RaveThe Guardian (UK)...The Big Short is not half the fun of Liar\'s Poker, but it is more important ... from these unpromising characters, Lewis creates magnificent financial set-pieces ... The slow collapse of the market through 2007 and 2008 makes terrific reading ... Lewis, who lives in Paris, is too worldly to make his parade of short misfits and fantasists into American heroes. In one of those moments of self-knowledge that strike even financiers, Eisman understands that he was shorting not Wall Street but humanity itself ... The American public has not yet grasped the nature and extent of this crime – but it will, it will.
Michel Houellebecq, trans. by Frank Wayne
PanThe Guardian (UK)A grown man, Houellebecq reads like an adolescent. Alternately timid and aggressive, solemn, hormonal, posturing, helpless, Houellebecq tosses stones through the windows of European polite speech and attitudes, then runs away ... The story works in its preposterous way because we are not engaging with reality. Too inhibited to address the reader directly, Houellebecq employs a series of ready-made literary styles: television game-show, holiday brochures, the Guide du Routard, genuine and pastiche social science, feuilleton historiography, the business press ... Remembering, no doubt, that he is offending against the rules of speech in polite society, Houellebecq brings on a pair of Muslim characters to criticise their religion and then depart ... For the smug British reader, Platform will seem nothing so much as a resurrection of the old anti-liberal, anti-semitic, anti-Dreyfusard tradition in French thought and society.
Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherman
PositiveThe GuardianThe tragic and heroic themes of Oppenheimer\'s life...have long appealed to those of a literary or dramatic turn. Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin, in a biography 30 years in the making, attempt instead to unravel the complications of a brilliant and vain human being ... In this long book, there is no mathematics and very little physics ... Here, as it were, are the cocktails and wire-taps and love affairs of Oppenheimer\'s existence, his looks and conversation, the way he smoked the cigarettes and pipe that killed him, his famous pork-pie hat and splayed walk, and all the tics and affectations that his students imitated and the patriots and military men despised ... The fine text is matched by fine photographs.
Orhan Pamuk, Trans. by Maureen Freely
MixedThe GuardianThe book is full of winning characters, from Ka himself to Blue, a handsome Islamist terrorist with the gift of the gab, an actor-manager and his wife who tour small Anatolian towns staging revolutionary plays and coups de main, and Serdar Bey, the local newspaper editor, who has a habit of writing up events and running them off his ancient presses before they occur … Yet there are literary judgments that some readers will question. The first is to omit Ka's poems. The green book has been lost or stolen and what remain are Ka's notes on how he came to write his 19 poems in Kars and how they might be arranged on the crystalline model of a snowflake. That is quite as dull as it sounds.