The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (pbk)

Reviewed by Ali First published in 1985, The Handmaid’s Tale seemed to speak to the generation coming to political awareness in that decade. Back then it could be read as speculative fiction. We read it as a warning, rather than a prophecy, and it has inspired a generation of feminists. Margaret Atwood takes us to…

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…

Letty Fox: Her Luck by Christina Stead

Reviewed by Karen Langley Australian-born Christina Stead led a lively and picaresque life, spending parts of her time in the USA, France, Spain and the UK. Therefore, it’s safe to assume that the heroine of this entertaining and adventurous novel draws much of her experiences from the life of her author. Letty Fox: her Luck…

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 –…

No Cunning Plan: My Story by Tony Robinson (pbk)

Reviewed by Laura Marriott Like many people I first came to know Tony Robinson through his role as Baldrick on Blackadder, before following him as he helmed Time Team. This autobiography, though, shows that there is so much more to Robinson than that. Starting out as a child actor he has led an exceptional life,…

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,…

Questions for Amanda Craig, author of The Lie of the Land

Interview by Annabel Annabel: I loved reading The Lie of the Land, and it had me giggling all the way through. Before I discuss some of the themes, I’d like to ask you about the vein of humour that runs through your novels. Often so close to life, but just a little exaggerated, which makes…

The Santiago Pilgrimage by Jean-Christophe Rufin

Translated by Malcolm Imrie and Martina Dervis Reviewed by Terence Jagger Monsieur Rufin is an impressive man, having founded Médecins sans Frontières, been an ambassador for France in Senegal, written extensively in various genres, winning the Prix Goncourt, and was one of the youngest ever members of the Académie Française. I reviewed a novel of…

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…

Running Blind by Desmond Bagley

Reviewed by Annabel I’m delighted that the vogue for republishing the best thrillers from the 1960s onwards as exemplified by the books of Lionel Davidson (see Harriet’s reviews here, here and here!) has turned to another star from the past – Desmond Bagley. In our household, I grew up on a diet of action thriller writers…

Maigret Goes to School by Georges Simenon

Reviewed by Harriet Translated by Linda Coverdale What was he doing there? A hundred times, in the middle of an investigation, he’d had the same feeling of helplessness or, rather, futility. He would find himself abruptly plunged into the lives of people he had never met before, and his job was to discover their most…

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…

Aphra Behn: A Secret Life by Janet Todd

Reviewed by Harriet ‘Aphra Behn was a woman who wore masks’. So says Janet Todd at the beginning of this monumental, newly revised biography of Behn, who was a prolific dramatist, poet, novelist and translator, and ‘the first English woman to earn her living solely by her pen’. Born sometime between 1637 and 1643 (though…

Deaths of the Poets by Paul Farley and Michael Simmons Roberts

Reviewed by Harriet The deaths of poets matter to us because they become a lens through which to look at the poems. So say the authors, both poets themselves, in this satisfying, thought-provoking book about – well, about the deaths of poets. It’s structured as a series of journeys the two of them made, in…