Fiction

Snafu at Slough House: Bad Actors, by Mick Herron, reviewed

14 May 2022 9:00 am

Reviewers who make fancy claims for genre novels tend to sound like needy show-offs or hard-of-thinking dolts. So be it:…

A bitter sectarian divide: Young Mungo, by Douglas Stuart, reviewed

14 May 2022 9:00 am

Douglas Stuart has a rare gift. The Scottish writer, whose debut novel Shuggie Bain deservedly won the 2020 Booker Prize,…

Messy family matters: Bad Relations, by Cressida Connolly, reviewed

14 May 2022 9:00 am

Cressida Connolly’s new novel begins with a couple of endings. It’s spring 1855, and on the battlefields of the Crimea…

Patterns in the grass: The Perfect Golden Circle, by Benjamin Myers, reviewed

14 May 2022 9:00 am

The Perfect Golden Circle is ostensibly about male friendship. Two men, flotsam of the 1980s – Calvert, a Falklands veteran,…

A visit from Neanderthals: The Red Children, by Maggie Gee, reviewed

7 May 2022 9:00 am

This is the kind of novel that will be discussed jubilantly in the book clubs of places like Lib Dem…

Murder, suicide and apocalypse: Here Goes Nothing, by Steve Toltz, reviewed

30 April 2022 9:00 am

Angus Mooney is dead. Freshly murdered, he’s appalled to find himself in an Afterworld, having always rejected the possibility of…

Momentous decisions: Ruth & Pen, by Emilie Pine, reviewed

30 April 2022 9:00 am

Emilie Pine writes about the big things and the little things: friendship, love, fertility, grief; waking, showering, catching the bus.…

Boy wonder: The Young Pretender, by Michael Arditti, reviewed

30 April 2022 9:00 am

During his brief stage career Master Betty, or the Young Roscius, was no stranger to superlatives: genius, unparalleled, superior, Albion’s…

Memory test: The Candy House, by Jennifer Egan, reviewed

23 April 2022 9:00 am

On page 231 of The Candy House, a sequel – no, a ‘sibling’ says Jennifer Egan – to the Pulitzer…

A tale of forbidden love: Trespasses, by Louise Kennedy, reviewed

23 April 2022 9:00 am

Kenneth Branagh’s Oscar-winning recent film Belfast chronicles the travails of a Protestant family amid sectarian conflict in 1969. Louise Kennedy’s…

Seeing and being seen: Wet Paint, by Chloë Ashby, reviewed

16 April 2022 9:00 am

In this arresting debut novel we follow 26-year-old Eve as she tries to come to terms with the loss of…

An inspirational teacher: Elizabeth Finch, by Julian Barnes, reviewed

9 April 2022 9:00 am

‘Whenever you see a character in a novel, let alone a biography or history book, reduced and neatened into three…

Zimbabwe’s politics satirised: Glory, by NoViolet Bulawayo, reviewed

2 April 2022 9:00 am

NoViolet Bulawayo’s first novel We Need New Names,shortlisted for the Booker in 2013, was a charming, tender gem, suffused with…

The parent snatchers: The School for Good Mothers, by Jessamine Chan, reviewed

2 April 2022 9:00 am

Frida Liu, the 39-year-old mother of a toddler named Harriet, has a very bad day which will haunt her for…

The Belfast Blitz: These Days, by Lucy Caldwell, reviewed

19 March 2022 9:00 am

Caught outside at the start of a raid in the Belfast Blitz as the incendiary bombs rain down, Audrey looks…

Portrait of a domestic tyrant: The Exhibitionist, by Charlotte Mendelson, reviewed

19 March 2022 9:00 am

If vivid, drily hilarious tales about messy families stuffed with passive aggression and seething resentment are your thing, you will…

Knotty problems: French Braid, by Anne Tyler, reviewed

19 March 2022 9:00 am

Anne Tyler’s 24th novel French Braid opens in 2010 in Philadelphia train station. We find the teenage Serena, who has…

Lasting infamy: Booth, by Karen Joy Fowler, reviewed

12 March 2022 9:00 am

Were it not for an event on the night of 14 April 1865, John Wilkes Booth would be remembered, if…

A magical epic: Moon Witch, Spider King, by Marlon James, reviewed

12 March 2022 9:00 am

When the first volume of Marlon James’s Dark Star trilogy appeared in 2019, it was quickly recognised as a masterly…

The making of a poet: Mother’s Boy, by Patrick Gale, reviewed

5 March 2022 9:00 am

Charles Causley was a poet’s poet. Both Ted Hughes and Philip Larkin considered him the finest candidate for the laureateship,…

Troubles of the past: The Slowworm’s Song, by Andrew Miller, reviewed

5 March 2022 9:00 am

Andrew Miller specialises in characters who are lost, often struggling to deal with the burden of failure. They don’t come…

That sinking feeling: The Swimmers, by Julie Otsuka, reviewed

26 February 2022 9:00 am

Julie Otsuka has good rhythm, sentences that move to a satisfying beat. Even as her tone shifts — from tender…

Inside New India: Run and Hide, by Pankaj Mishra, reviewed

19 February 2022 9:00 am

The first novel in more than 20 years from the essayist and cultural analyst Pankaj Mishra is as sharp, provocative…

Lonely voices: Dance Move, by Wendy Erskine, reviewed

12 February 2022 9:00 am

‘The drawer beside Roberta’s bed contained remnants of other people’s fun’: so begins ‘Mathematics’, one of 11 stories in this…

Both epic and intimate: The Love Songs of W.E. Du Bois, by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, reviewed

5 February 2022 9:00 am

To write a first novel of 800 pages is either supremely confident or crazy. Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, a professor of…