‘The Glass Woman’ by Caroline Lea (Book Review).

Not only is Caroline Lea’s The Glass Woman the best book I have read this year; it also marks the first occasion in a really long time that a novel’s ending has left me crying hysterically into my pillowcase about the brutal, cruel unfairness of this world, and the devastating shortness of happy endings. In this novel…

‘The Day the Sun Died’ by Yan Lianke (Book Review).

As ponderous as a Russian novel and twice as exhausting, Yan Lianke’s The Day the Sun Died is an old-fashioned, feel-bad political satire of the folkloric Animal Farm persuasion. A night of mass somnambulism, or ‘dreamwalking’, as it is called in Chinese, serves as a metaphor for the casual horror perpetrated by the Jinping regime, and the lethal consequences…

‘Night Waking’ by Sarah Moss (Book Review)

Sarah Moss’ Night Waking is a mournful tale of motherhood and family life that is likely to put you off having children forever. While its brutal honesty on the downsides of child bearing is a welcome change from the usual moonshine and roses version of the thing, pacing issues and a lack of narrative spark make…

‘L’allée du Roi’ by Françoise Chandernagor (Book Review)

When looking back on the lives and impact of Louis XIV’s many mistresses, it is difficult to ignore the fact that Madame de Maintenon rarely makes the top of the list. In spite of her considerable political power, her sincere interest in the relief of the poor and her belief in the importance of educating…

‘The House with the Stained Glass Window’ by Żanna Słoniowska (tr. Antonia Lloyd Jones): Book review.

History, pain and identity pile up like strata across four generations of Russian-speaking, ethnic Polish women in Żanna Słoniowska’s stunning novel of Soviet Ukraine, The House with the Stained Glass Window. The young, unnamed female narrator of The House with the Stained Glass Window (Polish title : Dom z witrażem) lives with her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother in the Ukrainian city…

‘History of Wolves’ by Emily Fridlund (review)

I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. Critics have seen much in Emily Fridlund’s History of Wolves. It was shortlisted for the 2017 Man Booker Prize, an incredible achievement for a first novel. It has been described as ‘a beautiful literary work’ (BBC Radio 4) and ‘one of the most intelligent and poetic novels…

‘The Sadeian Woman and the Ideology of Pornography’ by Angela Carter (review)

The Marquis de Sade, canon of cruelty and archdeacon of disgust, could hardly be described as a poster boy for the empowerment of women. Nonetheless, it is this outlandish idea that is put forward by Angela Carter in her brutally uncompromising and upsettingly lucid treatise The Sadeian Woman and the Ideology of Pornography (1979).

‘The Penelopiad’ by Margaret Atwood (review).

In a much-forgotten episode at the end of Homer’s Odyssey, twelve maids are mercilessly hanged for doing what women must in order to survive. Penelope, unraveller of shrouds and refuser of suitors, who patiently waits twenty years for her husband Odysseus to finish fighting and shagging his way around the Aegean, tells their story, and hers, in this radical feminist reinterpretation of The Odyssey.

‘Lincoln in the Bardo’ by George Saunders (review).

This is a difficult novel, full of pain and agony. If you have lost a loved one, you probably shouldn’t read it, and yet probably should. In President Lincoln, you will see yourself, and Willie will become for you the spitting image of the loved one you lost.