RaveThe Sunday Times (UK)\"... a tremendous document about the richness of inner life ... For a book where not much happens, there is plenty in here for future PhD students to get their striving, anxious hands all over. Bennett is a marvellous writer, and it is rare to feel the sensations of another mind as vividly as in this radiant novel.
RaveThe Sunday Times (UK)Within his limitations—and it is his limitations Adam Mars-Jones really wants to explore—Barry is a clever, funny and anecdotal narrator, and on one level this book is a cracking read. It is also written with a sharp social observation that could easily have made it an exercise in applied snobbery, but Barry is not just the butt of Mars-Jones’s condescension. The overall stance is more like compassion, which makes Batlava Lake a more complex and ultimately rather beautiful book.
PositiveThe Sunday Times (UK)More playful and satirical than Orwell, Eggers’s digital totalitarianism is a touchy-feely affair; where Orwell has the boot on the face, Eggers has online shopping and emojis. But it is no less of a serious warning and, just as 1984 was about tendencies in 1948, so Eggers has skewered trends already controlling our modern world ... With a few extra turns of the screw, Eggers conjures up a frighteningly plausible near-future that is both believable in small details and inspired in larger developments ... Orwell has the edge on Eggers when it comes to characterisation and plot, and The Every occasionally feels overlong, but it scores as a series of brilliant set pieces and a devastating overall critique. It should become a rallying point against what Eggers calls \'species altering\' technology, threatening to abolish the free human. And, if nothing else, he has probably launched some new terms and concepts, not least the radical identity of being a \'trog\'.
PositiveThe Times (UK)William gets plenty of male commiseration about the difficulty of staying with one woman, and some dubious wisdom on the tribulations of marriage: Above the buddy bonding and the father figures, this is ultimately a book about the transcendent value of great art, and in its slightly overblown way it communicates a real power.
PositiveThe Times Literary Supplement (UK)The biographer’s determination to find the best in his namesake can also be seen in his treatment of Greene’s loyalty to the high-ranking traitor Kim Philby – his former boss in MI6 – which has long been a festering sore in the novelist’s larger reputation ... The more introspective Greene is largely missing from this book, with a whole absent dimension including his wonderful dreams ... his well-developed fondness for smoking opium is also beautifully discussed in his own writing. His biographer makes disapproving short shrift of this, and when Greene the writer describes the pleasure of opium as \'intellectual\', Greene the biographer feels the need to add \'– whatever that means\' ... For all that, this book has very real strengths within its chosen field of Greene’s public career as an engaged writer, concerned with international human rights, set within the context of twentieth-century history ... There are even odd little nuggets which seem to have eluded Norman Sherry ... Both Greenes come out of The Unquiet Englishman as decent men, and although it doesn’t supersede either of the previous major biographies, its distinct approach makes it a very worthwhile addition. If this more wholesome picture of Greene just occasionally fails to convince, there are more occasions when it does.
J. S. Barnes
RaveThe Times Literary Supplement (UK)Many a reader might feel no more than modest enthusiasm for the reams of period pastiche on offer in J. S. Barnes’s new novel. But that would be a pity, because this boldly inventive sequel to Dracula rips along with a sustained energy and verve, twisting and turning all the way to the supposed editor’s epilogue ... several new and memorable characters ... The far-right can be a rather hackneyed and convenient bogey, as in some anti-fascist productions of Shakespeare, but it fits here with a villain who is nothing if not feudal, while the malign populism and rapid normalization of the bizarre has something eerily contemporary about it.
PositiveThe Times (UK)... a visceral, elemental performance ... has a familiar American preoccupation with survivalism, and it is dense with believable detail.
PositiveThe Times Literary SupplementThis mockery of artistic ambition complements the relatively slight nature of the book, which is unashamedly a five-finger exercise in comparison to the aspirations of some of McEwan’s earlier work...There is something rather comfortable about it, which extends to the satire ... a consummately well-orchestrated performance, and the feel of a major artist operating at something less than full blast gives it a smoothness and a sense of capacity in reserve.
PositiveThe TimesThere’s nothing like a striking beginning, and \'The day Somebody McSomebody put a gun to my breast and called me a cat and threatened to shoot me was the same day the milkman died\' isn’t bad ... an eccentric and oddly beguiling novel ... what makes it memorable is the funny, alienated, common-sensical voice of middle sister.
RaveThe Guardian...[an] exceptional biography ... This is a superb book, more tangly, obsessive and excitable than previous biographies, and in that sense more in tune with its subject. It is packed with interest from the early days in Bath with his mother to the last debt-ridden days in Edinburgh.
PositiveThe GuardianSante takes the Paris catacombs, with their thousands upon thousands of anonymous skulls, as an image of his project to commemorate countless unknown lives. It is a selective picture of an extreme and marginal city – Santeville, we could call it – but elegiac points emerge not only about Paris but great cities in general.