Is He Authentic

Posted on by David Gelber

Michael Frayn’s new novel, his first for 16 years, asks some almost unaskable questions. Anyone who reads Donne’s Songs and Sonnets will recognise the authentic smell of warm, used linen; but who has stopped to consider what it would really have been like to spend a night with the poet? Poetry – and even fiction […]

Six Of The Best

Posted on by David Gelber

Martin Amis’s new novel is clearly the result of the same forces which he says prompted him to write Einstein’s Monsters: Parenthood and a belated reading of Jonathon Schell’s Fate of the Earth. In his essay ‘Thinkability’ he wrote that ‘the theme of nuclear weapons resists frontal assault. For myself I feel it is a […]

Director’s Dreams

Posted on by David Gelber

As part of our enquiry into the connection between literature and film we asked a few prominent and promising directors which book they would most like to make into a movie, given a totally free choice. We received the following replies: * BILLY WILDER It would have to be Josefine Mutzenbacher, an early twentieth century […]

Lord Gnaim Writes: Not A Manifesto

Posted on by David Gelber

For the first time in its brief but distinguished history the Literary Review has a male editor. Many will see this as a retrograde step, and for my own part I will have no objection if correspondents wish to continue addressing the editorial chair as ‘Dear Madam’ – whether in deference to the shades of […]

Pierce Me, Probe Me

Posted on by Tom Fleming

If you are male, and attracted to the quiet and reticent representatives of the opposite sex, it is difficult to read Christina Rossetti – as it is Emily Dickinson, the poet with whom she is most often compared– without falling in love with her. F L Lucas, writing about her in 1940, claimed that ‘this […]

Marina Warner, whose novel ‘The Lost Father’ has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize, talks to Naim Attallah

Posted on by David Gelber

I think I was influenced by my father through wishing to react against his prescription of what my life should be like. He was a very regular upper middle class man, he had been to Eton and to Oxford and was a Colonel in the army. During the war he met my mother, who came […]

Do We Really Need to Know?

Posted on by David Gelber

Of all the many and wretched women processed through these pages, the luckiest is surely Mildred Martin, who supervised Roth in ‘independent reading’ at Bucknell University. She admired him and has obligingly supplied diary entries as testimony to the boy’s genius in discussing Yeats. She also remained resistant to Roth’s hubris, self-preoccupation and, presumably, his […]

Let Him Eat Cake

Posted on by David Gelber

In the mid-1970s a mighty crisis shook the Conservative Party and all the people with property which it represents. The problem was not just that a Labour Government won two elections in 1974. The victories were narrow, and the Labour politicians were as soft as ever. The cause of the crisis was the strength and […]

Essential Facts Missing

Posted on by David Gelber

How anyone can produce such a short and dull book about such a tall and fascinating man is something to ponder when insomnia threatens. Would that the book itself were soporific enough to lure Lethe’s powerful arms, but unfortunately here and there the direct quotes from Spike (pictured on the cover in genial mood with […]

Nation at War

Posted on by David Gelber

In America, at least as yet, there is nothing to match the bitter controversy that has developed in Britain between town and country. New York or San Francisco are impossibly remote from the vast tracts of Midwestern corn belt or Texan ranch country. The countryside – in so far as one can use the word […]

Treasures from the Well

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

With the closure in September of the Edward Bawden exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery, which was seen by over 39,000 visitors, I was delighted to be able to once again leaf through some of the treasured books that I had lent, including East Coasting, a wittily illustrated booklet with text by Dell Leigh, published by […]

Journalists in Saudi Arabia

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

While the world comes to terms with the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, fears increase for the safety of other writers and journalists imprisoned in Saudi Arabia. The country’s appalling human rights record and suppression of free speech are well documented. Human rights defenders and writers are routinely arrested. 

Trouble in Chilitenango

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

For a novel dealing with quite timely issues – drug smuggling, coups d’état and illegal immigration – Lost Children is surprisingly nostalgic. Christopher Hart draws us into the tradition-steeped patterns of life in rural, poverty-stricken Chilitenango (on the El Salvador–Honduras border, though Hart doesn’t much care for lines on a map), where, were it not […]

The Watcher

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Norah Lange’s People in the Room, first published in 1950, has been read as a Künstlerroman, as a critique of women’s stultifying domestic experiences, and as a female writer’s response to life as an object of the male gaze. It is all these things, as well as a powerful evocation of an overactive teenage imagination.

Meet the Doyles

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Future Popes of Ireland begins with gentle blasphemy: ‘It was September 1979 when Pope John Paul II brought sex to Ireland.’ Granny Doyle, aflame with the conviction that she will be grandmother to the first Irish pope, catches a drop of holy water in Phoenix Park and insists that her daughter-in-law sprinkle it on the […]

Plain Speaking

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

This book is a nonesuch, a hybrid, the literary equivalent of ‘neither fish nor flesh nor good red herring’, and it’s all the better for that. We can engage with Martín Cullen’s The Estancia as a straightforward childhood memoir or as the kind of fiction which harnesses a traditional genre to produce a dreamlike elaboration […]

Bertie’s Back

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

The Drones Club is temporarily closed for summer, so Bertie Wooster is forced to find other sociable dwellings. The new chairman of his bank is the mean killjoy Sir Gilbert Skinner, replacing his dear friend Buffty (a man ‘four parts chalk-stripe, three parts whiskers, and two parts gin’). Elsewhere, his lofty Aunt Dahlia, a woman […]

Moving Heaven & Earth

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

A N Wilson’s new novel describes an earthquake that hits a city in a former British colony in the Pacific. He is at pains to say in a note at the beginning of the book that his fictional country, the Island, is not based on New Zealand, and that the earthquake that destroys his fictional city […]

Plum Street Progress

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Barbara Kingsolver has never ducked the big questions in her fiction. ‘I don’t understand how any good art could fail to be political,’ she told an interviewer in 2010 after her sixth novel, The Lacuna, scooped the Orange Prize. In 2000 she established the Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, awarded to an unpublished novel […]

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