Fiction

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…

A very tangled web: Liar, by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, reviewed

4 May 2019 9:00 am

The Hebrew word for ‘truth’ – see above left  (emet) is comprised of the first, middle and last letters of…

Satirising the global society: Only Americans Burn in Hell, by Jarett Kobek, reviewed

4 May 2019 9:00 am

An immortal faery queen from a magical gynocratic island arrives in Los Angeles to track down her missing daughter. This…

An outsider inside: We, The Survivors, by Tash Aw, reviewed

27 April 2019 9:00 am

It’s not immediately obvious who the survivors in Tash Aw’s formidable new novel are, or who the narrator even is,…

Toy boy: Machines Like Me, by Ian McEwan, reviewed

13 April 2019 9:00 am

What kind of loyalty do we owe a robot we’ve paid for — one who exhibits a convincingly human kind…

The Bears v. the Rabbits: The Feral Detective, by Jonathan Lethem, reviewed

6 April 2019 9:00 am

Jonathan Lethem’s new book is billed as ‘his first detective novel since Motherless Brooklyn’, which won America’s national book critics…

Barefoot in the park: Tokyo Ueno Station, by Yu Miri, reviewed

6 April 2019 9:00 am

In 1923, an earthquake with a magnitude of 9 struck Tokyo and Yokohama. A huge area of Tokyo burned. But,…

Philip Kerr, photographed in Paris in 2012. Credit: Getty Images

Farewell Bernie Gunther: Metropolis, by Philip Kerr, reviewed

30 March 2019 9:00 am

Philip Kerr’s first Bernie Gunther novel, March Violets, was published 30 years ago. From the start, the format was a…

The cruise of a lifetime: Proleterka, by Fleur Jaeggy, reviewed

30 March 2019 9:00 am

Near the start of Fleur Jaeggy’s extraordinary novel Proleterka, the unnamed narrator reflects: ‘Children lose interest in their parents when…

Nina Stibbe. Credit: Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi

Further adventures of a dysfunctional family: Reasons to be Cheerful, by Nina Stibbe, reviewed

23 March 2019 9:00 am

My ex-dentist resembled a potato wearing a Patek Phillipe. In those precious moments between the golf course and the cruise…

Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Credit: Rex Features

Missive from a living fossil: Little Boy, by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, reviewed

23 March 2019 9:00 am

In his adopted city of San Francisco, the poet, publisher and painter Lawrence Ferlinghetti is venerated to levels nearing those…

In the pavilion of fun: Bowlaway, by Elizabeth McCracken, reviewed

23 March 2019 9:00 am

Bowlaway, Elizabeth McCracken’s first novel in 18 years, is a great American candy-colour Buddenbrooks, a multi-generational epic spanning almost 100…

Marlon James

Tolkien in Africa: Black Leopard Red Wolf, by Marlon James, reviewed

23 February 2019 9:00 am

Anyone who has issues with Tolkien (at 16, even in a suitably ‘altered state’, I could not finish The Hobbit,…

An island’s dark secrets: The Tempest, by Steve Sem-Sandberg, reviewed

9 February 2019 9:00 am

‘I should not have gone back to the island but I did it all the same.’ So begins the Swedish…

Shakespeare on the beach: Oh I Do Like to Be…, by Marie Phillips, reviewed

9 February 2019 9:00 am

The phrase ‘Shakespeare comedy’ is an oxymoron with a long pedigree, one which perhaps stretches back to the late 16th…

Maggie Gee. Credit: Nick Rankin

Cycle of violence: Blood, by Maggie Gee, reviewed

2 February 2019 9:00 am

Maggie Gee has written 14 novels including The White Family, which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize (now the Women’s…

Credit: Alamy

Beware the female stalker: Dream Sequence, by Adam Foulds, reviewed

26 January 2019 9:00 am

Adam Foulds’s fourth novel, Dream Sequence, is an exquisitely concocted, riveting account of artistic ambition and unrequited love verging on…

Credit: Getty Images

The ghostly Thames: Once Upon a River, by Diane Setterfield, reviewed

26 January 2019 9:00 am

While its shape is famous — prominent on maps of London and Oxford — the Thames is ‘unmappable’, according to…

Lost in allegory: The Wall, by John Lanchester, reviewed

19 January 2019 9:00 am

Dystopian fiction continues to throng the bookshelves, for all the world as though we weren’t living in a dystopia already,…

Yoko Ono in the Dakota building, on the first anniversary of John Lennon’s murder. Credit: Getty Images

Partying with John and Yoko: The Dakota Winters, by Tom Barbash, reviewed

12 January 2019 9:00 am

Tom Barbash’s dark and humorous second novel takes a risk by combining invented and real characters. I feared nagging doubts…

Credit: Getty Images

Nazi caricatures: The Order of the Day, by Éric Vuillard, reviewed

12 January 2019 9:00 am

There was a time when you read French literary novels in order to cultivate a certain kind of sophisticated suspicion.…

Credit: Getty Images

Love in a time of people-trafficking: Among the Lost, by Emiliano Monge, reviewed

12 January 2019 9:00 am

From the very first pages of Among the Lost, we’re engaged, and compromised. Estela and Epitafio are our main anchors,…

Chigozie Obioma. Credit: Jason Keith.

An Igbo Paradise Lost: An Orchestra of Minorities, by Chigozie Obioma, reviewed

12 January 2019 9:00 am

Nurture hatred in your heart and you will keep ‘an unfed tiger in a house full of children’. A man…

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Life and death in 1970s Belfast: For the Good Times, by David Keenan, reviewed

12 January 2019 9:00 am

David Keenan’s debut novel, This is Memorial Device, about a small town in Lanarkshire and its post-punk scene, showed that…