Fiction Reviews

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The President’s Hat by Antoine Laurain (transl. Jane Aitkin and Emily Boyce): C’est tres bien

I have to admit I was a little sceptical about The President’s Hat. I thought it might be a tad whimsical for me but it turns out to be an absolute delight from start to finish. It begins with an accountant, a little out of sorts with his job, treating himself to a solitary meal …

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Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter: A good old fashioned bit of escapism

Despite the rain outside and the woolly cardigan I’m desperate to abandon but can’t seem to shrug off, it’s almost June and the holiday reading season is upon us. I’ve spent the last few days alternating between She Left me the Gun, Emma Brockes’s superb but harrowing account of finding out about her mother’s South …

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Alice by Judith Hermann (transl. Margot Bettauer Dembo): Small but perfectly formed

I hope that all went well for the many booksellers working their socks off yesterday selling Dan Brown’s new novel but I can’t help feeling sad that so much depends upon a handful of authors to keep the book trade afloat. So many excellent books sink without trace or leave little impression. I haven’t read …

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The second novel conundrum

I’ve been circling warily around Andrew Miller’s Costa Prize winning Pure for some time now. Miller’s first novel, Ingenious Pain, is one of my favourite books. Set in the 18th century, its main protagonist, James Dyer, is conceived on an icy night as a result of an adulterous coupling with a stranger. James cannot feel …

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