Contemporary fiction

Cover image for Fracture by Andrés Neuman

Fracture by Andrés Neuman (transl. Nick Caistor and Lorenza Garcia: ’The art of mending cracks without secrecy’

Part of my attraction to Fracture was its jacket which seemed to fit the title so beautifully. Andrés Neuman’s novel is largely set in Japan and, thanks to BBC4’s excellent series of documentaries about Japanese culture, I knew about the practice of kintsugi: repairing broken porcelain emphasising the cracks rather than disguising them as we …

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The Portrait by Ilaria Bernardini: Every picture tells a story

This is the second novel I’ve read recently in which two women become close to each other, one knowing very much more about the other. In Tayari Jones’ Silver Sparrow, a half-sister is entirely ignorant of her new friend’s relationship to her. Ilaria Bernardini’s The Portrait sees a celebrated writer whose lover of several decades …

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To the Volcano by Elleke Boehmer: Stories of longing and loneliness

I’d not heard of Elleke Boehmer before To the Volcano turned up, despite the five novels she has under her belt. She’s also the author of an acclaimed biography of Nelson Mandela not to mention editor of the bestselling 2004 edition of Baden-Powell’s Scouting for Boys. I knew about the latter from Waterstone’s Books Quarterly …

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The Easy Way Out by Steven Amsterdam: There isn’t one

This novel is unlikely to appeal to everyone although we should all read it. It’s about assisted suicide, one of the great moral dilemmas of the twenty-first century Western world where medicine has advanced in leaps and bounds but not the ethical framework for dealing with its unintended consequences. Steven Amsterdam’s sharp, funny novel explores …

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