Love in the Time of Sexting

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

What is so modern about modern romance? Have we really entered a Brave New Weird World of infinite dating options, instant romance and sexting? A world where the mystery of love and the chemistry of romance can be calculated and commodified by algorithms? You might think that when it comes to love not much has […]

Dawit Isaak

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Last month, on 2 June, PEN marked the five thousand days that the Swedish-Eritrean writer and journalist Dawit Isaak (LR, April 2009) has been held without charge or trial. On 18 September 2001, after the Eritrean authorities closed all eight of the country’s private newspapers, Isaak and at least nine other independent journalists were rounded […]

Profound Experiences of Art

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

In recent years, László Krasznahorkai has edged into the stable of great living writers. Several of the Hungarian’s novels – slabs of text that one of his translators said resembled ‘a slow lava flow of narrative, a vast black river of type’ – have been published in English, and each has been hailed with words […]

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Code Read

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

What was the first great novel of the information age? It’s not a trick question exactly, but the answer depends on what you think ‘information’ is – and when its age began. There’s no reason to think the information age uniquely our own; no reason to assume – like those 20th-century avant-gardes who imagined themselves […]

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Roots Manoeuvres

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

To tell a story about origins, especially if these are messy, concealed or both, is to be tempted to reach for some sort of root. The metaphor, grown thin from overuse, ought to be handled with care, the slant approach favoured. In Age of Iron, J M Coetzee’s fable of life under apartheid, a classics […]

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Motown Funk

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

The story of the rise and fall of Detroit is catnip to reporters and photographers. Once a mighty industrial hub, Michigan’s largest city was the home of the American motorcar, the birthplace of the Motown sound and, at its peak in the 1950s, a thriving metropolis of nearly two million people. But with the subsequent […]

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Gone Girls

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

The Disappeared, a new work of fiction from the philosopher Roger Scruton, tells what is fast becoming an everyday tale of the sexual abuse and exploitation of children in our society. Published in the wake of the shocking revelations of the Jay Report, it could not be more timely. The report detailed the systematic grooming, […]

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Range-Rovia to Ngotoland

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Deborah Moggach’s new novel comes with a letter to the reader explaining the different inspirations for the plot. One is the way in which Hoodia gordonii, a plant used as an appetite suppressant by Kalahari Bushmen, came to be registered by a pharmaceutical corporation and marketed as a diet remedy; another is the flourishing of […]

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Passage to India

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Invisible Threads, a tense account of a grieving woman uncovering the truth about her late husband, is Lucy Beresford’s second novel. This is well-trodden ground and Beresford bravely acknowledges the clichés with a witty and painfully self-aware heroine.

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To the Lighthouse

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Sarah Moss’s new novel is yet another work of lyrical realism. For a framing device, an italicised and whimsical prologue set in the future. For a story, newlyweds Tom and Ally, separated for six months in the 1880s when hubby goes to Japan. Chapters alternate. Worlds are juxtaposed. Narration is in the present tense – […]

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Bricking It

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Ludovica grows up in fear of what might come out of the sky. She feels, whenever braving the great unroofed, ‘fragile and vulnerable, like a turtle whose shell had been torn off’. What ill fortune, then, that she lives in the sky. With her sister and brother-in-law she inhabits the ‘huge apartment on the top […]

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The Time-Traveller’s Life

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Back in the dark days of the late 1980s when the original series of Doctor Who was dying a slow death on television, there was little so profoundly and irremediably unfashionable as to declare oneself a fan of that overlooked and underfunded show. To do so was to invite immediate social exile and to be […]

A Plea for Polyglots

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

‘Unless they want to study the sewerage system in 19th-century Manchester, historians need languages.’ That is the advice offered to aspiring historians by the distinguished early modernist Geoffrey Parker, an insight obvious enough to border on the banal. Yet the serious study of history in the UK is threatened by the collapse in foreign-language learning […]

Ananta Bijoy Das

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

The brutal murder of another journalist and blogger in Bangladesh has been met with worldwide condemnation and renewed calls for the country’s secular government to protect free speech. On 12 May, 33-year-old Ananta Bijoy Das was hacked to death by religious extremists in the northeastern city of Sylhet. He is the third blogger to be […]

Dr Finlay’s Casebook

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Ros Barber’s first novel, The Marlowe Papers, was a miraculous oddity – a 400-page blank-verse sequence that built artfully into an elaborate conspiracy narrative. Purporting to reveal the long-suppressed truth about the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays (the faked death of Christopher Marlowe; a life spent in secret but prolific exile; the sly assumption of another […]

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Seeking Selenus

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

In the first book of the Darkening Path trilogy, Simon and Flora angrily wished their siblings away to the Broken King of the title. Now, following the commands of lustrous, mysterious messengers, they have crossed into his domain, determined to free their sister and brother. But the Silver Kingdom is a threatening, half-lit environment, full […]

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Sten’s Guns

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

‘The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer.’ That line, from D H Lawrence’s Studies in Classic American Literature (1923), is the epigraph of The Harder They Come, a novel that opens with headlong force: Sten and Carolee Stensen, retirees from California, are on a cruise through Costa Rica when local men […]

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