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‘A few, rare moments of inspiration’ [book review]

A review of Shooting Stars: Ten Historical Miniatures by Stefan Zweig, translated from the German by Anthea Bell Earlier this year I enthusiastically reviewed Stefan Zweig’s memoir, The World of Yesterday, so I had absolutely no hesitation in picking up another of his non-fiction titles. Shooting Stars: Ten Historical Miniatures is a now slightly datedContinue reading ‘A few, rare moments of inspiration’ [book review]

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‘Horror and awe are not incompatible’ [book review]

A review of The Unreality of Memory & Other Essays by Elisa Gabbert What is disaster and why are we so obsessed with it? This is the question at the heart of Elisa Gabbert’s The Unreality of Memory & Other Essays, a wide-ranging collection of essays exploring individual and collective tragedy, our reaction to eventsContinue reading ‘Horror and awe are not incompatible’ [book review]

‘My eyes were open in the dark’ [book review]

A review of A Ghost in the Throat by Doireann Ní Ghríofa Isn’t this, in the end, what literature is for? This sense of connection, of shared understanding – a feeling that runs deeper than common background or mutual experience and rests, instead, in what it is to be human. This creation of something soContinue reading ‘My eyes were open in the dark’ [book review]

‘It depends what you focus on’ [book review]

A review of I Belong To Vienna by Anna Goldenberg, translated from the German by Alta L. Price It is an unparalleled joy to read a book set in a city with which you are deeply familiar – and in particular for me when that city is Vienna. I no longer live there and IContinue reading ‘It depends what you focus on’ [book review]

‘The loneliest whale in the world’ [book review]

A review of A Musical Offering by Luis Sagasti, translated from the Spanish by Fionn Petch Of all the mesmerising books I have had the pleasure of reading recently, Luis Sagasti’s A Musical Offering is right up there with the best of them. A complex and extremely heartfelt ode to another art form, music, thisContinue reading ‘The loneliest whale in the world’ [book review]

‘Bread is quiet, mute’ [book review]

A review of Our Daily Bread by Predrag Matvejević, translated from the Croatian by Christina Pribichevich-Zorić My abiding love of bread began around six years ago on a visit to Uzbekistan. As in many Central Asian countries, the bread there is sold in large, flattish rounds, shiny-crusted on the outside, white and fluffy on theContinue reading “‘Bread is quiet, mute’ [book review]”

‘Lost when she woke up to die’ [book review]

A review of Dead Girls by Selva Almada, translated from the Spanish by Annie McDermott Some books are hard to write about. Selva Almada’s Dead Girls is one of them. Hard to write about, and in many ways hard to read as well – though this is purely in terms of the content with whichContinue reading “‘Lost when she woke up to die’ [book review]”

‘Time could be cleansed with a new name’ [book review]

A review of The Bells of Old Tokyo: Travels in Japanese Time by Anna Sherman It’s been a while since I cried over a book and, it must be said, I didn’t expect it to be this one. ‘Kitasuna’, the chapter in Anna Sherman’s The Bells of Old Tokyo that sees her visiting a museumContinue reading “‘Time could be cleansed with a new name’ [book review]”

‘The past is a moving target’ [book review]

A review of Inge’s War by Svenja O’Donnell A couple of weeks ago I mentioned how publishing – in the UK, at least – seems to have a bit of a thing for war stories at the moment. Several fine Second World War memoirs and histories have been published in recent months and years, manyContinue reading “‘The past is a moving target’ [book review]”

‘To prove that goodness could endure’ [book review]

A review of The Volunteer by Jack Fairweather It really is remarkable, the story of The Volunteer. Jack Fairweather’s Costa Award-winning biography, a work of impressive research, portrays the hitherto largely untold life of Witold Pilecki, a leader of the Polish resistance in World War II who in 1940 volunteered to be arrested and sentContinue reading “‘To prove that goodness could endure’ [book review]”