Articles in Fiction
The editors of Vanity Fair magazine delve into their century of writing to serve up dozens of their best writers writing about other writers.
Ian McEwan’s latest novel has an ingenious premise–but does it deliver on its promise? Rohan Maitzen reviews Nutshell.
Fantasy author Rjurik Davidson returns with the second novel of minotaurs, magic, and political unrest. Justin Hickey reviews The Stars Askew.
The NYRB Classics reprints three seminal novels by the elusive author who wrote under the pen name Henry Green. Jack Hanson reviews.
What has not already been written about Virginia Woolf? A new critical biography offers ideas about how to read both her work and her life.
A new novel about a notorious Viennese clinic aims to do justice to the lives of those the Nazis declared were utterly without value.
This month’s pairing: Carol O’Connell’s beloved star detective returns, and spy-novel master John Le Carre writes raconteur’s memoir about travel and writing.
In our monthly feature, Sam Sacks clambers over the mountain of
reviews of Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach, spotting perspicacity,
purple prose, and possible pickpocketing along the way.
A young woman’s life is turned upside-down when she encounters a strange man with a molten red hand.
The hitman who kills hitmen is contracted by a semi-rogue FBI agent to take on a particularly delicate – and dangerous – side-mission
In Moonstone, Icelandic author Sjón tells a story of 1918 Iceland through the longings and alienation of a sixteen-year-old orphan named Mani. Robert Minto reviews.
When Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri abandons English for Italian, she learns as much about herself as about her new language.
The stories in debut author Alexander Weinstein’s collection portray a near-future world of intrusive personal techology – a world that every day resembles our own a bit more. Dalton Gentry reviews.
The French countryside, the death-camp of Auschwitz, and a mansion in County Cork – a trio of new mystery-thrillers takes readers on exotic ventures in search of justice – or payback.
Distance is complicated: it measures intimacy, but in unpredictable ways. Rebecca Solnit’s evocative new book explores the meaning of distance and closeness.
A crippled young man in a forgotten hospital has armored himself against the rotten hand he’s drawn in life – until he falls in love with a new patient.
The heroine of Mary Robinette Kowal’s enchanting new novel is doing her part for the WWI war effort – by debriefing the spirits of soldiers killed on the battlefield
The life of the main character in Nathan Hill’s stunning debut novel is turned upside-down when the madwoman on the nightly news turns out to be his mother.
The latest entry in the epic “Year’s Best Science Fiction” series by editor Gardner Dozois features everything from Venusian monsters to telepathic food – with stops along the way for planetary warfare, quantum piracy, and the end of the world as we know it.
“The Wonderments” allow the hero of Bill Broun’s spellbinding debut novel Night of the Animals to talk to the animals in Regent’s Park Zoo. Justin Hickey reviews.
2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Mesa Selimovic’s modernist Yugoslavian masterpiece; Pedja Jurisic looks at Death and the Dervish today.
The masterful essays in Gregory Wolfe’s The Operation of Grace range from Mel Gibson to Thomas More, from Annie Dillard to Christopher Hitchens. Martyn Wendell Jones reviews.
Computer wizardry in Minneapolis and sexual abuse in North Yorkshire: the latest gripping books from two veteran mystery authors.
A strong-willed young woman and a visionary young man navigate a 16th-century Germany in chaos in order to find their destiny
Long before Peter the Great and Catherine the Great, Russian thinkers and writers were haltingly, passionately fashioning their own peculiar brand of Enlightment
This year in our annual Summer Reading feature, our writers recommend favorite books that take us on journeys – through time, around the world, or just out of ourselves.
Part II of our Summer Reading feature brings more books about exploration and travel.
Once upon a time, Westerns were a staple of American fiction. Now they’ve all but disappeared. Zach Rabiroff asks why cowboys rode off into the sunset.
Ever since Mary Shelley wrote her weird masterpiece two centuries ago, it’s been impossible to keep a good monster down. In the Shadow of Frankenstein gives readers two dozen pastiches that keep the Creature alive.
