books September 19, 2020

Ordinary Matter

A scandalous discrepancy links the 20 short stories contained within Ordinary Matter . They are fictions inspired by scientific achievements belonging to women over the course of the 20th century. Yet these same women are embedded in an undertaking...

books September 19, 2020

Having and Being Had

Eula Biss thinks she and her husband, John, are just like everyone else in the neighbourhood, but he disagrees: “No … we’re nothing like them, I’m nothing like them.” Biss identifies as middle class, John as white trash, and throughout Having and...

books September 19, 2020

The Lying Life of Adults

The Lying Life of Adults , Elena Ferrante’s latest novel, begins with an unmooring. The teenage Giovanna starts to perform poorly in school and, one night, overhears her father, Andrea, compare her to his estranged sister, Vittoria. “Adolescence has...

books September 19, 2020

Writing Through Fences

A Facebook message seven years ago prompted poet and activist Janet Galbraith to found a writing group that brought hope and connection to refugees. “It was formed out of the relationships between human beings, reaching through prison fences and beyond borders.”

books September 12, 2020

The Mission House

Nobody reads “The Frog Prince” for tips on turning frogs into princes, just as nobody reads “Rumpelstiltskin” for clues on how to spin gold out of straw. These bedtime stories for children are about something else entirely: greed, the need to keep...

books September 12, 2020

Body Count

Its title may sound like the latest splatter thriller, but journalist Paddy Manning’s new book is no fiction; the explicit subtitle clears any ambiguity. This is a book about “how climate change is killing us”. The chapter headings are eerily...

books September 12, 2020

Dreams They Forgot

Two girls are on a prestigious exchange trip to Indonesia. Giselle is the shining star of the duo; she sailed through the interviews and was shortlisted immediately. For Sandra, it was more touch and go; she got her spot by parroting a political...

books September 5, 2020

The Tolstoy Estate

Steven Conte won the inaugural Prime Minister’s Literary Award for his first novel, The Zookeeper’s War , so it’s not hard to imagine that this new book, The Tolstoy Estate , has been much awaited in the 12 years since. The proof copy came with an...

books September 5, 2020

Sorrow and Bliss

Sorrow and Bliss is a book you’ll want to devour in a sitting. Meg Mason has written an adult coming-of-age novel told with force, breathlessness and a confessional style that makes you feel as if you’re sharing intimacies with a close friend. It...

books September 5, 2020

Just Money

If you’re already anxious about the post-pandemic economy, you may not want to read Just Money , Royce Kurmelovs’ genuinely terrifying picture of contemporary indebtedness. But you probably should, nonetheless. Even before Covid-19 maxed out their...

books August 29, 2020


With Summer , the conclusion to the seasonal quartet of novels that began with Autumn in 2017, the Scottish author Ali Smith has completed her extraordinary goal of writing four novels in four years. Smith wrote each of the novels in the four months...