Reviewer: AF

By this author


Books September 12, 2015

Where My Heart Used to Beat

The number of contemporary English writers who seem at home in France can be counted on your fingers: Julian Barnes, John Berger, Adam Thorpe, perhaps William Boyd. None of them have parlayed that cultural intimacy into popular success as Sebastian …

Books September 05, 2015

Purity

“Once upon a time, it had sufficed to write The Sound and the Fury or The Sun Also Rises,” Jonathan Franzen writes in Purity (576 pages). “But now bigness was essential. Thickness, length.” Even minds undamaged by …

Books August 29, 2015

Beauty Is a Wound

So sorrowful, so savage, so freaking weird is Beauty Is a Wound that I found myself backtracking paragraphs, just to ensure I’d correctly understood their lunatic import. Eventually I accepted the fact that here was a work of the kind that …

Books July 18, 2015

Last Day in the Dynamite Factory

In a brief essay on Franz Kafka published in 1951, the Argentinian author Jorge Luis Borges mounted a characteristically perverse argument. He wrote that “each new writer creates his precursors”. But what sounds insane at first reading is eminently …

Books July 04, 2015

Archipelago of Souls

When Evelyn Waugh’s unit steamed into Crete’s Souda Bay in May of 1941, they found a rough approximation of hell. The English writer saw a harbour choked with the masts and funnels of sunken vessels, some of them still smoking. The quay, all but …

Books June 13, 2015

Forever Young

Forever Young is a suitably ironic title for a book about growing inexorably away from our earlier selves. Its cover image of an old tree, gnarled and blasted sideways by prevailing winds, suggests as much: actually we are forever ageing, leaning …

Books May 30, 2015

Girl at War

In the second part of Cervantes’ Don Quixote, a character famously observes that there is no book so bad that some good may not be found in it. That notion is tested by Girl at War. Sara Nović’s debut arrives flanked by the kind …

Books May 02, 2015

All Involved

On the night of March 3, 1991, George Holliday, woken by police sirens, looked down from his Lake View Terrace, Los Angeles, apartment to see a group of LAPD officers attempting to subdue the driver of a car following a high-speed chase. Holliday grabbed …

Books April 25, 2015

Quicksand

It is hard not to love a novel that depicts its teenaged anti-hero perched atop a toilet block roof in the small hours of a “stormwater blue” Sydney night, holding a Chiko Roll up to the moon’s glow as though it once belonged to a court jester …