Master stylist Donald Ray Pollock returns in a violent, beautifullly-written novel about three brothers on a murderous rampage. Aaron Botwick reviews The Heavenly Table
A mystery debut featuring a “human bloodhound” and a veteran author’s latest featuring a dogged Frenchman split the billing in Irma Heldman’s latest column.
Horror fiction may not at first compare with more respectable genres, but look a bit closer. Horror is one of the oldest emotions known to man, and the artists who’ve evoked it have been some of our most brilliant and most strange …
As the haze and heat of summer kick into full swing, the folk of Open Letters break out their annual Summer Reading recommendations!
The Second World War closes in on the two families bravely struggling to keep Cavendon Hall alive.
In fantasy illustrator Todd Lockwood’s debut novel, a young woman from a family of dragon-breeders faces an ancient evil
Mary Balogh’s Survivors’ Club novels are romances, which means they tell hopeful stories about people whose struggles end happily. Why should that optimism earn them such disdain?
A thoughtful new book about Victorian concepts of space, nation, and mobility reminds us that our own world is vulnerable to unraveling as we move from here to wherever’s next.
Did Thomas Jefferson love his slave, the mother of his children Sally Hemings? A new novel asks the question factually and counterfactually, and Kenyon Gradert sums up the results.
Stoicism and betrayal vie at the heart of two new mystery thrillers from veterans of the genre.
Since its publication in 2000, The Last Samurai has been defined, but not explained, as a “cult classic.” In this regular feature, Garth Risk Hallberg looks with fresh eyes at Helen DeWitt’s brilliant and jolting novel.
The familiar story of the Spartacus rebellion gets a lavish new telling
A terrific ten-year-old noir novel is given a new paperback edition on the occasion of its translation to the Hollywood screen.
A violent, desolate stretch of the English coastline forms the setting for Andrew Michael Hurley’s much-heralded debut novel
A young woman’s diary of her friendship with Anton Chekhov raises the tantalizing possibility of a long-lost work by the master.
Rick Campbell’s new novel features a fight to the death deep under the Arctic ice
In Joe Hill’s new novel, a plague of spontaneous combustion is sweeping the world …
Open Letters Senior Editor Rohan Maitzen discusses her new ebook, Middlemarch for Book Clubs
As a collection of stories about the complexities of marriage, Reader, I Married Him is good, sometimes even excellent. But how is it as a provocation to rethink Jane Eyre?
A startling alien legacy is dug up out of the ground in Sylvain Neuvel’s stellar debut novel Sleeping Giants. Justin Hickey reviews.
The intense problematics of Don DeLillo’s literary preoccupations are on full display in his latest, Zero K. Dan Green explores the legacy of an author’s postmodernism.
Njal’s Saga is a myth based on history, a narrative about the effect of religion on a culture of revenge. Matt Ray takes us to medieval Iceland.
History remembers him as the author of the famous dictum about power corrupting, but Lord Acton led an intense and fascinating life. Luciano Mangiafico tells his story.
Old loyalties lead to explosive new dangers in two new mystery-thrillers set in North Carolina and Northern Ireland.
The nation’s book critics naturally congregated when Don DeLillo’s Point Omega appeared. In an Open Letters Peer Review feature, John Rodwan supplies a scorecard for the players.
In his essay on a new reprint of Edwin O’Connor’s great and indispensable novel of old-style American ward politics, Jack Beatty introduces readers to the serious comedy of The Last Hurrah.
How do we memorialize a literary titan who shaped his own mythology? The story of legendary writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez gained its protean final chapter in the wave of obituaries after his death in 2014.
An intimate new biography gives us a Charlotte Brontë for our times – and raises questions about the entanglement of life and art.
In an entertaining new study of Sartre, Camus, de Beauvoir and company, the existentialist movement becomes a personality-driven piece of public performance.
The 11th novel in Philip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther series and the 2nd novel in John Lawton’s Joe Wilderness series share plenty of thrills and character insights in common.
