fri 03/07/2020

book reviews and features

Jenny Offill: Weather review - the low hum of misgiving

Jessica Payn

Neatly contained, truncated by decisive white space, Jenny Offill’s paragraphs – they have been called “fragments” and even “stanzas” – might be the first thing you notice about Weather,...

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Sophy Roberts: The Lost Pianos of Siberia review - a distant musical journey

Tom Birchenough

For travellers, “music is a passport, especially in Russia…” Borrowing an adage from the British diplomat Thomas...

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Francesca Wade: Square Haunting - Bloomsbury retold

Florence Hallett

These days, Bloomsbury rests in a state of elegant somnolence. The ghosts of...

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Kapka Kassabova: To the Lake review - Macedonia's lacustrine heart

Jessica Payn

To the Lake, Kassabova titles this book, but the journey it unfolds tells of not one ancient lake but two: “twins” Ohrid and Prespa, the Lake of Light and the Vale of Snow; these siblings...

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Tomasz Jedrowski: Swimming in the Dark review – of hypocrisy, both personal and systemic

Daniel Lewis

Conjuring up nostalgia for a past readers never had is, perhaps, the litmus test for any good coming-of-age story. Writers have the hard task of making the general particular – because growing up...

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Albert Costa: The Bilingual Brain review – double-talking heads and what they tell us

Boyd Tonkin

Those of us who have to toil and sweat with other languages often feel a twinge of envy when we meet truly bilingual folk. That ability to switch codes, seemingly without any fuss, must confer so...

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Clemens Meyer: Dark Satellites review - eccentric orbits

James Dowsett

In Clemens Meyer’s new collection of short stories Dark Satellites (translated from German by Kate...

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Ilya Kaminsky: Deaf Republic - silence as 'a soul's noise'

Jessica Payn

"The deaf don’t believe in silence. Silence is the invention of the hearing." This is one of two author’s "Notes" to Ilya Kaminsky’s latest...

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Jeet Thayil: Low – grief’s seedy distractions

Daniel Lewis

Like many writers, Jeet Thayil is a bit of an outsider. And, if his track record is anything to go by, he has been happy to keep it that way. The poet,...

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Deborah Orr: Motherwell review - memoir, but so much more

India Lewis

Published in the year following Orr’s death at the age of 57, Motherwell is an analysis of the author’s ...

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