Vasily Grossman, trans. by Elizabeth Chandler and Robert Chandler
RaveThe Spectator (UK)The People Immortal was intended primarily as propaganda ... The Soviet people are depicted as defending their motherland in prose that swells like a patriotic chorus by Prokofiev ... The Chandlers and the Russian editor, Julia Volhova, have reinstated many passages excised from the original by other editors, censors and Grossman himself, making for a richer, more complex novel. Its greatest strength lies in its authenticity, with several characters modelled on real-life figures and much of the description drawn from personal testimony. Grossman combines a journalist’s eye with a novelist’s empathy, his portrayal of men under fire matching that of Erich Remarque and Stephen Crane.
MixedThe Spectator (UK)Her fidelity to Dickens’s plot is an increasing distraction ... Rather than feeling for the characters’ wasted and brutalised lives, the reader is too busy focusing on Kingsolver’s virtuosic reworking of their models ... The narrative voice is a tour de force ... Demon...speaks in the authentic voice of a confused adolescent: breathlessly intense, sharp, knowing, full of pop-cultural references and increasingly hormonal. It’s the most powerful ventriloquist act by a female American author since Laura Albert assumed the identity of JT LeRoy.
Andrew Sean Greer
MixedThe Financial Times\"...his misfortunes are not as engaging the second time round. In the first place, there is considerably less at stake ... One longs for the bite that Edward St. Aubyn brought to the subject in his 2014 novel Lost for Words. Likewise, several of Greer\'s stylistic tics are labored ... The novel\'s saving grace is its comedy, both of character and language ... Greer\'s whimsically Wodehousian metaphors are as delightful as ever.\
PositiveFinancial Times (UK)Its setting proves to be as stark and claustrophobic as that of her celebrated Room ... Donoghue excels in creating not just a world but a worldview that is far removed from our own ... The one false note in the book is the eleventh-hour revelation of Trian’s androgyny, which serves little purpose and seems sensational. Otherwise, this is a bold, thoughtful novel, whose austerity matches its setting.
PositiveFinancial Times (UK)Truly Madly adds little to its predecessors, other than a detailed analysis of Leigh’s mental illness, but it is a pacy — at times, racy — account ... Galloway paints a sympathetic portrait of a couple who loved each other too much and understood each other too little.
RaveSpectator (UK)Hamilton has great fun with the conceit of the book as its own narrator ... Yet Hamilton’s underlying purpose is deeply serious. With considerable subtlety he shows contemporary horrors mirroring those of almost a century ago ... As befits its narrator, The Pages is full of literary references, in particular to other accounts of love and lovemaking. It offers a richly detailed portrait of Roth himself ... At once allusive, playful, contemplative and consequential, The Pages is a remarkable novel, worthy of its great antecedent.
PanFinancial Times (UK)One of the peculiarities of the book is that it is mainly set in 2050—although little is made of this, except for the odd jokey allusion to the past, such as White’s disingenuous references to himself as \'the forgotten gay novelist of the twentieth century\'. Which begs the question of why anyone should care whether Ruggero had ruined the life of such a neglected figure ... Among the many puzzles of the book is why Constance, who purportedly wrote its final chapters, should choose to focus on the affair between her former husband and a man who died before they met. She has long been sidelined, just as the original premise of the related histories has been discarded. As if to pre-empt criticism of the overfamiliar material, Edmund White the character maintains that \'writers long in the tooth started repeating themselves\'. It is hard to deny the sense of Edmund White the author being a prime offender.
PositiveFinancial Times (UK)\"Whatever doubts Doc may have about Thomas’s visual record, the reader will have none about McGregor’s verbal one. After a luminous description of the glacial terrain, both cinematic and poetic, he offers a harrowing account of men at the mercy of the elements. This section has an almost Conradian power ... McGregor’s supreme achievement in the novel is his intimate portrait of aphasia ... This final section of the novel is the least successful ... McGregor has shown himself a master of multi-viewpoint narrative, but his touch here is less controlled. The shift in focus between the various group members is clumsy, and his depiction of Amira’s methods and concerns somewhat flat. Far more impressive is his recreation of the individual stroke victims’ speech patterns. McGregor’s great skill is to reveal the internal logic behind their apparent incoherence ... McGregor’s precise, well-judged prose attests both to the power of language and to the havoc created by its loss.
RaveThe Spectator (AUS)With material as rich as this it is no surprise that Tóibín sticks scrupulously to the documented accounts of Mann’s life, expertly weaving together details from his autobiographical writings and his own and others’ letters and diaries. Tóibín’s great achievement is his imagining of Mann’s interior life in all its intellectual achievement and emotional muddle ... Tóibín is equally insightful on the nature of literary creation, revealing the intimate connection between Mann’s life and work ... It is a considerable feat of literary empathy, which transports the reader back to some of the key events of the 20th century and into the mind of one of its master chroniclers.