thu 13/05/2021

fiction

Sunjeev Sahota: China Room review - separate, related lives

China Room, Sunjeev Sahota’s third novel, is a familiar, ancestral tale: the story of Mehar, living in late 1929 in rural Punjab, is narrated alongside that of her unnamed descendant in 1999, who has grown up in England. Despite the hardships...

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Lucy Caldwell: Intimacies review - exploring the empty spaces

In the first short story of Lucy Caldwell’s collection Intimacies, “Like This”, one of the worst possible things that could ever happen to a parent occurs. On the spur of a stressful moment in a café, an overloaded mother takes her screaming toddler...

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Andrea Bajani: If You Kept a Record of Sins review - where blame, grief and discovery meet

“I think it happened to you, too, the first time you arrived.” So begins Andrea Bajani’s second novel (Se consideri le colpe, 2007), recently translated from Italian by Elizabeth Harris, with the narrator’s characteristic reserve. “You”, that...

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Edward St Aubyn: Double Blind review - constructing 'cognition literature'

If it weren’t for the warning on the blurb, the first chapter of Double Blind would have you wondering whether you’d ordered something from the science section by mistake. It's a novel that throws its reader in at the deep end, where that end is...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Amina Cain on her first novel and her eternal fascination with suggestion

Amina Cain is a writer of near-naked spaces and roomy characters. Her debut collection of short fiction, I Go To Some Hollow (Les Figues, 2009), located itself in the potential strangeness of everyday thoughts and experience. Her second, Creature (...

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Alice Ash: Paradise Block review - a matrix-like collection that reinvents the short story genre

“Burglar alarms jangled through the empty hallways of Paradise Block.” In this ramshackle, lonely tenement, such alarms might be one’s only company. Yet, in this intricate collection of short stories, the inhabitants’ lives intertwine. Alice Ash’s...

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Raven Leilani: Luster - portrait of the artist as a black millennial woman

One of the finer episodes in Raven Leilani’s startling debut (which contains an embarrassment of fine episodes) comes about halfway through, when Edie, our young, struggling black narrator, starts working as a rider for a “popular in-app delivery...

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George Saunders: A Swim in a Pond in the Rain review – Russian lessons in literature and life

Before he published fiction, George Saunders trained as an engineer and wrote technical reports. The Booker-winning author of Lincoln in the Bardo, and four volumes of short stories, still has a telling fondness for precisely-scaled kits, blueprints...

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Courttia Newland: A River Called Time review - an ethereality check

It is near impossible to imagine what the world would look like today if slavery and colonialism had never existed, let alone to write a book on the subject. Courttia Newland sets himself this daunting task in his latest novel, A River Called Time....

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Roald and Beatrix: The Tail of the Curious Mouse, Sky One review – twinkly tale for troubled times

They say "never meet your heroes". That may be true, but it forms the premise of a new TV drama concerning two of the world’s most famous children’s authors – Beatrix Potter and Roald Dahl – who encounter each other at opposite ends of their life....

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Goran Vojnović: The Fig Tree review - falling apart together as Yugoslavia splits

Seven years ago, at a literary festival in the Croatian port of Pula, I heard Goran Vojnović talk about the vicious petty nationalism that that had poisoned daily life in the republics of former Yugoslavia. At that point the splintering of...

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Don DeLillo: The Silence review - when the lights of technology go out

Don DeLillo’s latest novella, The Silence, has been marketed with an emphasis on its prescience, describing the shocked lacuna of time around a devastating event whose repercussions are yet to be truly felt. It is a compelling short read, but a...

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