Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers

Reviewed by Annabel Becky Chambers’ third novel is set in the same galactic milieu as her first two. It can be read as a standalone and marks her out as a shining star in the latest generation of space opera writers. In her marvellous debut, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, we travelled…

The Town by Shaun Prescott

Reviewed by Harriet This is how things are going to be from now on. This is how they’re going to stay. History can end, you know. It doesn’t have to keep going. In this strange, bewitching novel, a young writer comes to live in a New South Wales town. He has a project – he’s…

Learning to Die by Thomas Maloney

Reviewed by Anna Hollingsworth Three decades of life promise a quarter-life crisis: your 20s are on their way into your 30s, you’re forced to reflect and look back, and, too often, to ignore what you have done and instead panic over all the things you haven’t. The characters in Thomas Maloney’s Learning to Die embody…

The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas

Reviewed by Annabel The first thing you need to do with this sparkling debut novel is to suspend your disbelief. Just accept that time travel was invented by a quartet of four women in 1967 and run with it. That done, you can sit back and enjoy this complex story which incorporates a clever murder…

Johannesburg by Fiona Melrose (pbk)

Reviewed by Eleanor Franzén There seem to be a lot of rewrites out these days; many of them are about myth and legend, like Kamila Shamsie’s Women’s Prize-winning Home Fire, but some are reworkings of more recent literature. Fiona Melrose’s second novel, Johannesburg, isn’t precisely a rewrite, but it takes many of its cues from Virginia…

The Idiot by Elif Batuman (pbk)

Reviewed by Anna Hollingsworth In his The Idiot – the original – Dostoevsky set out on a mission to depict “the positively good and beautiful man.” The namesake, Prince Myshkin, has a goodness and open-hearted simplicity to him that others take as an absence of intellect and insight; and it makes him the perfect guinea…

Release by Patrick Ness (YA, pbk)

Reviewed by Annabel These days, I read fewer YA and children’s books, but Patrick Ness is one of those authors I will always look out for. His YA novels, and this one verges onto adult territory anyway, make true crossover reads that adults will enjoy too. Only the fact that I’d never read Mrs Dalloway blinded me…

Vernon Subutex 2 by Virginie Despentes

Translated by Frank Wynne Reviewed by Basil Ransome-Davies Almost two decades ago I saw a French movie called Baise-moi. It contained, besides much simulated violence, what Wikipedia fastidiously calls ‘several unsimulated sex scenes’. Yes, actual fucking and sucking, the two principals being played, necessarily, by porn actresses. Filth at the arthouse? Sort of, along with…

The Aviator by Eugene Vodolazkin

Translated by Lisa Hayden Reviewed by Karen Langley You awake in a hospital bed. You have no memory of who you are or how you came to be there, apart from a name – Innokenty Petrovich Platonov. Gradually your memory begins to come back in random fragments here and there so that you (and the…

Adjustment Day by Chuck Palahniuk

Reviewed by Rob Spence I began reading this book just as the outcry over the Trump regime’s treatment of migrants was gathering pace. It seemed an appropriate time to enter Chuck Palahniuk’s dystopian vision of a very-near future in which a bunch of young misfits engineer – almost by accident – a bloody coup in…

Disoriental by Négar Djavadi

Translated by Tina Kover Reviewed by Marina Sofia With a blurb promising a story of growing up in exile and even the title cleverly playing on words ‘disoriented’ and a sense of ‘disassociating’ oneself from ‘oriental’, this was always going to be a book that appealed to me. However, even if you are not as…

Retribution Road by Antonin Varenne (pbk)

Translated by Sam Taylor Reviewed by Gill Davies Having become rather jaded with the predictability of the crime fiction genre and wearied by the sheer number published, I’ve been interested to explore non-British novels. Then I found that Retribution Road is a historical novel with a British focus and wondered if I would be disappointed.…

Man Booker at 50: 2009-2017

And finally, this fifth decade brings us up to date with previous winners of the Man Booker Prize. In 2010, the organisation decided to create “The Lost Booker” to celebrate books that missed out due to a change in the prize’s rules over publication dates. As previously, a shortlist was drawn up and put to…

Man Booker at 50: The ones that got away

It’s not always the case (or often?) that judges and readers are all in agreement on longlists, let alone the shortlists or eventual winners of literary prizes. Here we look at a few of those shortlisted books and authors that our reviewers feel should have won. Let us know if you agree, and do tell…

Man Booker at 50: 1999-2008

The prize’s fourth decade marked the first time, in 2001, that the longlist was revealed to the world at large. It decade also marked two second wins for previous winners, Carey and Coetzee, who both won for the first time in the 1980s. In 2008, it was the fortieth anniversary of the prize. Once again…

Man Booker at 50: 1989-1998

During the prize’s third decade, for the second time in its history, two books tied for top spot in 1992. Then, in 1993, the prize turned twenty-five. To celebrate, three previous judges met to choose a “Booker of Bookers”. They picked Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children from 1981. In 1998, for the Prize’s thirtieth birthday, Booker…

Man Booker at 50: 1979-1988

The second decade of the prize, apart from producing the “Booker of Bookers” in Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, was enlivened by some tight judging decisions. In 1980, it was William Golding vs Anthony Burgess with Earthly Powers – and apparently Burgess refused to attend the presentation unless he was told in advance whether he had…

Man Booker at 50: 1969-1978

When the Booker Prize was inaugurated, prizes for literature were rather looked down upon, they just didn’t make much impact. Tom Maschler looked at the huge success of the French Prix Goncourt, and campaigned for an English prize with the aim of stimulating interest in British literature. Convinced this idea had legs, he started to…

He by John Connolly (pbk)

Reviewed by Annabel When I first started reading this book, I hadn’t appreciated it was by ‘John’ Connolly of the Charlie Parker crime novels, I mis-read the author’s forename, thinking it was ‘Joseph’ Connolly. That was an easy mistake to make, for this marvellous book by John Connolly would more naturally fit with the previous…

Caroline’s Bikini by Kirsty Gunn

Reviewed by Harriet ‘Alright’ I said, ‘I’ll try’…’But I’ve never done this kind of thing before’ is what I would have said next, I’m sure, as it still seems a strange thing to do, be involved in this kind of writing, the sort of project that was being suggested to me by Evan now. ‘I…