Posts tagged literary fiction

The Quiddity of Will Self by Sam Mills

This book is unlike any other I’ve read. That, in itself, is a reason I’m glad I read it. In a world in which too many books are reminiscent of other books, this one is truly unique. It may sound a little odd to praise the book’s uniqueness, when it has another writer’s name and face on the cover. And it’s even more odd when you read it, because the prose itself mimics Will Self’s style in places, and there are references to Self’s life, books or characters on almost… Read More

The Twitterati: literary fiction writers to follow on Twitter

A blog post listing all the writers on Twitter would probably take me a lifetime to compile, and cause WordPress to explode in indignation as soon as I hit “Publish”. So I decided to cut it down a bit. The idea of this post is to highlight some big-name literary fiction writers who are on Twitter: people you might not have expected to find tweeting, like Salman Rushdie or Margaret Atwood. I’ve tried to avoid listing Twitter accounts that are run by assistants or PR people or fans – the… Read More

Tabucchi Week: Pereira Maintains

Whadda you mean, “What’s Tabucchi Week?” It’s a week of readings, reviews and blog posts about Italian writer Antonio Tabucchi, organised by Caroline of Beauty is a Sleeping Cat. This is my contribution, a review of Tabucchi’s short and delightful novel Pereira Maintains. The most striking thing about Pereira Maintains is the narrative voice. It’s narrated in the third person, but the two words from the title, “Pereira maintains”, occur regularly throughout the book to qualify what we’ve just been told. For example: In Praca de Alegria there was no sense of being in… Read More

As if by magic…

A sharp-eyed Amazon-watcher just emailed to let me know that my next book, A Virtual Love, has been listed and is available for pre-order. Now don’t worry, this isn’t a sales pitch – I wouldn’t ask you to go and order a book about which there’s no information, not even a cover photo. I just mention it because it’s interesting how the listing of the book online makes it feel more real for me. The thing hasn’t even been edited yet, and it’ll be six months at least before it… Read More

The Murder of Halland by Pia Juul

The book begins with a murder. Soon detectives are on the scene, and the victim’s life is being unravelled piece by piece, revealing a double life and several people with possible motives. But this is not your average detective novel. In this respect it reminds me of Tail of the Blue Bird by Nii Akwei Parkes, reviewed on this site last year. Both books incorporate some aspects of genre fiction, while deliberately departing from others and frustrating the reader’s expectations. It made me think about what makes a book “literary”… Read More

“Too Loud a Solitude” by Bohumil Hrabal

The narrator of Too Loud a Solitude is an idiot. His boss despises him, others laugh at him. He drinks beer all day, and works in a cellar compacting wastepaper. He has been compacting wastepaper in the same cellar with the same hydraulic press for 35 years, and has picked out classics of world literature from the garbage, amassing a library which towers over him as he sleeps, always threatening to crush him. Other times he leaves the books in the compacter, but arranges them carefully so that each bale… Read More

“Written on the Body” by Jeanette Winterson

There is a lot of beauty in this book. Every sentence is like a poem. You can feel the care and attention that went into every choice of word. For the first few pages, I was blown away and thought I had discovered a new favourite writer. But towards the end my enthusiasm faded. I felt like a diner who’s gorged on desserts and longs for some plain old bread and water to settle the stomach. I’ve felt this before, where writing is very ornate. Arundhati Roy comes to mind…. Read More

“The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” by Junot Diaz

I quite liked this book. I think that, perhaps, if I had come upon it by chance in a neglected corner of a bookshop and read it without any preconceptions, I would have really liked it. But I did have preconceptions. A couple of years ago this was a hot book, recommended in all the end-of-year newspaper reviews, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, winner of the American National Book Critics Circle Award. I was expecting something “Astoundingly great” (Time), “Technical breathtaking” (Time Out), “A triumph of style and wit” (San… Read More

“The Enchantress of Florence” by Salman Rushdie

I don’t quite know what to make of this book. There were so many storylines in so many countries at so many different times, all overlapping and sloshing around at the same time, that at times the book became overwhelming. The writing is beautiful, the concept fascinating, but somehow I didn’t find the book as compelling as I expected to. I went to see Salman Rushdie at the Southbank Centre in London last year and he read from the book and talked about it. It sounded fascinating – the main… Read More