at home with her parents. But father and mother live…

Tenderness and sorrow: Inside Story, by Martin Amis, reviewed

26 September 2020 9:00 am

Inside Story is called, on the front cover, which boasts a very charming photograph of the author and Christopher Hitchens,…

A dazzling fable about loneliness: Piranesi, by Susanna Clarke, reviewed

19 September 2020 9:00 am

Susanna Clarke is a member of the elite group of authors who don’t write enough. In 2004, the bestselling debut…

Family secrets: Love Orange, by Natasha Randall, reviewed

19 September 2020 9:00 am

The line between obsession and addiction is as thin as rolling paper. Neither are simple and both stem from absence,…

Gay abandon: Islands of Mercy, by Rose Tremain, reviewed

12 September 2020 9:00 am

Rose Tremain has followed her masterly The Gustav Sonata with an altogether different novel. In 1865, Clorinda Morrissey, a 38-year-old…

Primal longing: Blue Ticket, by Sophie Macintosh, reviewed

12 September 2020 9:00 am

Sophie Macintosh’s Blue Ticket is not classic feminist dystopia. Yes, it is concerned with legislated fertility, a world where women’s…

Forlorn Plorn: The Dickens Boy, by Thomas Keneally, reviewed

5 September 2020 9:00 am

Parents are always terrified of bad family history repeating itself. Prince Albert dreaded his son Bertie turning into a roué…

Portrait of a paranoiac: Death in Her Hands, by Ottessa Moshfegh, reviewed

5 September 2020 9:00 am

Like Ottessa Moshfegh’s first novel Eileen (2015), Death in Her Hands plays with the conventions of noir. Vesta Gul, a…

My dazzling chum: Mayflies, by Andrew O’Hagan, reviewed

29 August 2020 9:00 am

Presumably because a small part of it takes place in Salford, the epigraph to Andrew O’Hagan’s latest novel consists of…

A story without redemption: The Lying Life of Adults, by Elena Ferrante, reviewed

29 August 2020 9:00 am

‘I don’t at all hate lies,’ Elena Ferrante explained in Frantumaglia, her manifesto for authorial anonymity. ‘I find them useful…

Bombs over London: V for Victory, by Lissa Evans, reviewed

22 August 2020 9:00 am

Lissa Evans has been single-handedly rescuing the Hampstead novel from its reputation of being preoccupied by pretension and middle-class morality.…

A rainy day in the Highlands: Summerwater, by Sarah Moss, reviewed

22 August 2020 9:00 am

There is an old Yorkshire tale about a prosperous town which, legend has it, once stood on the site of…