Fiction

A campus novel with a difference: The Netanyahus, by Joshua Cohen, reviewed

22 May 2021 9:00 am

Dr Benzion Netanyahu’s reputation precedes him. ‘A true genius, who also happens to be a major statesman and political hero,’…

Haunted by the past: Last Days in Cleaver Square, by Patrick McGrath, reviewed

22 May 2021 9:00 am

At the risk of encroaching on Spectator Competition territory, what is the least surprising thing for any given narrator in…

Cairo in crisis: The Republic of False Truths, by Alaa Al Aswany, reviewed

15 May 2021 9:00 am

Certain novels complicate the very notion of literary enjoyment. This, by the author of the international bestseller The Yacoubian Building,…

A funny time to be Irish: The Rules of Revelation, by Lisa McInerney, reviewed

15 May 2021 9:00 am

Lisa McInerney likes the rule of three. Three novels set in Cork structured around sex, drugs and rock’n’roll and, within…

The first Cambridge spy: A Fine Madness, by Alan Judd, reviewed

15 May 2021 9:00 am

For his 15th novel, the espionage writer Alan Judd turns his hand to the mystery of Christopher Marlowe’s death. The…

Hitting the buffers: The Passenger, by Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz, reviewed

15 May 2021 9:00 am

‘They’ll slowly undress us first and then kill us, so our clothes won’t get bloody and our banknotes won’t get…

An independent observer: Whereabouts, by Jhumpa Lahiri, reviewed

8 May 2021 9:00 am

After falling in love with Italy as a young woman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri broke with English and…

Stealing the story: A Lonely Man, by Chris Power, reviewed

8 May 2021 9:00 am

Robert Prowe has writer’s block. An Englishman reaching middle age, he lives in Berlin with his Swedish wife and their…

Water, water everywhere: Touring the Land of the Dead, by Maki Kashimada, reviewed

8 May 2021 9:00 am

Maki Kashimada won the 2012 Akutagawa Prize for Touring the Land of the Dead, the strange, unsettling novella that makes…

Eliminate the positive: Come Join Our Disease, by Sam Byers, reviewed

8 May 2021 9:00 am

Sam Byers’s worryingly zeitgeisty second novel, Perfidious Albion, imagined a post-Brexit dystopia dominated by global tech companies, corrupt spin doctors,…

A meditation on everyday life: Early Morning Riser, by Katherine Heiny, reviewed

1 May 2021 9:00 am

There were many moments in Early Morning Riser that made me laugh out loud in recognition. An episode where the…

Ice and snow and sea and sky: Lean Fall Stand, by Jon McGregor, reviewed

1 May 2021 9:00 am

Jon McGregor has an extraordinary ability to articulate the unspoken through ethereal prose that observes ordinary lives from above without…

Puzzle Pieces: Cowboy Graves, by Roberto Bolaño, reviewed

1 May 2021 9:00 am

This might seem an odd confession, but the work of Roberto Bolaño gives me very good bad dreams. When I…

A study in vulnerability: The Coming Bad Days, by Sarah Bernstein, reviewed

24 April 2021 9:00 am

When the unnamed narrator of Sarah Bernstein’s The Coming Bad Days leaves the man with whom she has been living…

Dark days for Britain: London, Burning, by Anthony Quinn, reviewed

17 April 2021 9:00 am

Not long ago, a group of psychologists analysing data about national happiness discovered that the British were at their unhappiest…

Ghosts of the past: The Field, by Robert Seethaler, reviewed

17 April 2021 9:00 am

Give dead bones a voice and they speak volumes: George Saunders’s Lincoln in the Bardo was clamorous with the departed…

A celebration of friendship: Common Ground, by Naomi Ishiguro, reviewed

10 April 2021 9:00 am

Naomi Ishiguro began writing Common Groundin the aftermath of the Brexit referendum. The title refers to both Goshawk Common in…

Problem parents: My Phantoms, by Gwendoline Riley, reviewed

10 April 2021 9:00 am

Gwendoline Riley’s unsentimental fiction hovers on the edge of comedy and bleakness, and has drawn comparisons from Jean Rhys to…

The dictator of the dorm: Our Lady of the Nile, by Scholastique Mukasonga, reviewed

10 April 2021 9:00 am

In the cloud-capped highlands of Rwanda, even the rain-makers sound like crashing snobs. When two teenage pupils from Our Lady…

Man about the house: Kitchenly 434, by Alan Warner, reviewed

3 April 2021 9:00 am

I have enjoyed many of Alan Warner’s previous novels, so it gives me no pleasure to report that his new…

Mommy issues: Milk Fed, by Melissa Broder, reviewed

27 March 2021 9:00 am

This is a novel about ‘mommy issues’. Rachel is a Reform Jew, ‘more Chanel bag Jew than Torah Jew’, and…

Escape from reality: How to Survive Everything, by Ewan Morrison, reviewed

27 March 2021 9:00 am

Ewan Morrison is an intellectually nimble writer with a penchant for provocation. His work has included the novels, Distance, Ménage…

Slanging match: rein GOLD, by Elfriede Jelinek, reviewed

20 March 2021 9:00 am

I’ve tried hard to think of someone I dislike enough to recommend this novel to, but have failed. Elfriede Jelinek…

Celebrating Jesus’s female followers: Names of the Women, by Jeet Thayil, reviewed

20 March 2021 9:00 am

The gnostic Gospel of Mary has long been the subject of controversy, even as to which of the several Marys…

Bright and beautiful: Double Blind, by Edward St Aubyn, reviewed

13 March 2021 9:00 am

Edward St Aubyn’s ‘Patrick Melrose’ novels were loosely autobiographical renderings of the author’s harrowing, rarefied, drug-sozzled existence. Despite their subject…