Fiction

Dark days for Britain: London, Burning, by Anthony Quinn, reviewed

17 April 2021 9:00 am

Not long ago, a group of psychologists analysing data about national happiness discovered that the British were at their unhappiest…

Ghosts of the past: The Field, by Robert Seethaler, reviewed

17 April 2021 9:00 am

Give dead bones a voice and they speak volumes: George Saunders’s Lincoln in the Bardo was clamorous with the departed…

A celebration of friendship: Common Ground, by Naomi Ishiguro, reviewed

10 April 2021 9:00 am

Naomi Ishiguro began writing Common Groundin the aftermath of the Brexit referendum. The title refers to both Goshawk Common in…

Problem parents: My Phantoms, by Gwendoline Riley, reviewed

10 April 2021 9:00 am

Gwendoline Riley’s unsentimental fiction hovers on the edge of comedy and bleakness, and has drawn comparisons from Jean Rhys to…

The dictator of the dorm: Our Lady of the Nile, by Scholastique Mukasonga, reviewed

10 April 2021 9:00 am

In the cloud-capped highlands of Rwanda, even the rain-makers sound like crashing snobs. When two teenage pupils from Our Lady…

Man about the house: Kitchenly 434, by Alan Warner, reviewed

3 April 2021 9:00 am

I have enjoyed many of Alan Warner’s previous novels, so it gives me no pleasure to report that his new…

Mommy issues: Milk Fed, by Melissa Broder, reviewed

27 March 2021 9:00 am

This is a novel about ‘mommy issues’. Rachel is a Reform Jew, ‘more Chanel bag Jew than Torah Jew’, and…

Escape from reality: How to Survive Everything, by Ewan Morrison, reviewed

27 March 2021 9:00 am

Ewan Morrison is an intellectually nimble writer with a penchant for provocation. His work has included the novels, Distance, Ménage…

Slanging match: rein GOLD, by Elfriede Jelinek, reviewed

20 March 2021 9:00 am

I’ve tried hard to think of someone I dislike enough to recommend this novel to, but have failed. Elfriede Jelinek…

Celebrating Jesus’s female followers: Names of the Women, by Jeet Thayil, reviewed

20 March 2021 9:00 am

The gnostic Gospel of Mary has long been the subject of controversy, even as to which of the several Marys…

Bright and beautiful: Double Blind, by Edward St Aubyn, reviewed

13 March 2021 9:00 am

Edward St Aubyn’s ‘Patrick Melrose’ novels were loosely autobiographical renderings of the author’s harrowing, rarefied, drug-sozzled existence. Despite their subject…

Two for the road: We Are Not in the World, by Conor O’Callaghan, reviewed

13 March 2021 9:00 am

A father and his estranged 20-year-old daughter set off across France, sharing the driver’s cabin of a long-haul truck. This…

Women of the streets: Hot Stew, by Fiona Mozley, reviewed

13 March 2021 9:00 am

For a novel set partly in a Soho brothel, Hot Stew is an oddly bloodless affair. Tawdry characters drift in…

The robot as carer: Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro, reviewed

6 March 2021 9:00 am

The world of Kazuo Ishiguro’s new novel — let’s call it Ishville — is instantly recognisable. Our narrator, Klara, is…

Savage aperçus: Fake Accounts, by Lauren Oyler, reviewed

27 February 2021 9:00 am

Lauren Oyler is viral and vicious. A critic with a reputation for pulling no punches, she is known for delivering…

Algeria’s War of Independence still leaves festering wounds, two new novels reveal

27 February 2021 9:00 am

In France, even the car horns yelled about Algeria. A five-beat klaxon blast — three short, two long — signalled…

The cannibal feast: Mother for Dinner, by Shalom Auslander, reviewed

13 February 2021 9:00 am

Seventh Seltzer is a nice family man, working as a publisher’s reader in New York, who happens to come from…

A toxic atmosphere: Slough House, by Mick Herron, reviewed

6 February 2021 9:00 am

Mick Herron has been called ‘the John le Carré of his generation’ by the crime writer Val McDermid, and in…

A bubo-busting muckfest: Hurdy Gurdy, by Christopher Wilson, reviewed

6 February 2021 9:00 am

In an essay for Prospect a few years back the writer Leo Benedictus noticed how many contemporary novels used what…

The Generic Asian Man: Interior Chinatown, by Charles Yu, reviewed

23 January 2021 9:00 am

Of the handful of things we can establish about Willis Wu, the protagonist of Charles Yu’s second novel, the most…

Scenes from an open marriage: Luster, by Raven Leilani, reviewed

16 January 2021 9:00 am

One of Barack Obama’s favourite books of 2020, Raven Leilani’s debut comes acclaimed by a literary Who’s Who that includes…

The burden of guilt: The Living Sea of Waking Dreams, by Richard Flanagan, reviewed

16 January 2021 9:00 am

Thanks to the Booker Prize, Richard Flanagan is probably the only Tasmanian novelist British readers are likely to have heard…

House of horrors: Girl A, by Abigail Dean, reviewed

16 January 2021 9:00 am

If the last quarter of 2020 saw a glut of novels published, of which there were winners (Richard Osman) and…

The plight of the evacuee: Asylum Road, by Olivia Sudjic, reviewed

16 January 2021 9:00 am

Olivia Sudjic’s second novel, Asylum Road, is a smart and sensitively layered story that’s told through niggling memories, unspoken thoughts,…

Family secrets: Life Sentences, by Billy O’Callaghan, reviewed

16 January 2021 9:00 am

Despite innovative work by younger writers, there remains a prominent strain in Irish literature of what we might call the…