David Collard

Keeping Calm & Carrying On

Darkness Falls from the Air

By

Weidenfeld & Nicolson 204pp £8.99 order from our bookshop

From 7 September 1940, London was bombed by the Luftwaffe for fifty-seven consecutive nights. More than forty thousand civilians were killed and a million homes damaged or destroyed. Other British cities – especially those with ports – were also subject to air raids, but London bore the brunt of the German onslaught. The best Blitz fiction is arguably Graham Greene’s The Ministry of Fear, published in 1943, but Nigel Balchin (1908–70) got there first a year earlier with an outstanding novel, now reissued by Weidenfeld & Nicolson. In his first-rate biography of Balchin, His Own Executioner, Derek Collett gently reminds us that the name was pronounced ‘Bol-chin’ – evidence that this once hugely popular writer, one of the best novelists of his generation, is in danger of being forgotten. 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Although he travels through time and space to find the best produce, his choices, delightfully, are not obvious.'… ,
    • RT : I regularly make purchases based on - it’s excellent.,
    • RT : I wrote about Yoko Ogawa's dreamlike, allegorical novel The Memory Police, newly published in English in a translat… ,
    • 'At this frankly apocalyptic moment for indigenous rights in Brazil, John Hemming’s "People of the Rainforest" is a… ,
    • 'I was dumbfounded by the view of the Berlin Wall from the eastern side. It seemed inconceivable that in under thre… ,
    • RT : Danger for ‘local’ staff, access in exchange for silence (and logos) - all sounds familiar in this fascinating look… ,
    • 'He has long been eclipsed by Vermeer, though his interiors are arguably more ambitious.' David Gelber on the Dutc… ,