Non-Fiction

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Summer Before the Dark by Volker Weidermann (translated by Carol Brown Janeway): ‘Refugees in vacationland’

I was drawn to Volker Weidermann’s Summer Before the Dark partly because of its translator, Carol Brown Janeway, who died last year. It was her work which made me understand that the translator is every bit as important as the author when seeking out books in translation. This may well be her last piece of …

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Bookshops by Jorge Carrión (translated by Peter Bush): An anorak’s delight

I suppose it was inevitable that I’d read and review Bookshops having worked in one for over a decade and spent a great deal of time in many others, both in my own country and abroad. It’s quite some time since I could call myself a bookseller but I still tidy up those table displays, …

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The Lonely City by Olivia Laing: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone

I was attracted to Olivia Laing’s new book partly because of its setting – that old New York lure – partly because I’d enjoyed her exploration of the relationship between writers and drink, The Trip to Echo Spring. In The Lonely City she explores loneliness through the work of four artists – Edward Hopper, David …

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In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri (translated by Anne Goldstein): A passion for language

I was more than a little surprised to be sent a new Jhumpa Lahiri. I’m pretty up and together on my ‘Books to Look Out For’ previews and I’d seen nothing in the fiction schedules. Then I spotted that it had been translated which discombobulated me further. Reading the press release I found that In …

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Parfums by Philippe Claudel (transl. Euan Cameron): An unusual, beautifully written memoir

I’ll read anything by Philippe Claudel. His prose has a lovely, elegant expressiveness to it, trimmed of the flourishes and curlicues that some writers indulge in. All four of his novels are very different, from the dystopian The Investigation to Monsieur Linh and his Child, one of the most heart-wrenching novels I’ve ever read. He’s …

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The Undertaker’s Daughter by Kate Mayfield: Six Feet Under in the American South

Six Feet Under sits alongside The Wire, The West Wing and The Killing as one of the best television series in recent times in my book. In case you haven’t seen it – and if that’s the case I’d advise you to beg borrow or steal at least the first series – it’s set in …

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