Cover image for 1,000 Coils of Fear by Olivia Wenzel

1,000 Coils of Fear by Olivia Wenzel (transl. Priscilla Layne): ‘Where do you belong?’

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Olivia Wenzel’s 1,000 Coils of Fear. Wenzel is a mixed-race German who grew up in the old East, a dramatist, musician and performer who’s turned her hand to fiction. Her debut draws heavily on her own life following an unnamed narrator whose mother was an East German punk …

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Cover image for Now is Not the Time to Panic by Kevin Wilson

Now is Not the Time to Panic by Kevin Wilson: We are all fugitives

A few years ago, I read Kevin Wilson’s Nothing to See Here despite my reluctance at the prospect of children spontaneously combusting. It ended up on my books of the year list. Last year’s short story collection, Tunneling to the Centre of the Earth, also impressed me so I jumped at the chance to read …

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Cover image for To Coook a Bear by Mikael Niemi

Five Swedish Novels I’ve Read

Given how much of my viewing time has been spent there thanks to Walter Presents, you’d think I’d have read more Scandinavian fiction but perhaps it’s because so much of the translated variety is crime related. Below are five striking Swedish novels I’ve read, all with links to my reviews, beginning with an award-winning piece …

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Cover image for Bourneville by Jonathan Coe

Bournville by Jonathan Coe: ‘Everything changes, and everything remains the same’

I’ve not had much success with Jonathan Coe’s recent novels. Despite winning the Costa Novel Award, Middle England hit a low point for me but I liked the sound of Bournville which tells the story of Britain from V. E. Day in 1945 to its seventy-fifth anniversary in 2020 through one extended family who begin …

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Cover image for Flight by Lynn Steger Strong

Flight by Lynn Steger Strong: In the bleak mid-winter

I’m not sure who tweeted their happiness about receiving a proof of Lynn Steger Strong’s Flight having enjoyed her fiction before but I’m grateful to them. That lovely, understated cover also added to its allure. Set in snowy New York state, Strong’s novel follows three siblings and their families facing their first Christmas without their …

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Cover image for They're Going to Love You by Meg Howrey

They’re Going to Love You by Meg Howrey: ‘A question of morals’

I’d not come across Meg Howrey before a blurb promising an ‘80s New York setting together with a resounding recommendation from Ann Patchett caught my eye. They’re Going to Love You, Howrey’s fourth novel, explores themes of love, betrayal and dedication against a background of the dance world as Carlisle is faced with visiting her …

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Idol Burning by Rin Usami

Idol, Burning by Rin Usami (transl Asa Yoneda): ‘My life without him was only an afterlife’  

I’ve long felt uneasy about the relationship between celebrities and the public, not least the way the media refers to them by their first name as if we know them intimately. It’s particularly painful when the celebrity in question was a child star. Rin Usami’s Idol, Burning examines that relationship through a young girl who …

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Cover image for Limberlost by Robbie Arnott

Limberlost by Robbie Arnott: ‘The things you don’t know’

I was delighted when Robbie Arnott’s new novel popped up in my Twitter feed. I’d been a huge fan of his debut, Flames, at first reluctant given it’s magic realism thread but won over by his beautiful writing, then again by The Rain Heron. A coming-of-age story set in 1940s Tasmania with the Second World …

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Cover image for Devils and Saints by Jean-Baptiste Andreaa

Books to Look Out For in December 2022

As ever, there’s little to tempt me in December’s publishing schedules although there are a couple of potential out-of-the-way gems beginning with Jean Bapiste Andrea’s Devils and Saints. A pianist, schooled at a religious institution in the Pyrenees, wows travellers at airports and stations with his virtuoso piano performances, turning down many offers of work …

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