The Other Americans by Laila Lalami

Reviewed by Gill Davies The cover illustration for the book is an aerial view of a suburban street. A pattern of identical houses with green lawns and tidy spaces symbolises the “America” of myth. It reflects a political fantasy of uniformity of race, class, gender and sexuality. But this is an America of exclusion, that…

The Office of Gardens and Ponds by Didier Decoin

Translated by Euan Cameron Reviewed by Harriet In this magical novel, we are in Japan, many many years ago. The small, unremarkable village of Shimae lies on the banks of the river Kusagawa, which for many years has provided an income for the village. For wonderfully large and beautiful carp can be caught in the…

Crossing by Pajtim Statovci

Translated by David Hackston Reviewed by Anna Hollingsworth Crossing is perhaps one of the vaguest book titles I have come across recently, especially given the trend towards sentence-length titles (think Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine or The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared). I had my misgivings about it, suspecting an attempt…

The Kindness of Strangers by Salka Viertel

Reviewed by Lizzy Siddal There are times when an autobiography by someone you’ve never heard of just slots into your current reading stream. Such was the case when New York Review of Books released a new edition of Salka Viertel’s The Kindness of Strangers. With the #germanlitmonth readalong of Roth’s Radetzky March on the horizon,…

The Strange Case of Harriet Hall by Moray Dalton

Reviewed by Elaine Simpson-Long More and more unknown or unfamiliar writers of the Golden Age of detective fiction are being unearthed and reprinted and this pleases me mightily.  Having read and re-read all of Agatha Christie, D L Sayers and Ngaio Marsh to mention just a few, finding new authors coming to light is like…

Metropolis by Philip Kerr

Reviewed by Max Dunbar Swan Song (For A City) Stephen King once wrote of the ‘Grey Havens’ as a kind of afterlife where fictional characters can relax after their authors die or finish their stories. I had the idea that he got this from Tolkien, but a Wiki search brings up the place as a…

The Artificial Silk Girl by Irmgard Keun

Translated by Kathie von Ankum Reviewed by Harriet If a young woman from money marries an old man because of money and nothing else and makes love to him for hours and has this pious look on her face, she’s called a German mother and a decent woman. If a young woman without money sleeps…

Charlie Savage by Roddy Doyle

Reviewed by Laura Marriott One of the kids wants a tattoo. -He’s only three, I tell the wife. -I’m aware of that, she tells me back. -But he still wants one. -He can’t even say ‘tattoo’, I tell her. -I know, she says. -It’s sweet. Charlie Savage is not a fan of tattoos. He is…

Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce

Reviewed by Elaine Simpson-Long This book kept popping up I my Twitter feed with recommendations and exhortations to ‘Read this Fantastic Book’. I am rather contrary so I ignored them all until I decided well everyone cannot be wrong, so I gave in and opened my copy. I opened it up. ‘OH NO,’ I scream…

Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Reviewed by Annabel There was a lot of pre-publishing buzz about Daisy Jones and The Six – it was instantly signed up by Amazon for a TV series with Reese Witherspoon producing. But, in this case, there was no need to worry about the book not being worth the hype, for this book is a…

A Friend is a Gift You Give Yourself by William Boyle

 Reviewed by Basil Ransome-Davies Some novels strike such an authentic note in the beginning that they give you the immediate assurance — the eagerness — to read on. You can’t help being hooked by the individual quality of the writing and the distinctive angle of insight. This is Mo Phelan, a retired porn actress stranded…

Cocoa An Exploration of Chocolate, With Recipes – Sue Quinn

Reviewed by Hayley Anderton There are all sorts of reasons I pick up cookbooks to look at: I like the cover, I like the author, the subject grabs me, someone has recommended it, and so on. The only reason I’ll buy it though is if it passes the flick test – if I don’t want…

Adèle by Leïla Slimani

Translated by Sam Taylor Reviewed by Annabel Slimani’s first novel to be translated into English, Lullaby, took the English-speaking publishing world by storm. It was a literary thriller telling the story of a murderous nanny and what made her that way, (reviewed by Harriet here). It was the must-read book at the time, an instant…

Vagina A Re-Education – Lynn Enright

Reviewed by Hayley Anderton I might not have picked this book up if I hadn’t realised I was vaguely squeamish about saying the word vagina, or writing it, publicly. My family and friends are not noticeably prudish yet we talk in euphemisms, or don’t talk at all, about this one part of our bodies. A…

Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li

Reviewed by Annabel For some, this debut novel was a surprise inclusion on the longlist for the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction this year – for a start, it’s a dark comedy, and comedy rarely features in prize longlists. I, however, was delighted to see it there, for it does have a heart and is…

Liar by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen

Reviewed by Anna Hollingsworth If you asked me about the time I first discovered Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, I could tell you this was when I read the author’s much-praised second novel, Waking Lions. I couldn’t give you the full synopsis of the plot, though: I recall the protagonist being an Israeli neurosurgeon who, on one of…

A spotlight on the Wellcome Book Prize

By Rebecca Foster Celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, the Wellcome Book Prize is an annual award sponsored by the Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation founded by Sir Henry Wellcome in 1936 and dedicated to improving health. Books are put forward by publishers (which can nominate up to three titles each), must have been…

Little Faith by Nickolas Butler

Reviewed by Harriet This is Nickolas Butler’s third novel. He was widely praised for his first, Shotgun Lovesongs, which was published in 2014, and equally so for his second, The Hearts of Men. Is Little Faith going to be the third success in a row? I would say yes, without a doubt. ‘Powerful’, ‘tender’ ‘gripping’…

Forms of Enchantment: Writings on Art & Artists by Marina Warner

Reviewed by Helen Parry Although Marina Warner is perhaps best known (and deservedly) for her magnificent work on fairy tales, she has long been writing about other aspects of culture: from her exploration of the cult of the Virgin Mary in Alone of All her Sex, to figures of fear and horror in No Go…

War Doctor: Surgery on the Front Line by David Nott

Reviewed by Rebecca Foster Looking out from my inconsequential life, I’m often envious of people who save lives on a regular basis – doctors, surgeons, EMTs, firefighters, and those everyday heroes who dive in to save someone who’s drowning. Maybe I’ve recommended a book that provided some much-needed entertainment or reassurance, or kept overseas scientists…

What Not by Rose Macaulay

Introduced by Sarah Lonsdale with notes by Kate Macdonald Reviewed by Karen Langley The name of Rose Macaulay is not one that will necessarily be well known to the casual reader nowadays. Prolific and extremely popular during her day, she’s one of those women writers of the twentieth century who’ve perhaps become marginalized; there are…