Performing Hamlet by Jonathan Croall

Reviewed by Harriet Back in 2015 I wrote a review for Shiny (here) of Jonathan Croall’s Performing King Lear, a wonderfully well-researched survey of performances of this great and challenging play. Now Croall is back with a discussion of no less than forty-three performances of Hamlet, beginning in the 1950s and ending in 2017, with…

Death of the Vazir-Mukhtar by Yuri Tynianov

Translated by Susan Causey Translation editor Vera Tsareva-Brauner Reviewed by Karen Langley Recent years have seen a large number of works by Russian authors newly translated into the English language; many of these had disappeared under Soviet rule or while the authors were living abroad as émigrés, or simply because fashions in reading change. I’ve…

Viking Britain: A History by Thomas Williams

Reviewed by Liz Dexter Williams opens this wonderful, absorbing book with a big statement about how the Vikings are not afforded the same respect as, say, the Romans, having become almost a cartoonish stereotype, equated just about with pirates, cavemen and dinosaurs. He shares a rather ridiculous review of the British Museum’s Vikings: Life and…

Time’s Convert by Deborah Harkness

Reviewed by Harriet Have you ever wondered how the children of a witch and a vampire might turn out? Well, wonder no longer as you can now see them in the persons of Becca and Philip, the two year old twins of Diana Bishop and her husband Matthew Clermont. No idea what I’m talking about?…

By the Pricking of Her Thumb by Adam Roberts

Reviewed by David Harris Roberts seems to have been very busy lately so I’m glad he managed to include a return to the world of The Real-Town Murders, one of my favourite books of 2017. R!-Town is a futuristic version of Reading (the town on the Thames, not the bookish activity) though the futuristicness is less embodied in…

Banned Books Week: The Russians

By Karen Langley “The important task of literature is to free man, not to censor him.” (Anais Nin) The banning of books is an emotive topic; so much of the process seems to be arbitrary, subjective and liable to change as times change. However, it’s such a phenomenon that there is actually now a week…

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

Reviewed by Annabel Having been Man Booker shortlisted in 2011 for her debut novel, Half Blood Blues, set in Berlin during WWII and fifty years later, Edugyan’s second novel, The Second Life of Samuel Tyne, about the immigrant experience in 1960s Canada seemed to disappear without trace. But for her third, she is back on…

Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss

Reviewed by Laura Tisdall Having read every novel that Sarah Moss has written (plus most of her non-fiction) I was eagerly anticipating Ghost Wall. It didn’t disappoint, although its brevity made it feel a little less substantial than previous stand-outs like The Tidal Zone and Bodies of Light.  Set in the 1990s at a recreated Iron…

On Rape by Germaine Greer

Reviewed by Anna Hollingsworth To say that the statistics are grim is a blatant understatement. One woman in five will experience sexual violence, but very few cases end up in court, and the perpetrator faces punishment in even fewer. Non-consensual sex may be more common than consensual. Intense fear of rape is something of a…

Liquid by Mark Miodownik

Reviewed by Annabel In his 2013 book Stuff Matters which I reviewed for Shiny here, materials science professor Miodownik took us on a tour around some of the most important man-made materials that have shaped our lives: from steel to chocolate via paper and concrete – all featuring in a picture of the author reading…

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

Reviewed by Alice Farrant The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker is the retelling of The Iliad from the perspective of Briseis (Brih-SAY-iss), once Queen of Lyrnessus and then slave and concubine to Achilles. From my understanding of The Iliad (I should admit now that I’ve not read it) and Wikipedia, Briseis falls in…

Apprenticeship by Peter Gill

Reviewed by Harriet Born in Cardiff in 1939, Peter Gill is a distinguished theatre director and playwright. But he started his career as an actor in the early 1960s, working first at the Royal Court Theatre and later at the Royal Shakespeare Company. It’s this later event that forms the foundation of this book, in…

The Immeasurable World: Journeys in Desert Places by William Atkins

Reviewed by Rebecca Foster When I saw him introduce The Immeasurable World as part of the Faber Spring Party, William Atkins characterised it as being in “the old-fashioned travel writing tradition”. What he meant by that, I think, is twofold: one, that he travelled to his locations personally and spent significant time in each (a…

The Hazards Of Good Fortune by Seth Greenland

Reviewed by Basil Ransome-Davies The title of Seth Greenland’s book harks back to William Dean Howells’ 1889 New York novel of business and politics A Hazard of New Fortunes. The fortune of Greenland’s title harnesses both its meanings in a classically American equation, both luck and riches. Jay Goldstone, the novel’s lead character, was born…

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

Reviewed by Alice Farrant There are books you enjoy and then there are the books that consume you. Authors whose work brands you, generating literary musing that lasts well beyond the final pages of their novels. Donna Tartt, Ford Madox Ford, Richard Yates, Sarah Moss, Elena Ferrante… Ottessa Moshfegh has joined the ranks of literature…

Take Nothing With You by Patrick Gale

Reviewed by Annabel I took this novel on holiday to Somerset with me. We were renting a barn in one of the villages next door to Weston-Super-Mare, where Eustace, the protagonist of Patrick Gale’s new novel grows up. However, we only went into WSM the once: the tide was way out, exposing the estuarine mud…

Spotlight on Publishers: Myriad Editions

Annabel asked Myriad Editions’ Publishing Director Candida Lacey some questions… Annabel: Your company website has an intriguing strapline, ‘Publishers of fiction, graphic books and atlases’. Tell us a little about Myriad Editions and how it began? Candida: Myriad was set up in 1993 by the late Anne Benewick, formerly an editor at Pluto Press, and…

I Only Killed Him Once by Adam Christopher

Reviewed by David Harris This is the final outing, as far as I’m aware (though it would be nice to have more), for Ray Electromatic, Adam Christopher’s wise-cracking, Chandleresque robot detective and hitman. Ray’s investigations (and assignments) are made more difficult by the fact that his memory tape only lasts for 24 hours. After that…