Julio Cortázar and Gabriel Garcia Marquez brought Latin American fiction to the attention of the world. Now a young crop of writers are trying to move beyond magical realism–a new anthology charts the diverse approaches.
Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is usually overshadowed by her sisters’ masterpieces, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, but this gripping novel, a startling exposé of Victorian patriarchy, deserves a turn in the spotlight.
A 1984 assassination attempt on Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher forms the unlikely backdrop for Jonathan Lee’s US debut novel
A complex and moving novel about a trio of young men who leave their native India in search of work
If everybody’s a critic, as New York Times movie critic A.O. Scott claims in his new book, then where does that leave criticism? Sam Sacks reviews.
There are two kinds of essayists: explainers and explorers. Which populate the new series from Restless Books about the human face? John Cotter investigates.
The book Fight Club – and even more so the movie adaptation – have cult fixtures in American culture. But after twenty years, is there anything left for a sequel to subvert? Justin Hickey reads Fight Club 2.
John Berger’s writing on art often feels more dramatic than analytic, a passionate study of the unspoken transaction between artist and viewer. Robert Minto looks at Portraits.
Is loneliness a failure, or just a sign that one is alive? Olivia Laing’s new book explores the paradox of being alone in one of the world’s most crowded cities.
Can fiction be overtly political without becoming doctrinaire? A new novel about the Seattle W.T.O. protests succeeds by emphasizing the human complexities involved.
Kay Boyle, friend to William Carlos Williams, Katherine Anne Porter, and Samuel Beckett, was famous for her short stories but also wrote a lifetime’s worth of fascinating letters, now sampled in a new anthology.
The richly diverse voices in A Brief History of Seven Killings paved the way for the novel’s success, but does the whole justify up to the hype?
Locations don’t get much different than the Venice of Donna Leon and the Duluth of Brian Freeman, but as two new mysteries show, they have one thing in common: murder!
A new historical novel joins the ranks of those trying to rehabilitate the reputation of poor Lucrezia Borgia
Many kinds of violence haunt a remote California island chain when a nature photographer takes a one-year assignment there
Popular French science-fantasy writer Serge Brussolo gets makes his debut appearance in English with a story of men and women who treasure-hunt in the dreams of other people
The debut short story collection from a Montana fly-fishing guide
Nicholas Searle’s debut novel stars a canny old swindler who may or may not have found has final, perfect mark
In a distant future without humans, genetically engineered members of other Earth species have evolved societies of staggering – and problematic – complexity.
Lilliet Berne, hero of Alexander Chee’s highly-anticipated new novel Queen of the Night, enjoys the glamorous life of a diva — but what’s below the surface is both more sordid and more tragic.
In two new mysteries – one the start of a new series, one the start of a new career – intricate plots take readers from Upstate New York to the Northern Cascades.
A name from a hotshot defense attorney’s past comes back to haunt her when she discovers her ex is a suspect in a triple homicide
An out-of-work musician is hired to ghost-write the memoirs of a legendary blues singer, but the legend hides some grim new realities
Misfits and battered believers fill the pages of Kathy Anderson’s wise and funny debut
The Nazi slaughter of hundreds of thousands of European gypsies forms the grim backdrop to Lindsay Hawdon’s debut novel
In the latest novel from hyper-prolific Brandon Sanderson, the vast mythos of his “Cosmere” is further expanded
An American instructor in Bulgaria falls into a problematic infatuation with a rough-hewn rent-boy in Garth Greenwell’s debut novel
The great Renaissance classic gets a spryly-translated new Norton edition
In the third century, the Roman Empire teetered on the brink of implosion, with one man after another claiming power – and Harry Sidebottom’s “Throne of the Caesars” series transmutes it all into first-rate historical fiction
A bedridden famous painter reflects on his unhappy marriage – and his wife gets the last word
In Morgan Llywelyn’s latest novel, the gods and goddesses of ancient Ireland take center stage
A young man out for a nighttime walk in Tokyo finds a gun. Then he thinks about it all the time. Then he thinks about getting bullets for it. And then he thinks about firing it …
How many copies of Middlemarch does one person need? When the edition is as lovely as this, there’s always room for one more.
