Fiction

Kapows and wisecracks: Fight Me, by Austin Grossman, reviewed

15 June 2024 9:00 am

A mild-manned academic with special powers joins forces with three similarly gifted friends to defeat the Dark Adversary, Sinistro

A Native American tragedy: Wandering Stars, by Tommy Orange, reviewed

8 June 2024 9:00 am

Shocked to find that his Cheyenne forebears had been imprisoned in Florida, Orange was inspired to write a story of displacement and abuse spanning generations

Second life: Playboy, by Constance Debré, reviewed

8 June 2024 9:00 am

Having abandoned her marriage and her career as a lawyer, Debré re-emerges as a lesbian, a writer, and a seducer equal to Casanova

Haunted by the past: Winterberg’s Last Journey, by Jaroslav Rudis, reviewed

8 June 2024 9:00 am

A garrulous nonagenarian and his patient carer make a long train trip to Sarajevo, hoping to solve a decades-old murder mystery

A tragedy waiting to happen: Tiananmen Square, by Lai Wen, reviewed

1 June 2024 9:00 am

A moving coming-of-age novel sees a shy, introverted girl finding friends and freedom at Beijing university – until the authorities begin their murderous clamp-down

Visitants from the past: The Ministry of Time, by Kaliane Bradley, reviewed

1 June 2024 9:00 am

An experimental project transports people across centuries. Lieutenant Graham Gore, an Arctic explorer whisked from the 1840s to present-day London, is not overly impressed

A haunting mystery: Enlightenment, by Sarah Perry, reviewed

25 May 2024 9:00 am

The story of the disappearance from an Essex manor house of a Romanian astronomer named Maria Vaduva starts to obsess a local journalist a century later

A middle-aged man in crisis: How to Make a Bomb, by Rupert Thomson, reviewed

25 May 2024 9:00 am

Travelling home from an academic conference, Philip Notman suddenly feels sick and disorientated. But it will take a long time for him to identify the cause, and possible cure

Women on a wind-swept island: Hagstone, by Sinéad Gleeson, reviewed

18 May 2024 9:00 am

Nell, an artist, lives peacefully on an island, presumably off the west coast of Ireland. But all changes when a group of women occupy a crumbling convent overlooking the sea

Fools rush in: Mania, by Lionel Shriver, reviewed

18 May 2024 9:00 am

In an alternative universe where the Mental Parity Movement holds sway, the ignorant and unqualified are deemed ‘just as good as anyone else’ – with predictable results

Home to mother: Long Island, by Colm Toibín, reviewed

18 May 2024 9:00 am

The sequel to Brooklyn sees Eilis leave New York shocked and angry, and return to Enniscorthy – where everything is outwardly calmer, but much has changed

It’s hard work having fun: Wives Like Us, by Plum Sykes, reviewed

18 May 2024 9:00 am

A ride with friends involves dressing to the nines and stopping at a Marie Antoinette-style ‘hameau’ for sloe-gin cocktails – served by uniformed staff and filmed for Instagram

Kindness backfires: Sufferance, by Charles Palliser, reviewed

11 May 2024 9:00 am

When the father of a family takes in a lost young girl from a minority ethnic group, he puts his own household at risk as racial persecution mounts

A timely morality tale: The Spoiled Heart, by Sunjeev Sahota, reviewed

4 May 2024 9:00 am

Conflicting ideals of old-school socialism and modern identity politics are fought out against a background of urban desolation worthy of Dickens

The slave’s story: James, by Percival Everett, reviewed

27 April 2024 9:00 am

A retelling of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in the voice of Huck’s companion the runaway slave changes the nature of the pair’s relationship – not always for the better

Hero and villain: The Two Loves of Sophie Strom, by Sam Taylor, reviewed

27 April 2024 9:00 am

A Jewish teenager is the victim of a Nazi arson attack in 1933. Alternative scenarios see him joining the French Resistance, and being recruited by the SS

The awkwardness of love in middle age: You Are Here, by David Nicholls, reviewed

27 April 2024 9:00 am

A man and woman, both casualties of failed marriages, are attracted to one another on a walking holiday, but are strangely overcome by shyness

Grotesque vignettes: The Body in the Mobile Library and Other Stories, by Peter Bradshaw, reviewed

20 April 2024 9:00 am

Relishing the outrageous and improbable, Bradshaw treats us to stories that often rely more on twist than plot

Mediterranean Gothic: The Sleepwalkers, by Scarlett Thomas, reviewed

13 April 2024 9:00 am

Thomas tells her tale of a hellish honeymoon on a Greek island with the cunning of an Aegean sorceress, keeping her readers pleasurably unsettled and alert

Adrift on the Canadian frontier: The Voyageur, by Paul Carlucci, reviewed

13 April 2024 9:00 am

Based on the 19th-century ‘voyageur’ Alexis de Martin, Carlucci’s young protagonist is befriended by kindly strangers. But what are their true motives?

London’s dark underbelly: Caledonian Road, by Andrew O’Hagan, reviewed

13 April 2024 9:00 am

With its vast cast and twisting plot, O’Hagan’s complex novel feels as busy and noisy as the north London thoroughfare of its title

The desperate desire to belong: England is Mine, by Nicolas Padamsee, reviewed

6 April 2024 9:00 am

A teenage victim of bullying is gradually drawn into a world of online extremism in this entirely relatable story of the adolescent yearning for acceptance

Turf wars in Las Vegas: City in Ruins, by Don Winslow, reviewed

6 April 2024 9:00 am

The concluding volume of the Danny Ryan trilogy sees the gangster hero involved in a bitter feud over the purchase of a crumbling property on the Las Vegas Strip

Caught in a Venus flytrap: Red Pyramid, by Vladimir Sorokin, reviewed

30 March 2024 9:00 am

Sorokin’s satirical stories are not for the fainthearted, but there are few more dedicated critics of Russia's infinite bureaucracy writing fiction today

A voyage of literary discovery: Clara Reads Proust, by Stéphane Carlier, reviewed

23 March 2024 9:00 am

A 23-year-old hairdresser casually picks up a copy of Swann’s Way left behind by a client – only to find the novel taking over her life