Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss

Reviewed by Laura Tisdall Having read every novel that Sarah Moss has written (plus most of her non-fiction) I was eagerly anticipating Ghost Wall. It didn’t disappoint, although its brevity made it feel a little less substantial than previous stand-outs like The Tidal Zone and Bodies of Light.  Set in the 1990s at a recreated Iron…

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…

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

Reviewed by Alice Farrant The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker is the retelling of The Iliad from the perspective of Briseis (Brih-SAY-iss), once Queen of Lyrnessus and then slave and concubine to Achilles. From my understanding of The Iliad (I should admit now that I’ve not read it) and Wikipedia, Briseis falls in…

The Hazards Of Good Fortune by Seth Greenland

Reviewed by Basil Ransome-Davies The title of Seth Greenland’s book harks back to William Dean Howells’ 1889 New York novel of business and politics A Hazard of New Fortunes. The fortune of Greenland’s title harnesses both its meanings in a classically American equation, both luck and riches. Jay Goldstone, the novel’s lead character, was born…

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

Reviewed by Alice Farrant There are books you enjoy and then there are the books that consume you. Authors whose work brands you, generating literary musing that lasts well beyond the final pages of their novels. Donna Tartt, Ford Madox Ford, Richard Yates, Sarah Moss, Elena Ferrante… Ottessa Moshfegh has joined the ranks of literature…

Spotlight on Publishers: Myriad Editions

Annabel asked Myriad Editions’ Publishing Director Candida Lacey some questions… Annabel: Your company website has an intriguing strapline, ‘Publishers of fiction, graphic books and atlases’. Tell us a little about Myriad Editions and how it began? Candida: Myriad was set up in 1993 by the late Anne Benewick, formerly an editor at Pluto Press, and…

I Only Killed Him Once by Adam Christopher

Reviewed by David Harris This is the final outing, as far as I’m aware (though it would be nice to have more), for Ray Electromatic, Adam Christopher’s wise-cracking, Chandleresque robot detective and hitman. Ray’s investigations (and assignments) are made more difficult by the fact that his memory tape only lasts for 24 hours. After that…

The King’s Witch by Tracy Borman

Reviewed by Julie Barham This is the debut novel written by Tracy Borman, who is a popular historian and Curator of Historic Royal Palaces. The research is therefore impeccable, the feeling for the age is genuine and ought to be experienced, and the writing is extremely engaging. As a first published foray into fiction, this…

The Life to Come by Michelle de Kretser (pbk)

Reviewed by Kim Forrester There’s something about Michelle de Kretser’s silky prose combined with her superbly drawn characters and her forensic eye for detail that makes The Life to Come  —the Australian writer’s first novel since winning the Miles Franklin Literary Award with Questions of Travel in 2013 — truly sing. Throw in fierce intelligence and sparkling wit…

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…

City of Light by Rupert Christiansen

Reviewed by Karen Langley The city of Paris exerts an eternal fascination; chic and glamorous, the haunt of revolutionaries and intellectuals, and stuffed with romance, it can be many things to many people. There are claims that it’s known as the City of Light because of its leading role during the Age of Enlightenment, or…

Johannesburg by Fiona Melrose (pbk)

Reviewed by Eleanor Franzén There seem to be a lot of rewrites out these days; many of them are about myth and legend, like Kamila Shamsie’s Women’s Prize-winning Home Fire, but some are reworkings of more recent literature. Fiona Melrose’s second novel, Johannesburg, isn’t precisely a rewrite, but it takes many of its cues from Virginia…

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…

How to Change your Mind: The new science of psychedelics by Michael Pollan

Review by Peter Reason ‘The soul should always stand ajar.’ It is fitting that Michael Pollan introduces his latest book on the resurgence in interest in LSD, psilocybin and other psychedelics with this epigraph from Emily Dickinson. For, as he concludes in this entertaining and informative book, exploration of alternative states of consciousness can have…

Sentimental Tales by Mikhail Zoshchenko

Translated by Boris Dralyuk Review by Karen Langley Russian satirical writing has a rich heritage, stretching all the way back to  the  time of Catherine the Great and continuing into the current day. It’s a way of writing that has served the country’s people well during any number of repressive regimes, and was particularly vital…

Vernon Subutex 2 by Virginie Despentes

Translated by Frank Wynne Reviewed by Basil Ransome-Davies Almost two decades ago I saw a French movie called Baise-moi. It contained, besides much simulated violence, what Wikipedia fastidiously calls ‘several unsimulated sex scenes’. Yes, actual fucking and sucking, the two principals being played, necessarily, by porn actresses. Filth at the arthouse? Sort of, along with…

The Aviator by Eugene Vodolazkin

Translated by Lisa Hayden Reviewed by Karen Langley You awake in a hospital bed. You have no memory of who you are or how you came to be there, apart from a name – Innokenty Petrovich Platonov. Gradually your memory begins to come back in random fragments here and there so that you (and the…