What it Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah

Reviewed by Rebecca Foster Born in the UK, raised largely in Nigeria, and now resident in Minneapolis, USA – Africa and the West are blended in debut author Lesley Nneka Arimah’s heritage just as they are in her vibrant short fiction. “Light,” one of the stories in What It Means when a Man Falls from…

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Reviewed by Gill Davies Pachinko is a very different novel from Min Jin Lee’s earlier Free Food (reviewed here). It is a historical novel covering nearly 100 years of the experiences of a Korean family, touching on the momentous events that shape their destinies as well as their everyday lives and relationships. The opening sequences…

Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee

Reviewed by Gill Davies I am going to review two novels by Min Jin Lee (the other one is Patchinko, reviewed here). This one was her first; it was successful and quite well reviewed and is now reprinted in paperback to coincide with the publication of her second novel. I can’t wholeheartedly say I enjoyed it…

The Children of Jocasta by Natalie Haynes

Reviewed by Annabel Natalie Haynes may be most familiar to you as a journalist and broadcaster, popping up on various shows and with her own series Natalie Haynes Stands Up for the Classics on BBC Radio 4, which takes an irreverent look at ancient Greek and Roman life. Her first novel, The Amber Fury, (published…

The Zoo by Christopher Wilson

Reviewed by Basil Ransome Davies Christopher Wilson’s new novel takes us back in time while signalling contemporary concerns. It recalls the Cold War epoch, focusing on the ‘court’ of Josef Stalin, iron man of the Soviet Union and bogeyman of the capitalist powers, at a time in the early 1950s when he was ailing and…

Can You Hear Me? by Elena Varvello

Translated by Alex Valente Reviewed by Annabel Can you hear me? is no ordinary psychological thriller – to pigeonhole it into that sub-genre would be to ignore large parts of this atmospheric and intense novel. Alongside the central mystery is a coming of age story and the two themes mesh together seamlessly. It is also…

No Dominion by Louise Welsh

Reviewed by Annabel No Dominion is the concluding part of Louise Welsh’s Plague Times Trilogy – a dystopian tale of a pandemic and its aftermath. Although Welsh asserts in the Q&A we did (see here) that you can read the novels in any order, I think you’d probably want to read one or other, or…

Listening In Jenny Eclair

Listening In by Jenny Eclair

Review by Laura Marriott Listening In is a collection of 24 short stories from comedian and writer Jenny Eclair. Her last literary outing was the well-received novel Moving, reviewed on Shiny New Books here. Running at around 10 pages per story it is perfect bed time reading. Black and white illustrations by the author are…

Rapture Iliazd

Rapture by Iliazd

Translated by Thomas J. Kitson Reviewed by Karen Langley The early 20th century was a time of great change and upheaval; it produced wars and revolutions, but also a great flowering of experimentation in the creative arts. The whole of Europe was affected, but a particularly distinctive strand was seen in Russia, and the avant…

Swing Time Zadie Smith

Swing Time by Zadie Smith (pbk)

Reviewed by Lucy Unwin Great dancers make the most complicated moves look effortless, and great writers have you swinging through their work like a dance. Zadie Smith skips easily from London, to New York, to West Africa in her latest novel, without missing a beat. She tells the stories of myriad women, through the eyes…

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (pbk)

Reviewed by Lucy Unwin This is not a historical novel. Not just because the facts of slavery in pre-Civil War America are strained through the wonderful, allegorical, imagination of an expert story-teller (the railroad of the title is not the metaphor of history books, but real steam trains in real tunnels). But also because it’s…

Holding by Graham Norton (pbk)

Reviewed by Laura Marriott The first thing one does after finishing Holding is breathe a sigh of relief. When a well-known personality branches into fiction there is always the fear that they will not be very good; that maybe they have been given a book deal because of their celebrity and social media following. This…

The Watsons – Two Endings

Reviewed by Elaine Simpson-Long I have recently read two finished versions of  Austen’s The Watsons, a novel fragment which, they say, she abandoned after her father’s death in 1805. I have found it very amusing to see how they differ and how the authors of both completions have diverged so widely in so many ways. The story…

Portrait Antoine Laurain

The Portrait by Antoine Laurain

Reviewed by Annabel Translated by Jane Aitken and Emily Boyce French author Antoine Laurain has already got himself an army of fans (or should that be ‘armée’!) thanks to Gallic Books’ wonderful translations of his books. The first two were utterly charming, funny, yet touching and romantic novels, positioned just on the right side of…

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy

Reviewed by Lucy Unwin Arundhati Roy’s Booker Prize winning debut The God Of Small Things was a sensuous, atmospheric, emotionally powerful book. India’s caste system was the motivator of the plot, and a backdrop of Keralan Communism bled through it. The book was saturated with politics, but it mainly served to inspire, sustain and contextualise…

DIS MEM BER by Joyce Carol Oates

Reviewed by Karen Langley American author Joyce Carol Oates is an astonishingly prolific writer: since the publication of her first book in 1963, she’s produced over 40 novels as well as short stories, poetry and non-fiction works. Born in New York in 1938, Oates’ long and illustrious career has seen her producing works known for…

Hot Milk by Deborah Levy (pbk)

Reviewed by Annabel This novel was my first encounter with Levy and I’ll confess, I found Hot Milk a difficult book to read. Levy has an oblique style that doesn’t yield its secrets immediately. However, upon reflection, I began to comprehend at least some of the metaphors, references and themes within. With understanding, the novel grew on…

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

Reviewed by Harriet It’s every parent’s nightmare – one minute your child is there, next minute they’re gone. My own three-year-old daughter once wandered off in a busy market in central London, and the hour or so before we tracked her down to a nearby police station was one of the most agonising of my…

White Tears by Hari Kunzru

Reviewed by Annabel One thing you can say about Kunzru’s previous novels – they will always have interesting themes that connect with the zeitgeist of the day, from computer viruses in Transmissions to cults in the Californian desert in Gods Without Men. Increasingly, they include ghostly echoes from the past coming back to haunt the…

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…