RaveThe Sunday Times (UK)... a remarkable novel ... Original and often very funny, The Liar’s Dictionary is an offbeat exploration of both the delights of language and its limitations.
Emmanuel Carrere Trans. by John Lambert
MixedThe Times (UK)... a useful introduction to those more substantial works ... Carrère’s work can be uneven. At his worst, he resembles a caricature of a French intellectual. His nine short columns for an Italian magazine, with their relentlessly tedious over-analysis of his and his friends’ sex lives, are near unreadable. But at his best, as he is in so much of this collection, he creates reportage that, with its insight and humanity, is closer to literature than journalism.
RaveThe Times (UK)Krasikov\'s stories are all filled with characters who have other lives playing at low volume underneath the ones they are currently enjoying (or, more often, enduring). They are economic migrants who have travelled from the republics of the old Soviet Union to the United States in search of better times that have proved elusive ... Isolated and disorientated in exile, many of Krasikov\'s characters look to love to give new shape to their lives, but they are destined for disappointment ... Her gift, like that of many of the best short-story writers, is to be able to hint at a larger narrative unfolding outside the confines of the tale she is telling. Past histories are filled out with a telling sentence or paragraph. Characters are given depth by a word or phrase.
RaveThe Times (UK)Harris’s premise is not original, of course. It has been used before in science fiction, most notably in Walter M Miller’s cult classic A Canticle for Leibowitz (1959). However, Harris is not a writer of science fiction. He is working in a very different tradition, that of the British adventure story, which dates back to John Buchan and, arguably, to late-Victorian works by Robert Louis Stevenson and Conan Doyle. Novels in this tradition are often better written and more interesting than the overtly \'literary\' fiction of their day ... That is certainly the case with The Second Sleep. On one level, it is a thoroughly absorbing, page-turning narrative in which the author, with his customary storytelling skills, pulls us ever deeper into the imaginative world he has created. On another, it poses challenging questions about the meaning of the past, the idea of progress and the stability of civilisation. It is a fine addition to Harris’s diverse body of work.
Julia Blackburn, Illus. Enrique Brinkmann
MixedThe Times (UK)Anyone in search of a conventional account of this North Sea Atlantis and what we know about it needs to look elsewhere ... Time Song offers something very different. It is a peculiar bricolage of personal reminiscence, contemplation of loss after the death of her husband, encounters with eccentric individuals committed to the unearthing of the distant past, vivid descriptions of fossils, shells and bones that bear witness to that past ... There are many beauties to be found in Blackburn’s writing, particularly when she turns an observant eye on landscapes and the evidence they provide of the prehistoric peoples who inhabited them, but Time Song proves confusing more often than it does enlightening.
RaveThe TimesNovels set in the Victorian era are routinely described as \'Dickensian\'. Few of them warrant the adjective. However, in its evocation of the seething energy of 1850s London, its immersion in the detail of the 19th-century city’s everyday life and in its fascination with the macabre and the eccentric, Elizabeth Macneal’s debut novel does feel genuinely Dickensian. Add a keen exploration of the restrictions that were placed on women and the possessiveness of men, and you get a remarkable example of historical fiction ... Macneal charts her heroine’s quest to escape her confinements, metaphorical and actual, by the men who admire her in a story full of life, colour and intelligence.
Tiffany Watt Smith
PositiveThe Sunday TimesHer treatise on one of the most shame-inducing but widespread of all emotions is funny and insightful. She shows how \'the revenge of the impotent,\' as Nietzsche described it, touches on subjects that animate us all (from hatred of hypocrisy to the punishment of hubris). She reveals its influence in the workplace and on social media, in politics and in our love lives.
Robert Olen Butler
MixedThe Times (UK)\"Butler’s story occasionally seems too dependent on coincidence and chance encounters to ring true, but this is a thriller of great depth and intelligence.\
PositiveThe Times (UK)\"In Mason’s powerful tale of individuals caught up in world-changing events, Lucius’s meandering search for his lost love also becomes a journey towards some kind of redemption from the horrors he has witnessed.\
RaveThe Times (UK)Bernie’s search rapidly leads him into dark waters and a labyrinthine plot to salvage sunken gold stolen in the war from the Jews of Salonika. What follows, full of mordant humor, pacy action and rich, three-dimensional characters, confirms what Kerr’s fans have long known: that he has few, if any, rivals to match him among modern thriller writers.
RaveThe Times (UK)\"What follows, full of mordant humour, pacy action and rich, three-dimensional characters, confirms what Kerr’s fans have long known: that he has few, if any, rivals to match him among modern thriller writers.\
PositiveThe Times (UK)\"Fans of Laurel and Hardy might feel outraged by the portrait of Stan Laurel painted by John Connolly in he. There is little here of the lovable innocence of the star’s screen persona. Instead we are shown a troubled, difficult man who drinks heavily, screws up his relationships with women and broods about the unmatchable genius of Charlie Chaplin, whose understudy he had once been ... Connolly uses some stylistic eccentricities in telling his tale. Laurel is never referred to by name, only as \'he,\' but every other man in the book has his name written out in full. Initially disconcerting, the usage soon comes to seem no more than a further reflection of the originality of this fine novel.\
PositiveThe Times (UK)\"...he has written this raw, compelling memoir to exorcise his demons. Cantu offers no easy solutions to the intractable problems of the US-Mexican border, but The Line Becomes a River offers an eloquent rebuke to all those who look to build walls rather than bridges between people.\