Fiction

Ian McEwan’s anti-Brexit satire is a damp squib

5 October 2019 9:00 am

Kafka wrote a novella, The Metamorphosis, about a man who finds himself transformed into a beetle. Now Ian McEwan has…

Jessie Burton’s The Confession is, frankly, a bit heavy-handed

5 October 2019 9:00 am

Jessie Burton is famous for her million-copy bestselling debut novel The Miniaturist, which she followed with The Muse. Now she’s…

Ann Patchett’s The Dutch House is even better on second reading

5 October 2019 9:00 am

Having a saint in the family is dreadful, They’re often absent, either literally or emotionally, and because they’re always thinking…

As Lyra grows up, Philip Pullman’s materials grow darker

5 October 2019 9:00 am

Two years after Philip Pullman published La Belle Sauvage, the prequel to His Dark Materials trilogy, we have its long-awaited…

An uncanny gift for prophecy — the genius of Michel Houellebecq

28 September 2019 9:00 am

The backdrop of Michel Houellebecq’s novel is by now well established. In this — his eighth — the bleak, essentially…

Haunted by a black cat: Earwig, by Brian Catling, reviewed

28 September 2019 9:00 am

Genuinely surrealist novels are as rare as hen’s teeth. They are a different form from the magic realist, the absurdist,…

A novel take on the Western: Inland, by Téa Obreht, reviewed

17 August 2019 9:00 am

Téa Obreht’s second novel is an expansive and ambitious subversion of Western tropes, set in fin de siècle America. We…

A child’s-eye view of the world: The Curse of the School Rabbit, by Judith Kerr, reviewed

10 August 2019 9:00 am

Is there a more perfect children’s writer for this generation than Judith Kerr? She started with a tiger — The…

Eternal truths: Night Boat to Tangier, by Kevin Barry, reviewed

10 August 2019 9:00 am

It lives in me still, the intense thrill when, as a child, I would listen to the Irish people around…

Washed up in Istanbul: 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World, by Elif Shafak, reviewed

13 July 2019 9:00 am

Elif Shafak once described Istanbul as a set of matryoshka dolls: a place where anything was possible. As with much…

Star-crossed lovers: Sweet Sorrow, by David Nicholls, reviewed

13 July 2019 9:00 am

The 16-year-old hero of David Nicholls’s fifth novel is ostensibly Everyboy. It is June 1997, the last day at dreary…

At long last love: Live a Little, by Howard Jacobson, reviewed

13 July 2019 9:00 am

Towards the end of Live a Little, one of its two main characters says: ‘I’m past the age of waiting…

Savagery in the Cape Colony: Red Dog, by Willem Anker, reviewed

6 July 2019 9:00 am

Red Dog is an ambitious hybrid of a book. It was published in South Africa to wide acclaim in 2014…

Haunting short stories of fear and frustration

6 July 2019 9:00 am

In Nicole Flattery’s Show Them a Good Time (Bloomsbury, £14.99), her female protagonists grapple with abusive relationships, degree courses, difficult…

Beauty on the beach: Isolde, by Irina Odoevtseva, reviewed

6 July 2019 9:00 am

France was to blame. Yes, France was most definitely to blame. He was never like this at home. So thinks…

A novel about depression that doesn’t depress: Starling Days, by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, reviewed

6 July 2019 9:00 am

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan has achieved that rare feat, in her second novel Starling Days, of writing a convincing novel about…

An education in love: City of Girls, by Elizabeth Gilbert, reviewed

22 June 2019 9:00 am

One of the chief regrets of book-loving women of my age — and a surprising number of men — is…

Mystery in the Sundarbans: Gun Island, by Amitav Ghosh, reviewed

15 June 2019 9:00 am

Meet Deen Datta, a nervous, practical and cautious man, born and brought up in Calcutta, who now lives in Brooklyn,…

Nights at the Lyceum: Shadowplay, by Joseph O’Connor, reviewed

8 June 2019 9:00 am

‘I am very, very pleased,’ murmured Queen Victoria in 1895, when she dubbed Henry Irving, Britain’s first theatrical knight. He…

Gen Xers v. Millennials: White, by Bret Easton Ellis, reviewed

1 June 2019 9:00 am

Q: What’s worse than listening to someone ranting hysterically about Donald Trump? A: Listening to Bret Easton Ellis ranting hysterically…

Sandra Newman. Credit: George Baier

Parallel worlds: The Heavens, by Sandra Newman, reviewed

18 May 2019 9:00 am

The Heavens is Sandra Newman’s eighth book. It follows novels featuring, variously, sex addiction, Buddhism and a post-apocalyptic teen dystopia;…

Credit: Robin Hill

Gothic extremes of human cruelty: Cari Mora, by Thomas Harris, reviewed

18 May 2019 9:00 am

It has been 13 years since Thomas Harris published a novel, and the last time he published one without Hannibal…

Will Wiles. Credit: Marcus Ross

Who needs psychogeography? Plume, by Will Wiles, reviewed

11 May 2019 9:00 am

With his first novel about looking after an engineered wood floor, and a second novel about what it is like…

Is there no end to the retelling of classical myths?

11 May 2019 9:00 am

In the past few years there has been a flourishing of literary responses to the Trojan war. To mention a…

A hero of the Franco era: Lord of All the Dead, by Javier Cercas, reviewed

11 May 2019 9:00 am

Who is a hero? Javier Cercas, in his 2001 novel Soldiers of Salamis, asked the question, searching for an anonymous…