RaveThe Scotsman (UK)... absorbing ... The extended passage of stream-of-consciousness internal monologue...is subtly, ingeniously done ... there\'s a relentless, intoxicating flow to much of the writing, with ideas constantly spawning new ideas in a process of perpetual intellectual motion. That said, the writing still feels precision-tooled, the words carefully-chosen and the details equally carefully thought-through ... If and when the dust finally settles on the covid era, a handful of the many books it has inspired will eventually solidify into a sort of pandemic canon. It\'s perhaps not the kind of accolade that authors dream of, but this humane, thoughtful reflection on the experience of the last 18 months surely merits a place on any such list.
RaveThe Scotsman (UK)What really causes the story to leap from the page in three dimensions, though, is Mina\'s pin-sharp grasp of human psychology ... As told by Mina, [Rizzio] an electric and utterly absorbing battle of wills. Is it the truth\'? Of course, we can never know. It certainly feels like it.
PositiveThe ScotsmanBuilding up a sense of dread in a novel is a subtle art, and Sarah Moss is an absolute master of it ... the hints are so ambiguous and understated – and so apparently peripheral to the myriad concerns of the various characters – that they create more of a background hum of unease ... Summerwater has been described as a portrait of \'the many conflicting voices of Britain in microcosm\' and it certainly feels like an accurate reflection of our confused, scared, angsty present. Perhaps Moss’s point, though, is that we’re all so busy worrying about the things we can’t influence we’ve lost sight of the things we can.
RaveThe Scotsman (UK)Jones’s writing style is wonderfully pared back and impressionistic, and he has a knack for deploying staccato sentences and one-line paragraphs at moments of maximum drama to give the sense of time slowing down ... might not be quite as detached as the Dark Mountain Manifesto would seem to require – at its core it is really a love story – but a more powerful parable about the dangers of super-intelligent apes constructing \'sophisticated myths of their own importance\' is hard to imagine.
RaveThe Scotsman (UK)What’s the point of writing an unoriginal sentence? A predictable sentence? A sequence of words that has been committed to paper hundreds, perhaps thousands of times before? This seems to be Megan Hunter’s starting point whenever she sets out to write a novel … in The Harpy…flashes of inspiration are spread… sparingly through the text, and if anything this gives them even greater impact. Rather than trying to land a haymaker with every punch, it’s as if Hunter is learning how to box clever, adding more variety to her repertoire, ducking and weaving before landing a decisive blow … you can’t help wondering if this isn’t Hunter’s challenge to herself: to write a novel about infidelity that is somehow different from all the others that have been published before, and to find her own, original language to do it in … If that was her goal, she has succeeded on both counts. As already discussed, the original language part of the equation was never going to present her with too much difficulty, but she also manages to elevate her story to something that is at once rooted in the everyday and effortlessly transcends it … a gripping, psychologically astute account of a relationship in free-fall.
Carlos Manuel Álvarez
PositiveThe Spectator (UK)In chapters which alternate between the perspectives of the four family members, Álvarez slowly and cleverly builds up a picture of a family unit on the brink of collapse ... Although there are moments of delicious dark humour... The Fallen is, in the end, tragic, and surprisingly so, since for much its length the full facts of Armando’s situation are far from clear. The last few chapters, however, show a man struggling desperately to come to terms with the fact that the country he feels he has worked so hard to build is now thought of as an abject failure by his own children.
Carlos Manuel Álvarez
PositiveThe ScotsmanIn chapters which alternate between the perspectives of the four family members, Álvarez slowly and cleverly builds up a picture of a family unit on the brink of collapse ... Although there are moments of delicious dark humour...The Fallen is, in the end, tragic, and surprisingly so, since for much its length the full facts of Armando’s situation are far from clear.
RaveThe Scotsman (UK)... a richly imagined re-telling of the [true] story that gives it the timeless aura and allegorical undertones of an ancient Greek myth ... At times Lynch can be even more economical with language than Hemingway; often he simply states the bald facts of the situation and leaves the reader to infer what the characters’ thoughts might be ... rest assured that there are moments of raw passion aplenty. This is a book that will leave you feeling thoroughly wrung out by the final page, but also happy to be alive.
PositiveThe ScotsmanIn Faber & Faber: The Untold Story, Toby Faber, grandson of the company’s founder, Geoffrey, has managed to piece together the history of this peculiarly British institution in such a way as to lift the lid on some of the more surprising and, occasionally, unedifying goings-on behind the scenes, while at the same time stopping short of doing anything to diminish its mistique ... This book will fascinate anyone with an interest in 20th century literature, but as well as being a treasure trove of anecdotes and insights it is also a surprisingly readable history of a remarkable company...
MixedThe ScotsmanRichards’ new book, Outpost, has clearly been properly proofread (kudos to the team at Canongate) and some of the descriptive writing is wonderfully vivid—cinematic even—but...there’s a niggling sense that the author keeps getting distracted from the main thrust of his story, and the intellectual wandering off and ping-ponging around can get so convoluted that you’re left wondering if there is even a main thrust to return to ... the conclusion that all the outposts in the book are linked by the fact that they \'allow people to engage with the world inside and out in various ways” feels nebulous-verging-on-meaningless.