Fiction

Full of desperate longing: Unquiet, by Linn Ullmann, reviewed

3 October 2020 9:00 am

The scrawny little girl with ‘pipe-cleaner legs’ wants to feel at home with her parents. But father and mother live…

Tenderness and sorrow: Inside Story, by Martin Amis, reviewed

26 September 2020 9:00 am

Inside Story is called, on the front cover, which boasts a very charming photograph of the author and Christopher Hitchens,…

A dazzling fable about loneliness: Piranesi, by Susanna Clarke, reviewed

19 September 2020 9:00 am

Susanna Clarke is a member of the elite group of authors who don’t write enough. In 2004, the bestselling debut…

Family secrets: Love Orange, by Natasha Randall, reviewed

19 September 2020 9:00 am

The line between obsession and addiction is as thin as rolling paper. Neither are simple and both stem from absence,…

Gay abandon: Islands of Mercy, by Rose Tremain, reviewed

12 September 2020 9:00 am

Rose Tremain has followed her masterly The Gustav Sonata with an altogether different novel. In 1865, Clorinda Morrissey, a 38-year-old…

Primal longing: Blue Ticket, by Sophie Macintosh, reviewed

12 September 2020 9:00 am

Sophie Macintosh’s Blue Ticket is not classic feminist dystopia. Yes, it is concerned with legislated fertility, a world where women’s…

Forlorn Plorn: The Dickens Boy, by Thomas Keneally, reviewed

5 September 2020 9:00 am

Parents are always terrified of bad family history repeating itself. Prince Albert dreaded his son Bertie turning into a roué…

Portrait of a paranoiac: Death in Her Hands, by Ottessa Moshfegh, reviewed

5 September 2020 9:00 am

Like Ottessa Moshfegh’s first novel Eileen (2015), Death in Her Hands plays with the conventions of noir. Vesta Gul, a…

My dazzling chum: Mayflies, by Andrew O’Hagan, reviewed

29 August 2020 9:00 am

Presumably because a small part of it takes place in Salford, the epigraph to Andrew O’Hagan’s latest novel consists of…

A story without redemption: The Lying Life of Adults, by Elena Ferrante, reviewed

29 August 2020 9:00 am

‘I don’t at all hate lies,’ Elena Ferrante explained in Frantumaglia, her manifesto for authorial anonymity. ‘I find them useful…

Bombs over London: V for Victory, by Lissa Evans, reviewed

22 August 2020 9:00 am

Lissa Evans has been single-handedly rescuing the Hampstead novel from its reputation of being preoccupied by pretension and middle-class morality.…

A rainy day in the Highlands: Summerwater, by Sarah Moss, reviewed

22 August 2020 9:00 am

There is an old Yorkshire tale about a prosperous town which, legend has it, once stood on the site of…

Who is telling the truth in Kate Reed Petty’s True Story?

15 August 2020 9:00 am

This debut novel, which opens with ‘a high- school lacrosse party in 1999 and the rumour of a sexual assault,’…

A toast to brotherhood: Summer, by Ali Smith, reviewed

15 August 2020 9:00 am

The concluding novel of Ali Smith’s seasonal quartet is a family affair. Her intergenerational group of seeming strangers from the…

Private tragedies: Must I Go, by Yiyun Li, reviewed

15 August 2020 9:00 am

I can think of few novels as bleak or dispiriting as Yiyun Li’s 2009 debut, The Vagrants. Set in a…

Unreliable memories: Laura Laura, by Richard Francis, reviewed

15 August 2020 9:00 am

Just imagine: you reach a certain age and you become your own unreliable narrator. Gerald Walker, the protagonist of Richard…

A tide of paranoid distrust: The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again, by M. John Harrison, reviewed

8 August 2020 9:00 am

Over the past 50 years, M. John Harrison has produced a remarkably varied body of work: a dozen atmospheric novels…

Poetic miniatures: A Lover’s Discourse, by Xiaolu Guo, reviewed

8 August 2020 9:00 am

The novelist, memoirist and film-maker Xiaolu Guo writes with tremendous delicacy and nuance about migration, language, alienation, and love. A…

Stockholm syndrome: The Family Clause, by Jonas Hassen Khemiri, reviewed

1 August 2020 9:00 am

Some faint hearts may sink at the idea of a torrid Swedish family drama peopled with nameless figures identified only…

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…