of Meetings by Martin Amis
is the simple-minded accusation that the novel 'lacks authenticity'
because the writer has not suffered these horrors first-hand. Had the
imagination at work here convinced, though, this wouldn't have been
an issue. The problem is that the imagination doesn't work, and nor
does the prose style.
Me Disappear by Jill Dawson
Tina and all her friends had their 'dodgy encounter growing up'. The
dirty old man. The flasher. It was accepted, a 'giggle with your mates'.
Only now does she wonder how these 'encounters' might have featured
in the papers the next day if things had turned out different.
Seymour Tapes by Tim Lott
The motif underlying
the main narrative is that this new technology is a baleful influence
on the lives of his characters and, while not perhaps causing dissonance,
certainly amplifies it, furnishing alluring temptations which lead the
husband, encouraged by his accomplice, to a sticky end.
of a Superhero by Anthony McCarten
What's really enjoyable
about Death of a Superhero is that it is genuinely surprising.
In a brave move, the author takes an admittedly hackneyed theme and
gives it several unexpected twists.
Beauty by Zadie Smith
its award-winning profile, and in fulfilment of Smith's eloquent spokesperson's
position on her trade, On Beauty is also a novel infused with a vision
of what the novel is for. This is both its greatest strength, and its
in the Light by Zoë Wicomb
‘Playing in the
light’ is a term used here to describe the actions of coloured people
who were pale enough to be ‘generally accepted as a white person’ and
so dared to traverse the rigid racial borders with hard-won paperwork
to find a place in the privileged world of white South Africa.
Scent of Your Breath by Melissa P.
caused an international stir with her graphic descriptions of the sexual
degradations of an eighteen-year-old Catholic schoolgirl. But
underneath the pretence of being controversial and shocking, all the
cunts and cocaine, there beats a heart just as delicate and conservative
as Mary Whitehouse’s.
Up Architecture by Eliza
novel offers an interesting take on World War II - an exploration of its
impact on the lives of two young people in post-war Britain.
But where do stories of admirable resilience against the odds turn into
a mawkish preoccupation with a destructive period of our history?
Fairy Negro Tales
by Inua Ellam;
ex chaos by James Wilkes
2 gr8 yung r1trz U shd chek
out... These are remarkable debuts by writers in their early and mid-twenties,
displaying not only economy of expression but also great lyrical flair
and emotional integrity.
fear of Death, Roth shows us, might be the fear of the life we could
have, maybe should have led. His ‘unchangeable’ story of man stalked
by thoughts of his own demise may be a lesson in ‘how to die’. It is
also - perhaps because of this - a lesson in how to live.
premise is as spare, elegant and self-referential as his prose. In an unnamed capital city, over seventy
percent of voters cast blank ballots. But Saramago
fails to convey the source of the sense of urgency that fills government
officials as the scale of the blank ballots becomes apparent.
Tourism by Nirpal Singh Dhaliwal
It's not clear what difficult issue Dhaliwal is confronting. Is it that
Britain's Asian youth are torn between the pious repression of their
upbringing and the fleshly delights of the West? Is it that gay men
can't help but throw themselves at Johal's feet any time he flutters
his crotch at them?
Demo by Alison Miller
The reader is reminded on numerous occasions of the tensions between
Standard English and other dialects of the British Isles. It is almost
as though the reader is being lectured on both contemporary political
issues and ways in which to express them through a novel.
and Circle by Seamus Heaney
The principle narrative vehicle in much of District and Circle is myth.
But whilst in his previous collection, Electric Light, Heaney wears
his learning rather awkwardly, here he's found a means of reconciling
the classical allusions and nods to his peers with the muscular sound-language
that's become his trademark.
Worms Can Carry Me to Heaven by Alan Warner
Throughout the novel it feels as if Warner's intentions have got lost
in translation. Significantly, Lolo's most powerful sexual experiences
have taken place where there is no meaningful verbal communication.
Sadly the lack of coherence in the novel does not translate any unspoken
intensity to the reader.
Picture She Took by Fiona Shaw
Simple by Lia Mills
set in very different times and places both novels are of the 21st century,
but Mills' novel somehow seems more true to the experiences of the people
she is writing about.
Disobedience by Naomi Alderman
The strength of the book is where Alderman displays her insight into
Jewish religion and customs, which adds depth and meaning to the situations
of the characters. The novel has more originality and freshness when
Alderman allows her own presence to be diminished.
History of Love by Nicole Krauss
The other problem lies in the perfection of the writing and the book's
construction. Its over-cleverness stops one from being swept along.
I felt as if I was playing pelminism - even on the second reading, I
was flicking backwards and forwards picking up clues.
Human Season by Louise Dean
The novel accurately depicts the lives of people involved with the Troubles
during the dirty protests. The humour in adversity is well-judged, but
the disappointment is that a rare novel set in this period fails to
reflect the proactive role of women involved in the struggle.
Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster
'The Book Of Human Folly', the Borges-lite title of Auster's book-within-a-book
is, in fact, a sly definition of the overlapping stories that The Brooklyn
Follies unveils. Auster presents a cast of variously flawed and sullied
characters, who develop throughout the narrative and are finally redeemed
at the novel's close.
Possibility of an Island by Michel Houellebecq
His critique is relentlessly literal and forcefully unsubtle. Houellebecq's
outrageous naughtiness, nihilistic misery and crude sexiness appeal
to the inner teenager.