The Death of Murat Idrissi by Tommy Wieringa

Translated by Sam Garrett Reviewed by Alice Farrant Two venturesome women on a journey through the land of their fathers and mothers. A wrong turn. A bad decision.[1] The Death of Murat Idrissi is a tale of the migrant dilemma; the desperate measures someone will go to escape, but also the struggle to belong. In…

Melmoth by Sarah Perry

Reviewed by Alice Farrant Helen Franklin is self-repressed, restricting herself from all that is pleasurable or happy. She merely exists alongside Prague, parallel to its beauty. When suddenly, she is given a manuscript of accounts all linked to a spectre named Melmoth, she is forced to look back to the events that built her self-imposed…

Save Me the Waltz by Zelda Fitzgerald

Reviewed by Harriet Written in just two months while its author was a patient in a psychiatric clinic, Zelda Fitzgerald’s first and only novel found a publisher in 1932. Three thousand copies were printed, but fewer than half actually sold, and for more than thirty years the novel sank without trace. When it was republished…

Things We Nearly Knew by Jim Powell (pbk)

Reviewed by Susan Osborne Jim Powell’s Things We Nearly Knew is a slice of American smalltown life seen through the eyes of an unnamed bartender. I enjoyed Powell’s second novel, Trading Futures, a couple of years back, admiring its narrator’s waspishly funny inner monologue. His new novel is infused with a gentler humour, the themes…

Dark Water by Elizabeth Lowry

Reviewed by Anne Goodwin Twenty-one-year-old Hiram Carver, assistant surgeon on the USS Orbis in 1833, senses something special about William Borden when he first sees him on board. The sailor exudes a quiet dignity that his upper-class superior officers seem to lack. So when he hears the story of Borden’s heroism in saving the lives…

The Adventures of Owen Hatherley in the Post-Soviet Space by Owen Hatherley

Reviewed by Karen Langley Author Owen Hatherley has carved out a niche for himself as one of the UK’s foremost commentators on matters architectural and political; his work exists at the point where these intersect with aesthetics; and his latest chunky tome, a fascinating volume from Repeater Books, tackles all three in a work that…

Middle England by Jonathan Coe

Reviewed by Annabel By the time I’d finished reading Coe’s latest novel, it was about a fortnight after publication and by this time he (and his publisher Penguin Viking) could claim a big publicity success. There had been spreads about the book and Coe in all the broadsheet arts pages, reviews in the latest issues…

Berta Isla by Javier Marías

Translated by Margaret Jull Costa Reviewed by Anna Hollingsworth I’m not one for classic spy stories: I don’t care if the martinis come shaken or stirred, and as much as I love anything set in the 70s, I gave the much-praised TV adaptation of le Carré’s The Little Drummer Girl a miss. But Javier Mariás’s…

Dramatic Exchanges by Daniel Rosenthal (Editor)

Reviewed by Harriet When we think of London’s National Theatre, most of us will envisage the great concrete complex on the South Bank of the Thames, designed by Denis Lasdun and opened in 1976. With its three stages, the building has the capacity to seat audiences of up to 2500 people a night, and has…

Where Shall We Run To? by Alan Garner

Reviewed by Annabel. I’ve been a fan of Alan Garner’s novels ever since my childhood when I first encountered The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and its sequel The Moon of Gomrath in the 1960s. I can think of few books that are imbued with such a sense of place as that pair, being set at Alderley…

The Infinite Blacktop by Sara Gran

Reviewed by Basil Ransome Davies At times crime fiction seems a genre so powerful that it sucks in and revitalises other forms. At others, literary fiction appears to piggyback expediently on the thriller or whodunit to expand its popularity – that is to say, its market. It must be a good few years now since…

Merry Christmas from the Shiny Eds!

Only ten days to go till the big day, and the Shiny editors are taking a Christmas break. We’ll return in the New Year; our next reviews will appear on 15 January. Meanwhile we’d like to wish a very happy Christmas to all our readers – we’re glad to know you’re there, and hopefully appreciating…

Little by Edward Carey

Reviewed by Simon The name Madame Tussaud is familiar to most of us – particularly to anybody who has been a tourist in London, and visited the waxwork museum that bears her name. You can also, it turns out, witness branches of Madame Tussaud’s in Amsterdam, Beijing, Bangkok, Berlin, Blackpool, Hollywood, Hong Kong, Las Vegas,…

Childhood by Gerard Reve

Translated by Sam Garrett Reviewed by Harriet Gerard Reve (1923-2006) was a Dutch writer – according to Wikipedia, one of the ‘Great Three’ of Dutch postwar literature. I have to admit to never having heard of him, but if the two novellas contained in this attractive hardback from Pushkin are anything to go by, it…

The Women’s Atlas by Joni Seager

Reviewed by Liz Dexter On this book there’s a quote from Catherine Mayer, Co-Founder of the Women’s Equality Party: “The most important book that will be published this year” and it’s probably one of the most important books to be published EVERY year. All the information we maybe turn our faces away from, not wanting…

The Chronicles of Clovis by Saki

Reviewed by Simon Saki is one of those writers a lot of people have heard of but haven’t read – and, as A.A. Milne’s introduction in this reprint (itself a reprint from a much earlier edition) notes, his fans are cautious of sharing so wonderful a gem with those who might not be appreciative. Well,…