The working title of D. H. Lawrence’s Women In Love was Dies Irae – Day of Wrath. But reading it will make you feel not despairing but vibrantly alive.
Ukraine is a haunted, confounding country.Yuri Andrukhovych tries to match his prodigious technique to its complexity.
In the 1930s, a handful of clubbable Christian scribblers got together for tea and conversation and produced both The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings. What on earth went on there?
Complex plotting runs through a darkly humorous new caper from Thomas Perry and the third book in Mick Herron’s series about the disgraced spies at MI5’s Slough House.
A legendary editor assembles the biggest collection of Sherlock Holmes parodies, pastiches, and homages ever collected in one volume
The Tale of Genji has been enthralling readers for a thousand years; a grand new book collects some of the varied critical responses it’s sparked over the centuries
Adam Johnson’s stories cast us adrift in moral, emotional, even existential uncertainties; the only reassurance they offer lies in the excellence of the fiction itself.
Long, long before Superman appeared in Action Comics #1 in 1938, human folklore was rife with super-beings. A new book takes a look at the more-than-human.
It’s a Mystery: “Love doesn’t visit often, even when it comes, it can always change its mind and walk away”
A promising debut joins to veteran onging series in a trio of new crime dramas spanning the globe from Santa Fe to Venice to Echo Park.
Elizabeth Gilbert wants you to be creative, without fear. Whatever brings you to life, whether it’s learning a dance, writing a song, or drawing on the wall, just do it! But what if you want to review her book?
Essayist, critic, novelist, and public gadfly: Gore Vidal’s long career took many forms and sprang from a life as dramatic as his work. Has that life finally found a biography to do it justice?
In Zachary Thomas Dodson’s visionary and inventive debut novel, a violent past and a dystopian future are woven together into a tale of families, legacies … and bats. Justin Hickey reviews Bats of the Republic.
The New Republic once embodied a vibrant, eclectic liberalism. A new anthology inadvertently tells a depressing story about the decline of that vision.
In Timur Vermes’s bestselling novel, newly translated from the German, it’s 2011, the Führer is back, and he’s not happy at how the world has changed. Is it OK to find that funny?
A Banquet of Consequences is an elegant addition to Elizabeth George’s Inspector Lynley series. Bernard Minier’s mesmerizing The Circle more than fulfills the promise of last year’s auspicious debut The Frozen Dead. And Felix Francis just keeps getting better as he proves with Front Runner.
A sumptuously illustrated and annotated new edition of the classic short works of Edgar Allan Poe
A new anthology looks at the rich, creepy atmosphere that gave rise to the fiction of Edgar Allan Poe – and then was dominated by him as by no other author
In the latest of David Weber’s “Safehold” novels, Industrial-Age technology is coming to a quasi-Renaissance world, ready or not
An effective debut novel looks at the story of famous Cleopatra’s much less-famous sisters
A big new volume commemorates a century of “Best American Short Stories,” which began – as with all worthy things – in Boston a long time ago
The author of such brilliant novels as “Year of Wonders” and “March” takes on the Biblical story of King David
The odd couple military police sergeants Sueno and Bascom return in Martin Limon’s gripping new mystery set in 1970s Korea
The Open Letters team of writers and editors divvies up the Fiction list of the venerable New York Times bestseller list and dives right in – with decidedly mixed reactions.
The Open Letters Bestseller Feature continues, and the body-count rises!
Anne-Marie MacDonald’s Adult Onset is full of extraordinary encounters. For Kerry Clare, some of them are between her own past and present, her life and her (re)reading.
For over sixty years, the story of humanity’s weird fascination with UFOs has been unfolding across nations and societies. A new book goes beyond easy mockery to ask some, er, probing questions.
How do we become ourselves? For Vivian Gornick, wandering the city streets is one way to both ask and answer that question; for us, her book becomes a bracing guide to doing the same.
Three nifty new thrillers star some reigning champs of the genre: Lisbeth Salander, Jack Reacher, and James Bond.
