Crossing by Pajtim Statovci

Translated by David Hackston Reviewed by Anna Hollingsworth Crossing is perhaps one of the vaguest book titles I have come across recently, especially given the trend towards sentence-length titles (think Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine or The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared). I had my misgivings about it, suspecting an attempt…

Liar by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen

Reviewed by Anna Hollingsworth If you asked me about the time I first discovered Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, I could tell you this was when I read the author’s much-praised second novel, Waking Lions. I couldn’t give you the full synopsis of the plot, though: I recall the protagonist being an Israeli neurosurgeon who, on one of…

Music Love Drugs War by Geraldine Quigley

Reviewed by Anna Hollingsworth The Troubles are exploding – in the best possible sense – onto the literary scene: two decades after the Good Friday Agreement, Anna Burns’s masterfully haunting Milkman was awarded the Booker Prize. However, the novel’s success came with criticisms of its difficulty, with various commentators describing it as everything from ‘impenetrable’…

Picnic in the Storm by Yukiko Motoya

Translated by Asa Yoneda Reviewed by Anna Hollingsworth The title of Yukiko Motoya’s short story collection Picnic in the Storm could easily be a description of the author’s literary life. In her native Japan, Motoya is reaping prize after prize, yet the young writer writes about the ordinary and everyday with an ease and a…

Berta Isla by Javier Marías

Translated by Margaret Jull Costa Reviewed by Anna Hollingsworth I’m not one for classic spy stories: I don’t care if the martinis come shaken or stirred, and as much as I love anything set in the 70s, I gave the much-praised TV adaptation of le Carré’s The Little Drummer Girl a miss. But Javier Mariás’s…

If Cats Disappeared From the World by Genki Kawamura

Translated by Eric Selland Reviewed by Anna Hollingsworth Who doesn’t deal with the devil every now and again? Or perhaps a god from your chosen religion, for the more saintly among us? Or just any form of non-supernatural, psychological trading in the privacy of your own mind? At risk of branding myself as the resident…

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

Reviewed by Anna Hollingsworth What happens when the walls around someone collapse – in this case, both literally and metaphorically? One take is that when you’re left without shelter under the open sky, you may have lost your security but have gained a clearer view on life instead. This is the premise for Barbara Kingsolver’s…

Hippie by Paulo Coelho

Reviewed by Anna Hollingsworth Hippie is the newest addition to Coelho’s bibliography, but to say that it is something new from Coelho would be lying. Coelho’s previous autobiographical novels are all set on journeys: The Pilgrimage describes the author’s spiritual awakening on his 500-mile hike to Santiago de Compostela, The Valkyries tells the story of…

On Rape by Germaine Greer

Reviewed by Anna Hollingsworth To say that the statistics are grim is a blatant understatement. One woman in five will experience sexual violence, but very few cases end up in court, and the perpetrator faces punishment in even fewer. Non-consensual sex may be more common than consensual. Intense fear of rape is something of a…

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 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…

Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith

Reviewed by Anna Hollingsworth Here’s a confession: I am envious of Zadie Smith.This is not only a case of casual, low-level, everyday envy, the kind you might feel over someone’s new wardrobe, but a full-blown envy that warrants its place among the seven deadly sins. I may be risking victim blaming here – if the…

The Squeeze by Lesley Glaister

Reviewed by Anna Hollingsworth Admitted, to say that the world has shrunk into a village has shrunk into a cliché itself. But the cliché is painfully accurate, and Lesley Glaister’s The Squeeze plays out the global village in its most brutal sense. Glaister squeezes Europe into an Edinburgh brothel, where global human rights violations and…

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…