Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak (pbk)

Reviewed by Eric Karl Anderson It’s deeply frightening and upsetting how politically divided society is at the moment. When different factions are so convinced about the certitude of their own ideas and beliefs conflict is inevitable. Religion continues to be at the centre of many battles, yet in her new novel Elif Shafak creates the…

Roffey Tryst

The Tryst by Monique Roffey

Reviewed by Harriet This is a remarkable book by any standard. It’s marketed by the publisher, Dodo Ink, as a literary erotic novella, which sounds about right, as long as you remember the emphasis on the literary bit. There is certainly a huge amount of vivid, sometimes violent, sex here, but it’s about as far…

Autumn by Ali Smith (pbk)

Reviewed by Clare Rowland Autumn is the first of four books in a planned series of novels by Ali Smith named after the seasons and which focus on how we experience time. Set during the fallout of the Brexit referendum result in 2016, it follows the friendship between Elisabeth Demand, a 32-year-old history-of-art lecturer, and her eccentric…

An Interview with Nicole Krauss

Interview by Lucy Unwin Right until the moment our interview ends, and Nicole Krauss melts with a hug and a kind word into a wonderful dissolvable sweetness, she is hard, formidable, icy. Not bitchy or brash, or any other pejorative descriptor of female inaccessibility, but poised and controlled, intellectually precise and unyielding, pushing right up…

The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley

Reviewed by Annabel Natasha Pulley’s debut novel, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street (which I reviewed here in 2015), was a wonderful discovery. A period thriller with hints of steampunk fantasy, and a matching beautiful cover design complete with cutout watch dial, it became an instant favourite of the year. Now Bloomsbury have done it again,…

Rosie Millard Brazilian

The Brazilian by Rosie Millard

Reviewed by Laura Marriott The Brazilian opens in a London beauty salon where the middle class and nearly middle aged (although she would be furious if you suggested so!) Jane is getting a Brazilian and discussing her upcoming holiday to Ibiza with the beauty technician. Jane is annoyed and perhaps slightly scandalised when she hears…

Russian Émigré Short Stories from Bunin to Yanovsky, edited by Bryan Karetnyk

Reviewed by Karen Langley In the anniversary year of the 1917 Russian Revolution a number of books have been issued which look at that tumultuous event and its effect on Russia, as well as the aftermath in that country. However, Penguin Classics have recently published a fascinating anthology which approaches the conflict from a somewhat…

The Readymade Thief by Augustus Rose

Reviewed by Harriet A kickass debut from start to finish’ screams the cover of this highly readable, somewhat bizarre, debut novel. It’s a book that defies categorisation – perhaps best described as a picaresque coming-of-age novel, it manages to combine urban exploration, the Darknet, secret societies, the exploitation of teenagers, and the life and works…

The Easy Way Out by Steven Amsterdam (pbk)

Reviewed by Susan Osborne This novel is unlikely to appeal to everyone although we should all read it. It’s about assisted suicide, one of the great moral dilemmas of the twenty-first century Western world where medicine has advanced in leaps and bounds but not the ethical framework for dealing with its unintended consequences. Steven Amsterdam’s…

Testimony by Scott Turow

Reviewed by Basil Ransome Davies The ‘international theme’ – Old World/New World – was a foreground concern of Henry James. It typically featured the experience in Europe of an American innocent abroad, tasting the established, superior culture but also confronting the worldlier, more devious mindset of the host nationality. Posh transatlantic marriages could be made…

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, by Theodora Goss

Reviewed by Helen Parry I’m very fond of Theodora Goss’s short stories, so when I saw that she was publishing a novel I was excited and ordered a copy straight away. Goss’s stories are often formally quite experimental and fantastical; if you like Lud-in-the-Mist or Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, her work will appeal to…

Admissions by Henry Marsh

Reviewed by Rebecca Foster Brain surgeon Henry Marsh’s first book, Do No Harm, was one of my favorite reads of 2015. In short, enthrallingly detailed chapters named after conditions he had treated or observed, he reflected on life as a surgeon, expressing sorrow over botched operations and marveling at the God-like power he wields over people’s quality of…

Back to School and Off to College – a Literary Quiz

Compiled by Annabel As we begin the new academic year, what better time to test your knowledge of campus and school novels. We hope you find some old friends among the questions, but there are some trickier ones to test you too. I make no apologies for the short Harry Potter section at the end…

Elmet by Fiona Mozley

Reviewed by David Hebblethwaite When the 2017 Man Booker Prize longlist was announced last month, it included a number of familiar names (including Jon McGregor’s Reservoir 13, which I’ve reviewed for Shiny previously). But there was also one entirely unknown quantity: a debut novel that, at the time, had yet to be published. Fiona Mozley’s…

The Pitards by Georges Simenon

Translated by David Bellos Reviewed by Annabel By 1934, Georges Simenon had published the first 19 Maigret books, and he temporarily shelved the series, resuming ten years later. He went travelling around the world but didn’t stop writing, trying out a different form. These standalone books would come to be known as his romans durs…