RaveThe Financial Times (UK)Through...skilful deployment of language, Meek manages to craft a living, breathing world populated with characters that come alive in the mind ... Although the medieval world Meek conjures here is an entirely foreign land, it’s hard not to read the novel with an eye on contemporary events ... An established way of life is threatened by the imminent arrival of a cataclysm (here the Black Death bringing to mind the climate emergency); and Meek raises questions of sexual and gender identity ...This is a fine novel that seems to speak across centuries with more than the likeness of truth.
RaveFinancial Times (UK)\"The accretion of detail, of nuance, of language are at the heart of McBride’s work. And Strange Hotel, her third book, is a powerful demonstration of her ability to marshal words to peerless effect ... This first section is rich in suspense, confidently cut through with an absurd humour ... McBride cleverly drip-feeds information, rounding out her character, probing her damaged self and exploring what might have caused her to be roaming the world’s hotels, engaging in an endless stream of one-night stands ... the simplicity of the tale belies the deep psychological complexity it explores ... McBride’s fractured, fluid indirect style captures the newness of past events, constantly alive in the mind ... The language is...tortured—if exquisitely deployed ... Once inside the discursive thought process of this woman, her sadness, trauma, loneliness and grief come fully alive ... Strange Hotel is a finely controlled, complex and emotionally absorbing novel that manages to burrow deep into the heart of something essential about the human experiences of love and loss. That’s quite an achievement in so short a work.
PanThe Financial TimesWhat purpose does all this serve? After numerous insider accounts of Trump’s White House antics and as the impeachment proceedings rumble on, Eggers’ novella reads less like the biting satire it hopes to be and more like a quick primer on Trump’s presidency so far, albeit one wrapped in a thin veneer of fiction ... the book fails to be more troubling, more shocking than the world as it already is. In our hyper-satirical age, Eggers’ proposal is just too modest.
RaveFinancial Times (UK)\"A Month in Siena bears all the hallmarks of Matar’s writing: it is exquisitely constructed and the use of language is precise and delicately nuanced without pretension. And there is a deceptive simplicity to his endeavour: to look at art. What emerges is an altogether more complex philosophical exploration of death, love, art, relationships and time ... As he communes for days with a single painting, it reveals itself to him—and him to himself.
PositiveFinancial Times (UK)Here, in his 16th novel, Jacobson (with what his publishers inevitably describe as his \'trademark wit\') gives us a glorious odd couple not so much in their autumn years as at the doors of death ... Jacobson...is an established chronicler of the lives, loves and libidos of the British Jewish community... His exceedingly funny and discursive prose style often belies more serious observations on life, as is the case here ... despite the inherent tragedy of being human — the inevitability of death and the passing of time — Jacobson’s message isn’t bleak. \'You should never suppose you know the story of your life until it’s over,\' he writes in this tender, insightful novel. There are opportunities for humour, redemption and hope regardless of how close the end is.
PositiveThe Financial TimesOn the surface, Dream Sequence couldn’t be more different to Foulds’ past work ... an utterly contemporary novel concerned with fame, social media, success, failure and obsession ... But where there is a similarity is in the way Foulds once again brings his psychological acuity to bear on characters bound within claustrophobic lives that they long to escape ... The sections on Henry in particular bring to mind Don DeLillo’s shorter, pared down novels ... [a] lucid, richly detailed and tense novel.
