Enthusiasts Take Part In The Annual Reenactment Of The Battle Of Hastings

The 10 “best” historical novels, sort of…

19 June 2013 11:35

The BBC adaptation of Philippa Gregory’s The White Queen, which began last Sunday, has led numerous books editors to pick their 10 best historical novels. I played this silly dinner… Continue reading

Tom Sharpe, who died yesterday, at work on a novel (probably Ancestral Vices) in 1979.

Tom Sharpe nearly killed me

7 June 2013 12:13

I was on a train when it happened. I was bent double with my head between my knees, gasping for air and unable to speak. The Surrey matriarch sitting opposite… Continue reading

AM Homes (far left), posing with the rest of the shortlist for the Women's Prize for Fiction. (BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

AM Homes’ May We Be Forgiven wins the Women’s Fiction Prize

5 June 2013 20:00

AM Homes’ May We Be Forgiven has won the Women’s Fiction Prize, beating a strong field that included Hilary Mantel, Zadie Smith, Barbara Kingsolver and Kate Atkinson. Homes, who is an American writer, is… Continue reading

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A man dressed as Henry VIII progresses up the Thames in search of more plenty. Image: Getty

Death of a tyrant

5 June 2013 11:07

For a king very conscious of his own power, who gloried in his status and commissioned famous artists to depict that status, Henry VIII’s death, in January 1547, was tawdry… Continue reading


Sheila Heti: ‘I did worry putting sex in the book would eclipse everything else’

31 May 2013 9:27

There is a question which writers (and readers) of literary fiction get tired of hearing: which bits really happened? The traditional and respectable answer is that this doesn’t matter. Everything… Continue reading

New Picture (8)

Writers in a state of fear

21 May 2013 11:51

A State of Fear, Joseph Clyde’s new thriller*, stands out for many reasons. Thrillers only work if they are thrilling, and Clyde’s description of the search for the terrorist who… Continue reading


Dangerous romance – Clever Girl by Tessa Hadley

21 May 2013 9:10

‘The bus company’s yellow tin sign on its concrete post seemed for a long while a forlorn flag announcing nothing,’ notes Stella, the narrator of Tessa Hadley’s new novel Clever… Continue reading

Malaysian author Tan Twan Eng poses after winning the Man Asian Literary Prize for his novel 'The Garden of Evening Mists'. (PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Tan Twan Eng interview: ‘I have no alternative but to write in English’

20 May 2013 11:10

Tan Twan Eng’s first novel was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize, his second was shortlisted and then won the Man Asian Literary Prize. To say that his work over… Continue reading

A giant fresco of Charlie Chaplin. (FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

Seriously eccentric – Chaplin & Company by Mave Fellowes

16 May 2013 14:19

Chaplin & Company is an alarming proposition for anyone with a low threshold for the cute and quirky. Its main character, Odeline Milk, is a mime artist. She is serious… Continue reading

(Grzegorz Michaowski/AFP/Getty Images)

Cult fiction – Amity and Sorrow by Peggy Riley

14 May 2013 13:57

There’s an attraction, certainly, in joining a cult. Not a Sheryl Sandberg working women type cult but a good old fashioned we’re all in it together wearing hemp skirts type… Continue reading

The Humans by Matt Haig will be published on Thursday by Canongate Books.

Alienation effect

7 May 2013 12:54

‘To give you an idea of the way people here consume stories, I have put this book together as a human would’ writes the alien narrator of Matt Haig’s novel… Continue reading

Sunset In China's Countryside

Schroder – one man’s journey into night

30 April 2013 10:54

Erik Schroder is an East German who last saw his mother when he was five years old. In 1975 only his unspeaking father crossed the Wall with him into West… Continue reading

Heavy Snow Fall Hits Southern England

The Gamal by Ciarán Collins – review

23 April 2013 10:15

My editor told me to read this book and write this review. Six hundred words, he said. Just like the psychiatrist Dr. Quinn instructed Charlie, the protagonist of said book,… Continue reading

Joe Dunthorne attending the premier of the film adaptation of his novel 'Submarine'. He was not included on Granta's list of Young British Novelists. (Photo by Fergus McDonald/Getty Images)