A failed writer seizes on a most unlikely inspiration for his great book: the catastrophically unlucky life of his best friend
In the latest crime novel from Stuart Neville, two young killers are getting paroled – much too soon for the son of their victim
A slim new novel works hard at being clever, with mixed results. Justin Hickey reviews “The Beautiful Bureaucrat”
The author of several well-regarded but unprofitable novels about sensitive misfit boys turns to the industry’s top money-maker: epic fantasy. Disaster promptly ensues.
In 2012, a trio of Antarctic explorers re-traces the path of a doomed expedition from 1913
National Book Award-winner Lily Tuck’s latest book attempts an experiment at dramatizing her memories of her early years
In historian Kate Williams’ new novel, a wealthy family in England confronts the realities of the First World War
A sarcastic screenwriter learns he has only six months to live in this reprinted novel from Edward St. Aubyn from 2000
In the latest chapter of S. M. Stirling’s “Emberverse” series, two courageous women embark on a quest for a supernatural sword
In Zen Cho’s exuberant debut, the magic of Napoleonic-era England is slowly dwindling, and it’s up to the Sorcerer Royal to figure out why
A mother grieving the loss of her own son investigates the 30-year-old disappearance of a powerful Southern family’s little boy in this haunting debut
Think romance novels aren’t worth taking seriously? The Romance Writers of America’s annual convention brings together thousands of smart, self-aware readers and writers ready and able to prove you wrong.
Anthony Powell’s name is synonymous with his twelve-volume behemoth “A Dance to the Music of Time.” But he had a long and varied writing career, and his early novel Venusberg, Levi Stahl contends, is well worth searching out in the shade of “Dance.”
In Stephen Akey’s personal essay, the sex and squalor of William Goldman’s The Temple of Gold appeals to the thirteen-year-old he was when he first encountered it – and prompts an adult reassessment.
Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels — which form a sprawling epic about art, friendship, and power — are what Goethe called Weltliteratur: books that speak to the world, not just to a nation.
For the protagonist of Jim Shepard’s heartbreaking novel The Book of Aron it is terrible to be a poor Jew in anti-Semitic prewar Poland – but it is hardest of all to be a child, at the mercy of everyone else.
Game of Thrones is remarkably faithful to George R. R. Martin’s original epic series, except for one vital element: it transforms his subversive morality into conventional fantasy.
A mystery trio: Louise Penny’s 11th Gamache novel is a stellar addition to the series; Elsa Hart’s debut is a fine historical murder mystery set in 18th-century China; Bernhard Aichner’s first appearance in English is spine-chilling.
A debut adventure starring the smarter older brother of Sherlock Holmes
Michael Swanwick’s terrific new novel features a con artist and a genetically modified dog-man seeking riches and power in a post-post-apocalyptic China
The celebrated author of “The Yacoubian Building” returns with another panoramic look at life in modern Egypt during a pivotal era
In Adrienne Celt’s remarkably rich debut novel, an opera singer is worried that the birth of her daughter has robbed her of her singing voice
In the wake of professional betrayal and global catastrophe, the heroes of Linda Nagata’s “Red” Trilogy are confronted by a new threat as the series barrels on
Book critic Michael Dirda’s latest collection offers more personal musings on the subject he loves most
Bloomsbury publishes a lovely new English-language translation of Sonallah Ibrahim’s great novel about the Lebanese Civil War
You wouldn’t bet on a little street in Edinburgh – or its eccentric inhabitants – surviving a series of world-battering catastrophes, but that’s both the starting and the ending point of Nick Holdstock’s fascinating first novel
In a dusty Vatican archive, an ancient manuscript is found that could change the world. Or whatever.
The woes of empire and the decline of the aristocracy form the backdrop for Jonathan Weisman’s smart and moving debut novel, set in Thatcher’s England.
