Fiction

A blast from the past

9 September 2017 9:00 am

If you had to choose one book that both typified spy fiction and celebrated what the genre was capable of…

Return to the lost city

26 August 2017 9:00 am

During a press interview in Bombay about his latest book, the author-narrator of Friend of My Youth feels ‘a surge…

Rumbles in the jungle

26 August 2017 9:00 am

A CIA agent, a naive young filmmaker, a dilettante heir and a lost Mayan temple form the basis of Ned…

A clash of creeds

12 August 2017 9:00 am

This is a very modern novel. Terrorist atrocity sits side by side with the familiar and the mundane. Where better…

The violence of poverty

12 August 2017 9:00 am

Neel Mukherjee has had a two-handed literary career, working as a reviewer of other people’s novels and writing his own.…

Above and below: From Robin Dalton’s My Relations: ‘My second cousin, Penelope Wood, is an artist, or at least hopes to be one. She is only 16, but she has done some beautiful little paintings. I have one hanging in my room now. It is a landscape and is one she did when only 12 years old’

When mother killed the plumber — and Nellie Melba came round to sing

4 June 2016 9:00 am

Here’s a pair of little books — one even littler than the other — by Robin Dalton (née Eakin), a…

A Christmas parable from the Spectator’s business editor

12 December 2015 9:00 am

  I thought you might enjoy a little parable for Christmas, so here goes… The boardroom clock said twelve minutes…

Ian Rankin’s diary: Paris, ignoring Twitter and understanding evil

21 November 2015 9:00 am

After ten days away, I spent last Friday at home alone, catching up on washing, shopping for cat food, answering…

Umberto Eco really tries our patience

7 November 2015 9:00 am

Colonna, the protagonist of Umberto Eco’s latest novel, is the first to admit he is a loser. A middle-aged literary…

‘I was facing truths I didn’t particularly want to look at’: Michael Moorcock interview

8 August 2015 9:00 am

By the kind of uncanny coincidence that would tickle his psychogeographically minded friends Iain Sinclair and Peter Ackroyd, Michael Moorcock’s…

Suite Francaise review: what is this film playing at, when it comes to Jews in attics?

14 March 2015 9:00 am

Suite Française is being billed as a second world war romance about ‘forbidden love’ and, in this regard, it is…

Sebastian Faulks’s diary: My task for 2015 – get a job

14 February 2015 9:00 am

Just back from Sri Lanka, a place I first went to in 1981. It was then a dreamy island. I…

Life doesn’t care if your misery has a plot – but readers do

24 January 2015 9:00 am

Sometimes writers have to get a memoir out of their system before they can start on their great novel. Will…

Lurid & Cute is too true to its title

24 January 2015 9:00 am

One of the duties of a reviewer is to alert potential readers to the flavour and content of a book,…

A ghost story without the scary bits

24 January 2015 9:00 am

Two men walk into an ice cream parlour in Austin, Texas, order the three teenage girls working there to undress,…

Why you might not want corridors in your historical novel

1 November 2014 9:00 am

I read C.J. Sansom’s novel Dissolution on the train recently with pleasure. For an historical novel narrated in the 1530s,…

L.P. Hartley’s guide to coping with a heatwave

26 July 2014 9:00 am

Those of us who have been struggling to endure the recent heat should turn to L.P. Hartley’s classic coming-of-age novel The…

Jacqueline Wilson: 'The first book that made me cry'

12 April 2014 9:00 am

A foreward to Rumer Godden’s ‘An Episode of Sparrows’ by Jacqueline Wilson. Read Godden’s novel as an adult or a child and you will find a masterpiece

From frankness to obsession - the novels of Francis King

1 March 2014 9:00 am

Gide wrote to Simenon: ‘You are living on a false reputation — just like Baudelaire and Chopin. … You are…

William S. Burroughs was a writer – not a painter, prophet, philosopher

8 February 2014 9:00 am

William S. Burroughs lived his life in the grand transgressive tradition of Lord Byron and Oscar Wilde and, like all…

When No Man's Land is home

25 January 2014 9:00 am

Countless writers and film-makers this year will be trying their hand at forcing us to wake up and smell the…

By the book: The NSA is behaving like a villain in a 1950s novel

18 January 2014 9:00 am

The continuing drip-feed of stories about governments and friendly-seeming internet giants sifting through our data has left some citizens feeling…

Breakdowns, suicide attempts — and four great novels

18 January 2014 9:00 am

Among the clever young Australians who came over here in the 1960s to find themselves and make their mark, a…

The many attempts to assassinate Trotsky

4 January 2014 9:00 am

Leon Trotsky’s grandson, Esteban Volkov, is a retired chemist in his early eighties. I met him not long ago in…

Margaret Drabble tries to lose the plot

30 November 2013 9:00 am

Halfway through her new novel, Margaret Drabble tells us of Anna, the pure gold baby of the title, ‘There was…