PositiveFinancial Times\"... In My Mind’s Eye offers strong opinions, wryly delivered ... For readers who have been involved in an ongoing conversation with Morris over the past five decades, these little gems will amuse and occasionally enlighten ... The beauty of Morris’ work is how she takes the reader along in a dialogue. Her style is chatty, loose and engaging.\
RaveFinancial Times\"To a reader not well versed in the cosmology of the Igbo spiritual tradition, the opening pages are something of a puzzle to be deciphered with the help of a chart at the front laying out the process of reincarnation and the composition of man. But stick with it and the rewards are great ... what emerges is an intricately wrought and powerful study of a man caught in the jaws of fate ... There is also a powerful political and historical message here too ... This is a powerful, multifarious novel that underlines Obioma’s status as one of the most exciting voices in modern African literature.\
PositiveFinancial Times\"Lipsyte’s satire runs rich and deep. His sentences roil with a kind of mania. And the novel is very funny — at least until towards the end, when it isn’t. Then, the zaniness and pyrotechnics give way to a sense of something real and serious. In Hark, Lipsyte is on to something big. But he unleashes too many arrows at too many targets, from tech gurus to parenting styles, from food fads to the modern workplace, and in so doing misses the bullseye.\
MixedThe Financial TimesRyan is an accomplished stylist; delicately and effortlessly, he renders the cadences of everyday speech. His imagery, too is succinct ... Yet for all Ryan’s beautiful writing, the novel never amounts to anything more than the sum of its parts. The final section, in which the characters come together, is intended to be a moment of tragedy and pathos, but is bathetic, trivial. I couldn’t help but feel that had Ryan allowed himself to stray further, to follow Farouk’s journey, leave Lampy and John at home, From a Low and Quiet Sea might have matched his dazzling talent.
RaveThe Financial TimesIn a delicately woven narrative ... The cycle of violence, Powers argues, doesn’t end with the civil war; with the victory of the Union and the abolition of slavery, one world ends and another begins, yet violence is so ingrained that it is handed down the generations ... The writing is beautiful and powerful; Powers...has a lyrical, effortless style. A Shout in the Ruins is confirmation, if it were needed, that Kevin Powers is a writer of rare talent.
PositiveThe Financial Times\"First Person is both comic and frightening. At times I caught a glimpse of Money-era Martin Amis in Flanagan’s satirical asides on the Australian publishing industry ... Yet there are also passages touched with the virtuosity that shone so brightly in The Narrow Road that are pure Flanagan ... Although structurally Flanagan struggles to reconcile the comedy and tragedy, and his musings on fact versus fiction, the self versus the collective, into a distinct whole, First Person, too, is studded with sharp, breath-catching observations about the finite nature of life.\
PositiveFinancial Times (UK)The Great American Novel has been written many times ... Yet these national epics have — you might conclude after reading The Overstory — failed to see the wood for the trees. They’ve been too wrapped up in the lives of mere humans. Richard Powers’ 12th novel is a rare specimen: a Great American Eco-Novel ... The message here is that of Dr Seuss: like the Lorax, these clear-eyed activists (Powers, too) \'speak for the trees\' while short-termist Once-lers go right on \'biggering\' their logging operations ... This is a good story. It will change the way you look at trees.
RaveThe Financial TimesJust when you think things couldn’t get any worse for our roguish protagonist, things continue their downward spiral ... Dunthorne is similarly cold-blooded in his treatment of Ray, a figure you simultaneously feel empathy for, yet wouldn’t mind seeing a little sense knocked into ... Dunthorne — also a published poet — has a humorous, well-observed precision to his writing ... It makes for a slim novel (just shy of 200 pages) that feels at once entirely true to its city, characters and moment, but also a broader, wry and angry comment on our times.
PositiveThe Financial TimesAlthough recounted in often repetitive detail (the sandwiches eaten and T-shirts worn are documented along the way), the seeming lightness of the novel’s slim plot is freighted with meaning ... Although Murdo’s naive narrative style captures the essence of a teenager on the cusp of manhood struggling with grief, responsibility, desire and family, Kelman is far too accomplished a novelist to leave it there. Through the accretion of details, of everything said and unsaid, he probes the deep well of grief in both Murdo and his father ... Through father and son, Kelman sensitively explores the nature of choice and fate; Murdo slowly grows to recognise the circumstances that constrain the adults around him, whether it be jobs, money or family ... Dirt Road may not have quite the grit of Kelman’s previous work, and the novel’s ending, with Murdo heading off into the sunrise (rather than sunset), stretches plausibility, but the hopeful spirit in which Kelman allows Murdo to traverse both his grief and his adventure on the road makes for an engrossing and moving coming-of-age tale.
RaveThe Financial Times...[a] superb collection ... Her stories embrace 'plotless and pointless' real life, but then construct layers of insight ... tension is central to all of these stories; in various ways, they explore the essential unknowability of everyone around us. Lively appears to subscribe to Henry James’s memorable assessment: 'Never say you know the last word about any human heart.' The same might well be said of Lively herself.