Fiction

A master of spy fiction to the end — John Le Carré’s Silverview reviewed

23 October 2021 9:00 am

Literary estates work to preserve a writer’s reputation — and sometimes milk it too. The appearance of this novel by…

God is everywhere, sometimes in strange guises, in Jonathan Franzen’s Crossroads

23 October 2021 9:00 am

Twenty years ago The Corrections alerted a troubled world to the talents of Jonathan Franzen. Though cruel and funny and…

Reassess every relationship you’ve ever had before it’s too late

16 October 2021 9:00 am

‘Reading is a celebration of the mystery of ourselves,’ according to Elizabeth Strout, who writes to help readers understand themselves…

Fiction’s most famous Rifleman returns — and it’s miraculous he’s still alive

9 October 2021 9:00 am

It has been 15 years since the last Richard Sharpe novel, and it’s a pleasure to report that fiction’s most…

Only time will tell if there’ll be a Great Pandemic Novel

9 October 2021 9:00 am

We had been dreading it like (forgive me) the plague: the inevitable onslaught of corona-lit. Fortunately, the first few titles…

Unkindly light: The Morning Star, by Karl Ove Knausgaard, reviewed

2 October 2021 9:00 am

Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle sequence is one of this century’s great projects: an intimate epic in which the overriding…

Mind games: the blurred line between fact and fiction

2 October 2021 9:00 am

Readers of Case Study unfamiliar with its author’s previous work might believe they have stumbled on a great psychotherapy scandal.…

Wrapped up in satire, a serious lesson about the fine line between success and scandal

2 October 2021 9:00 am

Have you heard of champing? Neither had I. Turns out it’s camping in a field beside a deserted church. When…

A 21st-century Holden Caulfield: The Book of Form and Emptiness, by Ruth Ozecki, reviewed

25 September 2021 9:00 am

The world Ruth Ozeki creates in The Book of Form & Emptiness resembles one of the snow globes that pop…

Flight into danger: Freight Dogs, by Giles Foden, reviewed

25 September 2021 9:00 am

Flying has always attracted chancers and characters to Africa. Wilbur Smith’s father so loved aviation he named his son to…

Thoroughly modern Marie: Matrix, by Lauren Groff, reviewed

25 September 2021 9:00 am

It is 1158. A 17-year-old girl, born of both rape and royal blood, is cast out of the French court…

The secret life of Thomas Mann: The Magician, by Colm Tóibín, reviewed

18 September 2021 9:00 am

In a letter to Stephen Spender, W.H. Auden, who had married Thomas Mann’s daughter Erika sight unseen in order to…

Is there intelligent life on other planets?: Bewilderment, by Richard Powers, reviewed

18 September 2021 9:00 am

We open with Theo, our narrator, and Robin, his son, looking at the night sky through a telescope. ‘Darkness this…

Irish quartet: Beautiful World, Where Are You?, by Sally Rooney, reviewed

11 September 2021 9:00 am

The millennial generation of Irish novelists lays great store by loving relationships. One of the encomia on the cover of…

Lost to addiction: Loved and Missed, by Susie Boyt, reviewed

11 September 2021 9:00 am

Ruth, the narrator of Susie Boyt’s seventh novel, is both the child of a single mother and a single mother…

A race against time: A Calling for Charlie Barnes, by Joshua Ferris, reviewed

11 September 2021 9:00 am

What is life if not a quest to find one’s calling while massaging the narrative along the way? This question…

War between Heaven and Hell: The Absolute Book, by Elizabeth Knox, reviewed

28 August 2021 9:00 am

Ursula Le Guin once described speculative fiction as ‘a great heavy sack of stuff, a carrier bag full of wimps…

First love: The Inseparables, by Simone de Beauvoir, reviewed

28 August 2021 9:00 am

‘Newly discovered novel’ can be a discouraging phrase. Sure, some writers leave works of extraordinary calibre lurking among their effects…

Interpreting for a dictator: Intimacies, by Katie Kitamura, reviewed

21 August 2021 9:00 am

If this is a cautious and circumspect novel, it’s because it involves a cautious and circumspect job: that of interpreter.…

Glasgow gangsters: 1979, by Val McDermid, reviewed

21 August 2021 9:00 am

Like a basking shark, Val McDermid once remarked, a crime series needs to keep moving or die. The same could…

Startlingly sadistic: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, by Quentin Tarantino, reviewed

7 August 2021 9:00 am

There’s no doubt that Quentin Tarantino is a movie director of brilliance, if not genius. But can he write? Well…

Gay abandon: Filthy Animals, by Brandon Taylor, reviewed

7 August 2021 9:00 am

What does it mean to be a body in this world? It’s the question animating Brandon Taylor’s Filthy Animals. Our…

Funeral gatecrasher: The Black Dress, by Deborah Moggach, reviewed

7 August 2021 9:00 am

Here is a rare dud from the usually reliable Deborah Moggach. Her protagonist, Pru, finds herself alone at 69 after…

Death and dishonour: The Promise, by Damon Galgut, reviewed

31 July 2021 9:00 am

If death is not an event in life, as Wittgenstein observed, it’s a curious way to structure a novel. But…

The book as narrator: The Pages, by Hugo Hamilton, reviewed

31 July 2021 9:00 am

It is a truism that a book needs readers in order to have a meaningful existence. Hugo Hamilton’s The Pages…