The power of Granta’s gift to British writers

19 April 2013 16:39

Philip Hensher was one of Granta’s 20 under forty in 2003, so what does he make of the new list? Writing in this week’s Spectator, he says that there are… Continue reading

Weathering the Wall Street Crash; a party at the Piccadilly Hotel in 1931. (Photo by Sasha/Getty Images)

Heat Lightning by Helen Hull – review

16 April 2013 9:56

‘I had decided that I wished to write a novel about the immediate present – this was the summer of 1930 – and I had been speculating about the way… Continue reading

The Fun Stuff by James Wood is published by Jonathan Cape.

Interview with James Wood

12 April 2013 8:15

James Wood is arguably the most celebrated, possibly the most impugned, and definitely the most envied, literary journalist living. By his mid twenties he was the chief book reviewer for… Continue reading

Soldiers take a cigarette break at base Kalsu on July 17, 2011 in Iskandariya, Babil Province, Iraq. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Fobbit by David Abrams – review

10 April 2013 9:58

Fobbit, by David Abrams, is an attempt at describing a wartime tour from different perspectives, including soldiers and support personnel. Chapter by chapter our viewpoint rotates within this cast of… Continue reading

Post-war Vienna, an uncertain place brilliantly evoked by Elisabeth de Waal in The Exiles Return.  (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The Exiles Return by Elisabeth de Waal – review

9 April 2013 10:00

The Exiles Return has been published as a beautiful Persephone Book, with smart dove-grey covers and a riotously colourful endpaper. Before this glorious incarnation, it existed for many years as… Continue reading

Ian McEwan pictured in 1979. His generation of English writers generally worship at the altar of realism. (Photo by Mike Moore/Evening Standard/Getty Images)

What is the point of fiction if not to expand horizons?

8 April 2013 9:00

While Ian McEwan’s recent piece in the Guardian is not expressly termed a treatise on the value of art, it is hard to see it otherwise. What is the use… Continue reading

The sun sets over the river Liffey in Dublin. (BARRY CRONIN/AFP/Getty Images)

Interview with a writer: Kevin Maher

5 April 2013 10:30

Kevin Maher’s debut novel The Fields is set in the suburban streets of south Dublin in 1984. The story is narrated by Jim Finnegan: an innocent 13-year-old boy who lives… Continue reading

John Banville's The Sea wins the 2005 Booker Prize. (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Interview with a writer: John Banville

29 March 2013 11:00

The salubrious surroundings of the Waldorf Hotel seem like a very apt setting to interview a master of style and sophistication. When I arrive in the lobby, John Banville is… Continue reading

Martin Amis's 'Money' is just the sort of book a godfather should give his godson on reaching his majority. (Frederick M. Brown/Online USA)

21 books for a godson, pt. 1

25 March 2013 11:30

There is much to be said for godfathers. They offer the wisdom of maturity without the complications of direct filial ties. Likewise there is much to be said for 21st… Continue reading

Heavy Snow Fall Hits Southern England

Death Comes For The Poets by Matthew Sweeney and John Hartley Williams – review

19 March 2013 10:00

Death Comes For The Poets is an unliterary book with a highly literary subject. It’s usually done the other way around: exquisite quodrilogies about American car salesmen; towering works about… Continue reading

The late Douglas Adams relaxes at home June 12, 2000 in Santa Barbara, CA. (Photo by Dan Callister/Online USA)

Douglas Adams’s big idea

12 March 2013 14:05

Had he not died 12 years ago, Douglas Adams would have been 61 yesterday. Google produced a doodle in his memory, and the Guardian published an interesting piece which declared… Continue reading

Lars Iyer says that his books attempt to puncture the modern world's sentimental view of the past and sentimental hopes for the future. (Image: Getty)

Interview with a writer: Lars Iyer

6 March 2013 9:40

People call Lars Iyer a ‘cult author,’ which is odd, because almost every paper to have reviewed him from here to Los Angeles has praised him endlessly. The ‘cult’ thing… Continue reading