In this funny and touching debut, a young man’s search for his missing mother leads to unexpected discoveries amid the lights of Las Vegas
In an alternate history in which an undefeated Nazi Germany controls vast portions of Africa, a cast of old friends and enemies come together amid rumors of a devastating new kind of bomb …
Ailing cultural critic Clive James turns in what may very well be his final collection of essays. Robert Minto reviews.
The hero of Linda Nagata’s nifty new series is hard-wired to his battle-armor … but is something else hiding in the connection?
A collection of profiles of eight pivotal American literary men of the 20th century – Robert Minto reviews
On the world of Paradise, the wars of dynasties are fought on battlefields by knights mounted on dinosaurs
Matthew Hawkwood, James McGee’s super-competent soldier-turned-spy, returns in another adventure, this time trapped in America during the War of 1812
In the latest Roman historical novel from old pro Simon Scarrow, two heroic legionaries are chasing an infamous local warlord in Britannia – and facing treachery from within their own ranks
In fan-favorite Ernest Cline’s new book, a young man raised on video games and cheesy sci-fi movies finds that they just might be the key to Earth’s salvation. But is the 80’s nostalgia of Armada self-defeating?
Robyn Cadwallader centers her debut novel on a young nun who volunteers to be walled away from all human contact for the rest of her life. Such women existed and, surprisingly, their lives were enormously full.
Eileen Chang would never have written her hot-button anticommunist masterpiece Naked Earth without US Government encouragement and support. What should contemporary readers make of this?
Was the duel at twenty paces a cancer on civil society or a gesture of defiance and an expression of individuality? Touche: The Duel in Literature looks to provide the reader satisfaction on that question.
Milan Kundera’s newest and possibly final novel returns to the ideas he’s pursued across his career, including his “categorical disagreement with being.” Y. Greyman reviews.
From the Perigord region of France to North Yorkshire, England to the Appalachian Trail – the locations of this trio of new mysteries by old hands might be far-flung, but for our mystery maven, crime is a universal language!
A teenager in Kyoto tries to face the last months of his life as a samurai would – with a little help from his friends
The famous bloody encounter at the center of Albert Camus’ novel The Stranger is re-imagined from a new perspective in Kamel Daoud’s widely-praised debut
In the wake of Bangladesh’s bloody Liberation War, a hapless nonentity suddenly finds himself impersonating a beloved national leader
Federal contractor Jack Taylor takes an unprecedented high-altitude space jump – but when he breaks the sound barrier and makes his landing, he finds himself in a different reality
In Max Gladstone’s latest “Craft” sequence novel, what looks like a straightforward neighborhood gentrification suddenly threatens to unleash the wrath of the gods themselves
The latest monumental anthology from Gardner Dozois of the best the sci-fi genre has to offer
A distant planet crackling with “dark energy” holds mind-boggling secrets for the crew of humans sent to explore it
Years ago, two young girls were abducted and held for two months by a mysterious stranger; in the present, in Maggie Mitchell’s terrific debut novel, these women are now confronted with the suspicion that a part of their childhood ordeal is very much alive.
In the future, a vast corporation sends operatives back in time to loot the past, and those operatives have one rule above all others: bring nobody back with you. When one of those operatives breaks that rule, Wesley Chu’s novel takes off
When enigmatic aliens plunge down in the ocean off the coast of Nigeria, three very different humans encounter them – and watch as the world is changed forever
A decorated Roman soldier accompanies a dangerous mission into barbarian territory in 4th century Britain
The forgotten Midwestern town of Normandy Falls becomes the setting for an increasingly horrifying – and surreal – series of events in Kevin Keating’s outstanding new novel
In “Hostile Takeover,” Shane Kuhn provides a raucous follow-up to his popular novel “The Intern’s Handbook”
Two brothers – one simple-minded, the other quite possibly devious – are at the heart of Stuart Prebble’s new thriller
Three sisters and their various husbands and children gather at the family’s inviting old Cape Cod vacation home, where they face drama, revelation, heartache, and maybe personal re-invention.
