Fiction

Oxford skulduggery: The Sandpit, by Nicholas Shakespeare, reviewed

25 July 2020 9:00 am

Melancholy pervades this novel: a sense of glasses considerably more than half empty, with the levels sinking fast. This is…

Sad and beautiful: The Dear Departed, by Brian Moore, reviewed

25 July 2020 9:00 am

Short story writers often find it irksome to be asked when the novel is coming out, as though their work…

His latest disturbing short stories show Richard Ford very much on song

18 July 2020 9:00 am

Sorry For Your Trouble (Bloomsbury, £16.99), Richard Ford’s 13th book of fiction, shows a writer still very much on song.…

False pretences: No-Signal Area, by Robert Perisic, reviewed

18 July 2020 9:00 am

A journalist and poet based in Zagreb, Robert Perišic was in his early twenties when the socialist federal republic of…

Dark secrets: The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett, reviewed

18 July 2020 9:00 am

Passé Blanc is the Creole expression — widely used in the US — for black people ‘passing for white’ to…

The Sixties vibe: Utopia Avenue, by David Mitchell, reviewed

11 July 2020 9:00 am

There aren’t many authors as generous to their readers as David Mitchell. Ever since Ghostwritten in 1999, he’s specialised in…

Spotting the mountweazels: The Liar’s Dictionary, by Eley Williams, reviewed

11 July 2020 9:00 am

There is a particular sub-genre of books which are witty and erudite, comic and serious and often of a bibliophilic…

Let’s swap murders: Amanda Craig’s The Golden Rule reviewed

4 July 2020 9:00 am

It has been three years since Amanda Craig’s previous novel, The Lie of the Land, the story of a foundering…

The attraction of repulsion: The Disaster Tourist, by Yun-Ko Eun, reviewed

4 July 2020 9:00 am

Disaster tourism allows people to explore places in the aftermath of natural and man-made disasters. Sites of massacres and concentration…

A panoramic novel of modern Britain: The Blind Light, by Stuart Evers, reviewed

27 June 2020 9:00 am

A decade ago — eheu fugaces labuntur anni — Stuart Evers’s debut story collection, Ten Stories About Smoking, was one…

A Chaucerian tale: Pilgrims, by Matthew Kneale, reviewed

20 June 2020 9:00 am

Matthew Kneale is much drawn to people of the past. In his award-winning English Passengers, he captured the sensibilities of…

The cure becomes the problem: The Seduction, by Joanna Briscoe, reviewed

13 June 2020 9:00 am

Beth, the protagonist of Joanna Briscoe’s The Seduction, reminded me of Clare in Tessa Hadley’s debut, Accidents in the Home.…

Northern noir: The Mating Habits of Stags, by Ray Robinson, reviewed

13 June 2020 9:00 am

It is winter in north Yorkshire. On the brink of New Year, Jake, a laconic, isolated former farmhand in his…

The fitness fetish: The Motion of the Body Through Space, by Lionel Shriver, reviewed

13 June 2020 9:00 am

In her 2010 novel So Much for That, Lionel Shriver examined the American healthcare system with a spiky sensitivity. Big…

A ponderous parable for our times: The Wondrous and Tragic Life of Ivan and Ivana

6 June 2020 9:00 am

Twins are literary dynamite. For writers, they’re perfect for thrashing out notions of free will, the pinballing of cause and…

The sorrows of young Hillary: Rodham, by Curtis Sittenfeld, reviewed

23 May 2020 9:00 am

Question: which American president and first lady would you care to imagine having intercourse? If that provokes a shudder, be…

stacey abrams

The Stacey Abrams presidency

20 May 2020 2:26 am

‘You don’t run for second place.’ That’s how Stacey Abrams responded when asked if she would consider being presidential hopeful…

From blue to pink: Looking for Eliza, by Leaf Arbuthnot, reviewed

16 May 2020 9:00 am

On the way back from my daily dawn march in the park, I often pass my neighbour, a distinguished gentleman…

Another alien in our midst: Pew, by Catherine Lacey, reviewed

9 May 2020 9:00 am

It needs authorial guts to write a novel in which details are shrouded, meaning is concealed and little is certain.…

The art of negotiation: Peace Talks, by Tim Finch, reviewed

9 May 2020 9:00 am

Early on in Tim Finch’s hypnotic novel Peace Talks, the narrator — the diplomat Edvard Behrends, who facilitates international peace…

Sadness and scandal: Hinton, by Mark Blacklock, reviewed

2 May 2020 9:00 am

In 1886 the British mathematician and schoolmaster Charles Howard Hinton presented himself to the police at Bow Street, London to…

A Wiltshire mystery: A Saint in Swindon, by Alice Jolly, reviewed

2 May 2020 9:00 am

This novella is suited to our fevered times. Scheduled to coincide with the Swindon spring festival of literature, now cancelled,…

Guilty pleasures that fail to satisfy: Cleanness, by Garth Greenwell, reviewed

25 April 2020 9:00 am

In Henry and June, Anaïs Nin asks her cousin Eduardo if one can be freed of a desire by experiencing…

Mysteries of English village life: Creeping Jenny, by Jeff Noon, reviewed

18 April 2020 9:00 am

I doubt whether any book would entice me more than a horrible hybrid of crimefiction, speculative fantasy, weird religion and…

The dirt on King David: Anointed, by Michael Arditti, reviewed

18 April 2020 9:00 am

Michael Arditti has never held back from difficult or unfashionable subjects. His dozen novels, including the prize-winning Easter, as well…