The Stella Prize and its 2017 winner

By Isobel Blackthorn Could there ever be enough literary prizes to satisfy the ambition of authors? For a very small literary market, Australia has a healthy complement, from the most lucrative Miles Franklin Award through to the State Premier and Prime Minister’s awards. Criteria differ, although many prizes have an appetite for distinctly Australian works…

Letters From Klara and Other Stories by Tove Jansson

Translated by Thomas Teal Reviewed by Kate Gardner This penultimate collection of Finnish literary giant Jansson’s short stories has taken 26 years to be published in an English translation, but that is a reflection of our literary landscape, not of the quality of the stories. Jansson was in her 70s when she wrote these, and…

Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney

Reviewed by Lucy Unwin That the Bechdel Test for movies even exists has to be one of the more depressing minor details of modern times. If you’ve never come across it, it’s a way of evaluating a film’s representation of women using these criteria: (1) it has to have at least two women in it,…

Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor

Review by David Hebblethwaite Jon McGregor is a writer whose work deserves the fullest attention, which it will repay with some extraordinary reading experiences. He has an unerring ability to cast the everyday in a mysterious new light. Where McGregor’s previous work has often focused on urban environments, Reservoir 13 – his fourth novel –…

The Lie of the Land by Amanda Craig

Reviewed by Annabel Quentin and Lottie want to divorce – but they can’t afford to. Well, can’t afford to sell their big London house and buy two smaller ones that will permit them to carry on their city lives. Lottie comes up with a solution – move to a cheap part of Devon and rent,…

The Accusation by Bandi

Translated by Deborah Smith Reviewed by Anna Hollingsworth Look at all these people, sobbing over a death that happened three months ago, starving because they haven’t been able to draw their rations all the while. What about the mother of the child bitten by a snake while he was out gathering flowers for Kim Il-sung’s…

The Photographer- Meike Ziervogel 

Reviewed by Hayley Anderton I first heard of Meike Ziervogel in the early days of her publishing house, Peirene Press, when I was offered a book to review. It hooked me in and so I’ve followed what she’s done, first as a publisher, and then as a writer, ever since. The Photographer is her fourth…

Checkpoint by Jean-Christophe Rufin

Translated by Alison Anderson Reviewed by Terence Jagger The first character we meet is Maud, a young and naive Frenchwoman who is apparently badly injured, being driven by Marc through the snow, pursued by forces they clearly fear but of which we know nothing. This prologue, it quickly appears, is not a prelude but a…

Siracusa by Delia Ephron

Reviewed by Marina Sofia Let me start by saying: don’t believe the hype. This book is being marketed as psychological suspense, impossible to put down, a page-turning narrative of a holiday which ends in tragedy… Yet all of this description does the book a disservice, attracting the attentions of the wrong kind of reader. Those…

Addlands by Tom Bullough (pbk)

Reviewed by David Hebblethwaite Tom Bullough grew up on a farm in Radnorshire on the Welsh borders. As an administrative county, Radnorshire is no more, having been officially absorbed into Powys in 1974; but Bullough notes on his website that there’s still a Radnorshire which persists in people’s conception of the area. Addlands, Bullough’s fourth…

The Night Visitor by Lucy Atkins

Reviewed by Judith Wilson The Night Visitor is Lucy Atkins’ third novel, and as I’d devoured the first two, I was keen to read this. The proof copy arrived emblazoned with emerald dung beetles and with the tantalizing phrase: ‘One secret could ruin her life …’ It’s a great premise for a novel. I’d found…

An English Guide to Birdwatching by Nicholas Royle

Reviewed by Annabel When first offered this book to review – I thought it was finally time to get around to reading one of Nicholas Royle’s novels, I’ve several on the shelves, notably First Novel. Then I opened this book, looked at the flyleaf and that book wasn’t listed. It was only then that I…

Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout

Reviewed by Harriet And if such a gift could come to him at such a time…— he opened his eyes, and yes, there it was, the perfect knowledge: Anything was possible for anyone. Just over a year after the publication of the amazing My Name is Lucy Barton (reviewed here in paperback), Elizabeth Strout has…

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

Reviewed by Lucy Unwin The first thing to say about The End We Start From is it’s not a standard book of fictional prose. The story is told through beautifully-crafted sentences, isolated like islands on the page. Shots of consciousness, captured like polaroids. Each scene is built from just a handful of these, and there…

Goblin by Ever Dundas

Reviewed by Isobel Blackthorn I wonder sometimes if we’ll ever tire of stories set in World War II. From Ian McEwan’s Atonement to Julie Summer’s Jambusters! and everything in between and beyond, the period makes for rich pickings. Ever Dundas’ Goblin is different. The story opens during the Blitz and is centred on a little…