Book World: In ‘Not a Novel,’ Jenny Erpenbeck continues to evolve

“Not a Novel,” the latest from Jenny Erpenbeck, bears the subtitle “A Memoir in Pieces,” and yet it does not include much memoir, strictly speaking. Though this author’s 2017 novel, “Go, Went, Gone,” was greeted with acclaim, for the new selection of essays her American editors preferred a shorter selection than appeared in the original […]

Book World: Sue Miller’s ‘Monogamy’ interrogates what it means to be faithful over the course of a long marriage

These chapters are interspersed with Annie’s perspective as she seeks her view of her marriage through the scrim of her sense of betrayal. She becomes an observer of the children’s grief but distances herself from it and them. During the scattering of her husband’s ashes, Miller notes: “Watching the other three, she moved a little […]

Book World: The palace of Susanna Clarke’s imagination

In 2004, Susanna Clarke’s debut, “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell,” burst from a cloud of pixie dust. An 800-page work of historical fantasy about two magicians in 19th-century England, the novel was quickly dubbed “Harry Potter for adults” and could have vanished in the dark woods of Hogwarts knockoffs. But Clarke’s literary ancestor is not […]

‘I literally weep’: anguish as New Zealand’s National Library culls 600,000 books

Some treasures have already been saved. While trawling the cull lists, writer Chris Bourke found a first-edition copy of Jack Keruouc’s On the Road, which sells for upwards of NZ$1,000. That copy has now been rescued by a North Island library, while the entire Holocaust collection has been claimed by New Zealand’s Holocaust centre, after […]

Like Christmas: New Zealand’s post-Covid books boom

Although stock delays of between four and six weeks have meant the shelves of many bookshops are emptier than usual – especially of the current international blockbuster reads – the upside has been a huge growth of interest in New Zealand literature – easily obtainable for local booksellers, and currently “flying off the shelves”, according […]

Wellcome book prize goes to Andrew Solomon’s Far From the Tree

“There sometimes seems to be an opposition between the social progress that allows us to accept the range of human difference and the medical progress that allows us to cure and eliminate many such differences,” said Solomon. “My book is about the extraordinary stories of love and compassion that unfold around this duality. For such […]

Eat, Pray, Love author nominated for £30,000 Wellcome book prize

The judges, said the Wellcome prize’s organisers, were looking for books that “reward curiosity, inspire debate, move us, and through writing of the highest quality challenge the ways in which we imagine ourselves and the world around us”. Ken Arnold, the Wellcome Collection’s head of public programmes, said this year’s shortlist “affirms the abundant variety […]

Henrietta Lacks’s legacy lives on as Rebecca Skloot wins medical book prize

Chair of the prize judges, Clive Anderson, said The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which took a decade to write, was “a worthy winner of a prize designed to honour fine writing on a medical theme”, telling the stories of changing medical attitudes and ethics, and the economics of healthcare, as well as the human […]

Hari Kunzru’s new novel of paranoia, politics and puppetmasters

It’s a pity that the novel’s state-of-the-world ambition sometimes makes it more unwieldy than it deserves to be. Red Pill encapsulates a lot: right-wing scenarios, privacy rights, the plight of refugees, the effects of Soviet totalitarianism, the excesses of German Romanticism. At its core, though, it is a lithe and even suspenseful work that aims […]

Book review: A French novel of bleak interior and exterior landscapes

The nature of various forms of artistry, and the way these create identity, is an underlying theme. Among the guests at the boarding house, for example, is a young woman recovering from extensive plastic surgery, with her face covered in bandages. Then again, the narrator takes pride in her cooking, which is sometimes described in […]