mon 17/12/2018

fiction

Boris Akunin: Black City review - a novel to sharpen the wits

It is 1914 – a fateful year for assassinations, war and revolution. The fictional Erast Petrovich Fandorin, the protagonist of Boris Akunin’s series of historical thrillers, is an elegant, eccentric sometime government servant, spy and diplomat, as...

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Global fiction: the pick of 2018

If you believe the bulk of the “books of the year” features that drift like stray tinsel across the media at this time of year, Britain’s literary taste-makers only enjoy the flavours of the Anglosphere. With a handful of exceptions, the sort of...

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Barneys, Books and Bust Ups, BBC Four review - the Booker Prize at 50

You had to keep your eyes skinned. Was that Iris Murdoch or AS Byatt, Kingsley Amis or John Banville, Margaret Atwood or Val McDermid – maybe, even, Joanna Lumley? Tables as far as the eye can see, dressed with white tablecloths and crowded with...

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Barbara Kingsolver: Unsheltered review - too many issues

“When men fear the loss of what they know, they will follow any tyrant who promises to restore the old order.” Mary Treat, the real-life 19th-century botanist who is one of the characters in Barbara Kingsolver’s eighth novel, could be talking about...

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Katharine Kilalea: OK, Mr Field review - architecture and alienation on the Cape Town coast

Modern novels with an architectural theme have, to say the least, a mixed pedigree. At their finest, as in Thomas Bernhard’s Correction, the fluidity and ambiguity of prose fiction mitigates, even undermines, the obsessive planner’s or designer’s...

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Meg Wolitzer: The Female Persuasion review - the many faces of feminism

Meg Wolitzer’s 10th novel has been hailed as a breakthrough, a feminist blockbuster, an embodiment of the zeitgeist. (Nicole Kidman has bought the film rights, which goes to show.) But in all her fiction, she deftly explores motherhood, career,...

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William Trevor: Last Stories review - final intimations

An Irishman who spent more than half a century in London and then Devon, and a prolific writer – nearly 20 novels and novellas, some 20 collections of short stories in varying combinations – William Trevor (1928-2016) is often eulogised as a modern...

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Mario Vargas Llosa: The Neighbourhood review - a surprisingly sketchy telenovela

Mario Vargas Llosa has written a thriller which opens eye-poppingly. Two wives, one staying over with the other, discover in the course of the night that they are in fact bisexual. “Chabela stayed and slept in the bed with Marisa,” it says towards...

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The Woman in White, BBC One review - camp Victoriana

The BBC excels at a very particular kind of drama, namely one where production values overawe dramatic content. Its version of The Woman in White (BBC One) proves no exception. Our hero is Walter, a bemused sappy painter played by ex-Eastender Ben...

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Listed: The 10 Best Biblical Novels

From the myths of the Old Testament to the miracles of the New, the Bible has been as much a source of inspiration to writers, artists and composers as it has to theologians and priests. One of the most infamous yet influential of all Old Testament...

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'In order to write my book I had to kill Jane Austen'

My heroine would not have appeared in a Jane Austen novel. Brilliant, arch and incisive though Austen was – as deft in dissecting the economics of romance as in laying bare the lies told by the human heart – for better or worse, she still sent all...

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Lisa Halliday: Asymmetry review - unconventional and brilliant

Lisa Halliday’s striking debut novel consists of three parts. The first follows the blooming relationship between Alice and Ezra (respectively an Assistant Editor and a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer) in New York; the middle section comprises a...

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