mon 18/12/2017

fiction

Jonathan Coe: The Broken Mirror review - potent, crystalline, but rather small

Novelist Jonathan Coe has, for some time, been assuming the role of an Evelyn Waugh of the left. Brilliant early comedies about education, journalism, and power have made way for longer, deeper, but arguably somewhat lugubrious, almost mystical...

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Susie Boyt: Love & Fame review - as highly strung as a violin factory

At first glance, Susie Boyt’s sixth novel seems in danger of echoing her half-sister Esther Freud’s Lucky Break, another story about actors. But how unfair – of course Love and Fame has its own distinctive, witty brilliance. Eve Swift comes...

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Philip Pullman: La Belle Sauvage review - not quite equal

La Belle Sauvage, the first instalment of Philip Pullman’s eagerly-awaited new trilogy The Book of Dust, opens in the Trout, a rambling Thames-side pub on the outskirts of Port Meadow, north of Oxford. Here all kinds drink: scholars, labourers,...

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Alan Hollinghurst: The Sparsholt Affair - pictures at an exhibition, with telling gaps

Television has paid its dues to the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act - rather feebly, with some rotten acting, in Man in an Orange Shirt; brilliantly, with mostly superb performances, in the monologue sequence Queers, surely due a second...

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Orhan Pamuk: Istanbul, Memories and the City review – a masterpiece upgraded

Along with Balzac’s Paris and Dickens’s London, Orhan Pamuk’s Istanbul now ranks as one of the most illustrious author-trademarked cities in literary history. Yet, as Turkey’s Nobel laureate told me during a Southbank Centre interview last month, he...

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Robert Harris: Munich review - reselling Hitler

Robert Harris’s first book about Hitler told the story of the hoax diaries which seduced Rupert Murdoch and Hugh Trevor-Roper. After Selling Hitler (1986) came Fatherland (1992), another fake story about the Führer. In that alternative history the...

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Jason Webster: Fatal Sunset review - more flavoursome crime in Valencia

The sixth in a series of crime novels that began in 2011 with Or the Bull Kills You and which introduced readers to Chief Inspector Max Cámara, Fatal Sunset opens with our anarchistic hero summoned to see Rita Hernández, newly installed Commissioner...

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Emma Dibdin: 'Being scared of something is a sign you should write about it'

When I began writing my first novel four years ago, there were a few ideas that had coalesced in my mind. I knew I wanted to write a thriller about mental illness through the eyes of a young woman whose family had been defined by it; someone...

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Lisa Jewell: 'I’d never killed anyone before'

I started writing my first novel in 1995. I was 27 and I’d just come out of a dark, dark marriage to a controlling man who’d kept me more or less locked away from the world. I had no front door key, no phone, was not allowed to see my friends or my...

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Peter Høeg: The Susan Effect review - Nordic noir turns surreal

Peter Høeg is still overwhelmingly known for a novel published a quarter of a century ago. Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow featured a half-Inuit woman whose suspicion over a young neighbour’s death in Copenhagen lures her from Denmark back to...

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Sarah Hall: Madame Zero review – eerie tales of calamity and change

Five thousand miles away from her native Lake District, I first understood the eerie magnetism of Sarah Hall’s fiction. As a regional judge for the Commonwealth Writers Prize, I’d travelled to join the jury’s deliberations in Sri Lanka. I was keen...

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Michael Connelly: The Late Show review - mesmerising and believable characters

Readers have been committed fans since 1992, when the sometime crime reporter Michael Connelly turned novelist. Connelly’s best-known sequence has featured, over three decades now, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) detective Hieronymus Bosch...

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