‘Sometimes I think things … Then I don’t know whether you’re really allowed to think things like that,’ comments Michel Lohman, one of two teenage boys at the centre of Herman Koch’s The Dinner. He’s confiding in his father, Paul, the narrator of a novel that takes a special delight in thinking the unthinkable. The boys, two cousins, have committed an unprovoked act of violence, made notorious from its media exposure, and their parents – Paul, his brother Serge, and their wives – are meeting in a slick restaurant in Amsterdam. But as Paul attempts to comprehend and respond to the crime, as yet unpunished, the novel raises the troubling notion that some victims are more innocent than others. Or as Koch puts it, ‘that which falls is weak, that which lies on the ground is prey’.
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In 2017 Jan Morris, who died last week, wrote a paean to George Borrow's 'Wild Wales' – 'the most celebrated book written in English about Wales'.
'She drank a lot of wine and some of the great bottles she savoured are listed here. But her biggest appetite was for love, no doubt fuelled ... by the lack of it in her early childhood.'
Cressida Connolly reviews a new biography of Sybille Bedford.
I have just spent a wonderful few minutes re-reading the best book review of the year in my opinion. It's by Piers Brendon in September's issue of @Lit_Review. Beautifully captioned as 'Jack the Lad', Brendon takes Fredrik Logevall's JFK: Vol.I apart! It's a laugh a minute. Ouch!