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‘Making up a story felt like a plaster’ [book review]

A review of Auē by Becky Manawatu In the glossary at the end of Becky Manawatu’s searing debut, the Māori word ‘auē’ is defined as an ‘interjection showing distress’, or as a verb: ‘to cry, wail, howl’. As a title, it couldn’t be more perfect: Auē is indeed a howl of a novel, a longContinue reading ‘Making up a story felt like a plaster’ [book review]

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‘We are the shelter we seek out in others’ [book review]

A review of Homesick by Jennifer Croft Homesick opens with a tornado warning. In their family home in Oklahoma, sisters Amy and Zoe shelter in the pantry, nestled among supplies with a torch and selected toys, waiting until the storm has passed and their parents come to fetch them. The girls do this so often,Continue reading ‘We are the shelter we seek out in others’ [book review]

‘A certain sense of weight and precision’ [book review]

A review of Cold Enough for Snow by Jessica Au In a busy street outside a station in Tokyo, the ground is ‘not asphalt, but a series of small, square tiles, if you cared enough to notice’. So we are informed by the narrator of Jessica Au’s Cold Enough for Snow, in an opening passageContinue reading ‘A certain sense of weight and precision’ [book review]

‘Not feeling is a feeling too’ [book review]

A review of Tides by Sara Freeman Slipping quietly into the new year comes Tides, the carefully crafted, deeply felt debut novel by Canadian-British author Sara Freeman. With its sparse mode of expression, striking imagery and experimental structure, it is a book that tries to be many things at once – but, when all thatContinue reading ‘Not feeling is a feeling too’ [book review]

‘Everything’s going backward’ [book review]

A review of Bewilderment by Richard Powers ‘Moving’ is the word I have most often seen describing Richard Powers’s new novel, Bewilderment. The reviewers and blurb writers aren’t wrong: any novel about a widowed father trying to help his fragile son negotiate the horrors of the world we humans have created is – unless somethingContinue reading ‘Everything’s going backward’ [book review]

‘This cremation ground at the end of the world’ [book review]

A review of A Passage North by Anuk Arudpragasam It comes as no surprise to learn that Anuk Arudpragasam is a philosopher. The Sri Lankan-born author holds a doctorate in the subject from Columbia University, which is reflected in the marked philosophical bent to his writing. The opening pages of A Passage North, his secondContinue reading ‘This cremation ground at the end of the world’ [book review]

‘Two women doing their best in their world’ [book review]

A review of The Son of the House by Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia It may be titled The Son of the House, but the debut novel by Nigerian author Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia is a work of literature all about women. Women and, more broadly, Nigeria – a country that undergoes great social and political changes over the courseContinue reading ‘Two women doing their best in their world’ [book review]

The Monthly Booking: June 2021

Summer is almost upon us, and my birthday is this month – two excellent reasons to finally pick up a rather large book I’ve been looking at but not reading for roughly a year. In all its almost-1000-page glory, The Eighth Life has become something of a legend: longlisted for last year’s International Booker PrizeContinue reading The Monthly Booking: June 2021

‘The tumult of youth’ [book review]

A review of Heatstroke by Hazel Barkworth There is a point in Heatstroke at which everything changes. It is strangely hard to pin it down, the exact moment, and it may well be different for every reader, but the sudden certainty that my nagging suspicion was correct came as something of a relief. Despite theContinue reading ‘The tumult of youth’ [book review]

‘Part of the dictionary we think we should carry’ [book review]

A review of The Yield by Tara June Winch Anyone who has ever doubted the power of language to bring people together and tear them apart would do well to read Tara June Winch’s The Yield with all possible haste. This remarkable novel is a deep and moving exploration of the role words play inContinue reading ‘Part of the dictionary we think we should carry’ [book review]