Dear Mrs Bird by A J Pearce

Reviewed by Helen Skinner It’s 1941 and Britain is at war. Emmeline Lake has always wanted to be a journalist and is thrilled when she sees an advertisement in the newspaper for a job at the London Evening Chronicle. This could be her opportunity to become a Lady War Correspondent. How exciting! To her delight, Emmy…

How Shostakovich Changed My Mind by Stephen Johnson

Reviewed by Karen Langley Readers of Shiny New Books will know of my love for Notting Hill Editions books; I’ve reviewed their Beautiful and Impossible Things and The Russian Soul volumes, and so the promise of a new book covering the impact of Russian composer Dimitri Shostakovich’s music on author Stephen Johnson was impossible to resist.…

Interview with Amanda Berriman, author of Home

Interview by Lucy Unwin Lucy: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us, could you explain a little bit about your original aim with Home? Amanda: I was trying to explore what ‘home’ is to different people and how it can look one way, but be something else. With the comparisons between Jesika…

The Golovlevs by M.E. Saltykov-Shchedrin

Translated by I.P. Foote Reviewed by Karen Langley Back in SNB #13 I reviewed The History of a Town by Saltykov-Shchedrin, one of the great Russian satirists of the 19th century. That book is regarded as a major work of the era; and now the Apollo imprint of House of Zeus (who issued History…) has followed…

The Ropewalker and A People Without a Past by Jaan Kross

Translated by Merike Lepasaar Beecher Reviewed by Gill Davies Thanks to the wonderful Maclehose Press I have discovered another writer in translation who deserves to be much better known. Up to now, according to Wikipedia, only four novels and one collection of stories by Jaan Kross have been published in English translations. The two novels…

The Eds discuss Shiny spring-cleaning!

Dear Shiny Readers, We hope you’re liking the new look for Shiny. We feel it’s cleaner, and it is nice to have the most recent posts higher up the front page for longer. Whilst we’re in spring-cleaning mode, the Shiny Eds have been discussing how we share our content with you. Outside of the website…

British Library Science Fiction Classics edited by Mike Ashley

Moonrise: The Golden Age of Lunar Adventures Lost Mars: The Golden Age of the Red Planet   Reviewed by Karen Langley There can’t be many readers of Shiny New Books who aren’t aware of the lovely British Library Crime Classics series: long out-of-print and forgotten novels and short stories from the golden age of crime…

What She Ate by Laura Shapiro

Reviewed by Hayley Anderton What She Ate looks at ‘six remarkable women and the food that tells their stories’. It comes at a time when food-centred biographies, or food books that frame themselves around biography are common, but as Shapiro points out in her introduction this is a relatively recent development. She began writing about women…

Diary of a Bipolar Explorer by Lucy Newlyn

Reviewed by Jean Morris This book is both useful and beautiful. Lucy Newlyn, recently retired Oxford professor of English literature, author of a lovely book, among others, about Dorothy and William Wordsworth (reviewed here at SNB by Harriet) and poet with two collections to her name (Ginnel, Carcanet, 2005, and Earth’s Almanac, Enitharmon, 2015), has…

A Chill in the Air by Iris Origo

Reviewed by Terence Jagger This is a fascinating book, written during the year or so preceding Italy’s entry in to the 1939-45 war, when whether she would join – and even in some people’s minds, on what side she would join – were open questions. Iris Origo was a young woman at the time, an…

Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith

Reviewed by Anna Hollingsworth Here’s a confession: I am envious of Zadie Smith.This is not only a case of casual, low-level, everyday envy, the kind you might feel over someone’s new wardrobe, but a full-blown envy that warrants its place among the seven deadly sins. I may be risking victim blaming here – if the…

Some thoughts about the novel by Adele Geras

Adèle originally published this piece at Writers Review, a blog she shares with fellow authors Linda Newbery and Celia Rees. We enjoyed it so much, we asked Adèle if we could share it here too.  The novel is in rude good health. Millions of people all over the world buy novels, read them, discuss them, take…

Dance of the Jakaranda by Peter Kimani

Reviewed by Terence Jagger This is a tricky book to read, though I enjoyed much of it. It is funny and observant, but painful too. Kimani has a strong view on the total evil of colonialism and its creatures, and this unalloyed negativity and cynicism can be corrosive, however justified much of his criticism is.…

The Earlie King & the Kid in Yellow by Danny Denton

Reviewed by Basil Ransome-Davies At the close of James Joyce’s moving and magisterial story ‘The Dead’ the reader learns that ‘snow was general all over Ireland… falling faintly through the universe … on all the living and the dead’, and the settling, drifting whiteness is given its full emotional force in a tale of imprisoned…

Ghosts of the Tsunami by Richard Lloyd Parry

Reviewed by Terence Jagger Japan suffers multitudes of earthquakes every year and is among the best prepared countries in the world. Tsunami, too, are common, and both are planned for meticulously. But March 2011 was different. This is a staggering book, intensely moving, and a wonderfully penetrating insight into modern Japan, both its resilience and…