Jack is a love story; it contains miracles. It is also the most theological of Robinson’s novels, bound by religious paradox and poetic impossibility. Robinson is interested in love, not as desire...

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Brexit, Covid-19, climate change and the refugee crisis shift in and out of focus, but it’s in the ordinary scenes of everyday frustration that the novels seem most ‘of our time’. But...

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Amis takes an unpretentious, anxious interest in holding the reader’s attention, and from time to time he can still get out from behind the rhetorical afflatus and come at you with sheer voice. His...

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Ah, how miserable! Three New Oresteias

Emily Wilson, 8 October 2020

Misogynist tropes often involve present­ing women as interesting in precisely the ways that Aeschylus’ female characters are interesting: charming, articulate, danger­ous, deceitful, too...

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Reading the novel is a bit like watching the type of movie – The Revenant or 1917 – where a man is chased by a bear only to fall off a cliff into the rapids, or a plane is shot out of the sky...

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I Am Brian Moore

Colin Burrow, 24 September 2020

Literary fiction is and ought always to be partly spell-making, and the kind of rapt reading Brian Moore offers – not speed-reading, but reading where the sing and whistle of the plot keeps you reading...

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Jansson had many euphemisms for lesbianism: ‘rive gauche’, as if all Parisian women were at it; ‘borderliner’; a ‘new line’, ‘tendency’, ‘attitude’....

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In The Discomfort of Evening there’s no whisper of normality to be heard. The status quo is dysfunctional even before its theoretical disruption by grief and then bovine epidemic, which makes it...

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On Hope Mirrlees

Clair Wills, 10 September 2020

The​ Turkish language has a tense for gossip. Officially known as the reported past, it’s also the ‘hearsay’ tense, in which it’s possible to say things without its...

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Childhood, for King, is a permanent condition, its obsessions inalienable, incurable. Even his adult characters embody a child’s awe and fear: they’re motherless wanderers, bewildered in the...

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How to Read Aloud

Irina Dumitrescu, 10 September 2020

It is easy to overlook how loud pre­-modern education was. Most of our evidence for more than a thousand years of teaching consists of books, and, to the modern way of thinking, books are objects used...

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The realm of writing, for Nathalie Sarraute, remained the neutral, the anonym­ous, the impersonal, expressed as the pre­-conscious and pre-­personal undercurrents of the mind, which she named...

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Early Kermode

Stefan Collini, 13 August 2020

So when had all that started to happen, when did the smart London weeklies and monthlies begin to commission reviews from the little-known young lecturer who, recruited by D.J. Gordon, had moved to the...

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My first reading of The Vanishing Half was greedy, fast, for plot, with the sun on my back and murder in the news. On my second, I noticed different things. Brit Bennett’s sentences don’t...

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The Smell of Blood: Sarah Moss

Blake Morrison, 13 August 2020

The frustration of the dozen voices composing the narrative of Summerwater is easy to under­stand: male, female, young, old, Scottish, English, they’re fed up with the weather, because it’s...

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The Shrine

Alan Bennett, 30 July 2020

I said, ‘You’ve got some of the mud on your trousers.’ I said, ‘I’m still going to kneel, only I won’t wear the jacket.’ He said, ‘That’s the stuff,’...

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Listening to people’s stories and believing them is a benevolent impulse, Nikita Lalwani argues. But her novels are full of moments when the stories people tell about themselves and the world prove...

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Why is luck good or bad, an incentive to gambling, while chance seems weirdly neutral? And what was it like in the old days when Fortune played a larger role in ordinary consciousness, taking up quite...

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