The Best Books of 2020

It isn’t easy to write a ‘best books of the year’ post. First of all, I hate being asked to choose anything. Secondly, posts of this format mushroom at this time of year – and how many, I wonder, do we really need? All the same, I decided it would be a useful exercise (andContinue reading The Best Books of 2020

‘A thousand ordinary days’ [book review]

A review of The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields ‘I have never written with such happiness,’ wrote Carol Shields in a 2001 afterword to her award-winning novel of the previous decade, The Stone Diaries. Though she goes on to enumerate several reasons why she found the creation of this particular book to be such anContinue reading ‘A thousand ordinary days’ [book review]

‘A city behind a city’ [book review]

A review of The Book of Rio, edited by Toni Marques and Katie Slade Rio de Janeiro is a city of many faces. This is something Toni Marques makes abundantly clear in his introduction to The Book of Rio, one of the earlier titles in Comma Press’s wonderful ‘Reading the City’ series. Often fondly imaginedContinue reading ‘A city behind a city’ [book review]

The Monthly Booking: December 2020

Reading has meant a lot this year. I’ve heard many people say that recent events have totally destroyed their concentration, but whatever else has been happening – and however hard I may have found it to concentrate on other things – reading has been a constant and calming presence over the last twelve months. I’mContinue reading The Monthly Booking: December 2020

‘From smooth to rough, then rough to smooth’ [book review]

A review of She-Clown and Other Stories by Hannah Vincent They may not have the weight of a novel, but when it comes to writing fiction, short stories are amongst the hardest challenges out there. The trick – or one of them, for there are many – is in knowing where to start and, moreContinue reading ‘From smooth to rough, then rough to smooth’ [book review]

‘The outsiders of the greenhouse’ [book review]

A review of Bezoar and Other Unsettling Stories by Guadalupe Nettel, translated from the Spanish by Suzanne Jill Levine ‘The skin of an eyelid is unexpectedly delicate,’ explains the narrator of‘Ptosis’, the opening story in Guadalupe Nettel’s fascinating collection, Bezoar and Other Unsettling Stories. The Mexican author’s third title to appear in English, here inContinue reading ‘The outsiders of the greenhouse’ [book review]

‘A chronology of scars’ [book review]

A review of Theatre of War by Andrea Jeftanovic, translated from the Spanish by Frances Riddle It’s been a downright brilliant year for Charco Press titles, a feeling that can only be compounded by the Edinburgh-based press’s final publication of 2020. Andrea Jeftanovic’s Theatre of War is a firecracker of a novel, structurally ambitious andContinue reading ‘A chronology of scars’ [book review]

‘The house was the story’ [book review]

A review of The Dutch House by Ann Patchett Every now and then we’re all in need of a good story. And when it comes to getting lost in a truly great book, Ann Patchett is an ever-reliable address. The award-winning author’s latest novel, The Dutch House, is one of those bestsellers that has beenContinue reading ‘The house was the story’ [book review]

‘Oscillating endlessly between history and story’ [book review]

A review of Resistance by Julián Fuks, translated from the Portuguese by Daniel Hahn It can be difficult to know where to start with a book like Resistance. The list of quotes I have noted down seems unfathomably long, and even a couple of days after finishing I keep thinking of new things it wasContinue reading ‘Oscillating endlessly between history and story’ [book review]

‘Too bad for the facts’ [book review]

A review of The Masochist by Katja Perat, translated from the Slovenian by Michael Biggins ‘If the facts indicate otherwise, then too bad for the facts.’ So begins Katja Perat’s novel The Masochist, newly translated into English by Michael Biggins and published this week by Istros Books. The latest in a line of bold andContinue reading ‘Too bad for the facts’ [book review]

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