fri 24/01/2020

fiction

Jeet Thayil: Low – grief’s seedy distractions

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, novelist, editor, performer and former addict spent a couple of decades rubbing shoulders with...

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Sema Kaygusuz: Every Fire You Tend review – an education in grief

In March 1937, the government of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk instigated what it called a “disciplinary campaign” against the Zaza-speaking Alevi Kurds in the Dersim region of eastern Turkey. What followed was a bloody, coordinated assault that resulted in...

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Elizabeth Strout: Olive, Again review - compassion, honesty and community

Elizabeth Strout is fond of plain titles. Much as her stories are interested in subtlety – the quiet complications and contradictions of ordinary life – her books advertise themselves by means of telling understatements. Olive, Again ...

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Ho Sok Fong: Lake Like A Mirror review - an intoxicating collection

“Truth was further from safety than two islands at opposite ends of the earth,” proclaims the narrator of ‘Lake Like A Mirror’, the titular short story in Ho Sok Fong’s intoxicating new collection. When a young Chinese Malaysian literature tutor...

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Book extract: Insurrecto by Gina Apostol

She had clutched the envelope given by the shy messenger, but she had never opened it. The Intended.True. The message from the director was for her.A joke between them—a bond.Though in her view he was no Kurtz: all he wanted was to finish his film....

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The Collection: Nina Leger trans. Laura Francis – daring, direct and richly imagined

Jeanne – employment, age and appearance unknown, motives unknowable – is building a collection of penises. In street after street, she feigns dizziness; on the inevitable approach of a man eager to lend his help, she leads him to a hotel room. After...

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Ocean Vuong: On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous review – the new avant-garde

Ocean Vuong’s debut novel is written as a letter to his mother, who cannot read. She cannot read because, when she was five, her schoolhouse was burnt to the ground in an American napalm raid. “Our mother tongue, then,” writes Vuong, is the “mark of...

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Vasily Grossman: Stalingrad review - a Soviet national epic

Stalingrad is the companion piece to Vasily Grossman’s Life and Fate, which on its (re)publication in English a decade ago was acclaimed as one of the greatest Russian (and not only Russian) novels of the 20th century. For its sense of the sheer...

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Ben Okri, Brighton Festival 2019 review - adventures in writing

If there’s one thing to learn from Ben Okri in this evening of conversation at Brighton Festival between the Famished Road writer and author Colin Grant it’s how to “upwake”.The phrase, coined in his new (11th) novel The Freedom Artist – a post-...

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Kristen Roupenian: You Know You Want This review - twisted tales

A one-night stand between a female college student, Margot, whose part-time job is selling snacks at the cinema, and thirtyish Robert, a customer, goes pathetically awry. It was disappointing, uneasy, perhaps more, and memorialised in all its edgy...

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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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