RaveThe GuardianLike the great protagonists of Russian fiction, Kelman’s characters, no matter how little money or formal education they possess, are lit up by their own sensibilities and 'soul.' Dirt Road is steeped in this tradition ... Dirt Road is not only a novel about a boy’s journey through music away from the paralysis of grief, it is also about race. With ease, Kelman’s narrative moves away from his previous settings in Scotland and England and focuses on the realities of a country in which the divisions between black and white are livid and dangerous ... In Dirt Road we see him continuing to show how human experience can be energised and renewed by its modest scale, not flattened by it into a stereotype. It is another masterpiece from one of our best writers.
PositiveThe GuardianApparently a classic example of 19th-century narrative, set in the 19th century, with all the right-sounding syntax, clothing and props, the project twists into another shape altogether as we read, and continue to read … But it is also a massive shaggy dog story; a great empty bag; an enormous, wicked, gleeful cheat. For nothing in this enormous book, with its exotic and varied cast of characters whose lives all affect each other and whose fates are intricately entwined, amounts to anything like the moral and emotional weight one would expect of it. That's the point, in the end, I think, of The Luminaries … It is a curious act of double-writing that Catton has achieved – that she could write more and more about a thing, only to have it matter less and less. The characters don't gain depth as the story proceeds; they slip further away from us.
RaveThe GuardianGrief Is the Thing With Feathers is the most exquisite little flight of a story captured between hardback covers, and its appearance has been crafted to show us that we are in for something unusual. This deeply moving book about death and its grief-stricken consolations – love and art – appears to be no more than a scattering of text, dialogue and poetry that lifts and settles on the page, the frailest sort of thing. Yet as we read on, we become aware that the way it has been put together is robust indeed ... Risking the rigours of its intellectual and aesthetic endeavour through extreme compression, Porter’s story becomes a profound meditation on the difficulty of writing about love and loss.
RaveThe GuardianIt’s as though, by not ever quite knowing what this book is about, we are drawn further and further into its complicated and fabulously intelligent interior. Full of film references and critiques, essays and lists, Innocents and Others puts information and theory in the place where in other novels a 'character' might reside ... Innocents and Others is also about looking, seeing, paying attention, asking ourselves if we can ever know the full story, ever really understand what makes a person tick. Rather than embodying the traditional idea of the novel as a character portrait, it’s more as if the page we are reading is a sort of film in itself, flickering before us in a sequence of events and images and ideas ... if that sounds dull, it shouldn’t, because every sentence is full of information and verve, jumping with thoughtfulness and precision and, like that flash of white teeth, the unexpected.