A wealthy family in dazzling 1920s Newport, Rhode Island faces problems and revelations in both the material world of their huge estate – and also in the spirit world, where secrets will be revealed
In the early 1720s, the regent of France risked both his young king and his young daughter on high-stakes international gambles in the ongoing War of Succession; a sparkling new novel dramatizes the events
Biographer Zachary Leader takes his readers on a long, detailed tour of the first half of Saul Bellow’s life, and while those readers may be loving it, the critics have been complaining!
Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life emphasized the contingency of any single story. In contrast, her new novel focuses on one life lived to the full. But for better or for worse, Atkinson can’t resist the lure of metafiction…
Why do we read the same story over and over? In Virginia Woolf’s case, it’s to learn again how great art emerged from her strange life of privilege and grief.
A thousand years ago, a refined lady at the Japanese Court wrote the first and one of the greatest novels of all time, The Tale of Genji; Dennis Washburn does the latest translation of this immense work, with stunning results.
Sure, we all know Superman, Wonder Woman, and Spider-Man – but what about the also-rans? Who played the Captain and Tennille to the Avengers’ Sonny and Cher? Zach Rabiroff looks at the heroes who didn’t quite make the prime-time cut.
For decades, famed academic and critic Harold Bloom has been tilting against the windmills of cultural fads and forgettings. But in his latest (and last?) book, he strikes a different pose.
A trio of mysteries cum thrillers from Stephen King, Peter Lovesey, and Mike Lawson—each one in its own way stylish, suspenseful, and sharp.
Sybille Bedford’s great novel – now in a pretty reprint from the New York Review of Books – has the sweep of Edward Gibbon and the emotional vitality of Jane Austen. Robert Minto takes a new look at a classic.
Fifteen hundred years ago, the inhabitants of northeastern Canada encounter intruders from over the sea: Vikings
A rich investment swindler disappears on his boat – and with a great chunk of his ill-gotten gains – and the plot is afoot in the latest thriller from Mary Higgins Clark
Byron the poet was also Byron the prolific correspondent and diarist, as a generous and learned new collection amply demonstrates
In a generous new anthology, a group of talented authors tells stories set in the “Emberverse” of S. M. Stirling – an Earth where all technology has abruptly stopped working
In Iggulden’s ongoing series about the Wars of the Roses, England’s Queen Margaret struggles to hold onto her power – and her life – even as her husband the king slips in and out of sanity
A New Jersey town repeatedly struck by falling planes is the setting for Judy Blume’s new book
A former slave in a brutal empire is now wielding both political and magical power the second volume in Jon Sprunk’s hugely enjoyable “Book of the Black Earth” series
An ambitious debut novel explores the world that gave birth to the meteoric career of Charles Dickens and his lesser-known competitors
A woman dies in Versailles, and her death sets in motion a tangled plot connecting a small group of people in this 2010 novel by Pascal Garnier
The effort of an eccentric earl to re-introduce wolves to England draws a zoologist back to the home she left years before
The steely matriarch of a wealthy family is losing both her health and her control over her family in this sharp debut novel by Sophie McManus
Hausfrau is a grim addition to the array of contemporary novels exploring an old theme: women’s discontent. Rebecca Hussey reviews.
In Anna North’s new novel, many narrative voices attempt to tell the story of film director Sophie Stark – but can any number of perspectives reveal an essentially unknowable character? Katie Gemmill reviews.
Poet, dramatist, and author of the great Italian novel I promessi sposi, Alessandro Manzoni led a life as fascinating as his fiction. Luciano Mangiafico tells the story of the Father of Italian Prose.
The dark, crime-ridden world of Putin’s Kremlin and Victorian Scotland Yard aren’t as different as you might think – as two gripping new mysteries demonstrate.
A young monk goes on a desperate quest in the 12th century – to a fable city called Venetia
A plucky, unlikely teen heroine and a brooding, idealistic teen hero form an unlikely relationship as they fight the oppression of their world in … well, every single YA novel ever written, including this one.
At the heart of this astounding work of fantasy broods a jungle called the Vorrh, a forest so unending that it warps time and steals souls.
An Indian driver and his enormous war-elephant experience the treacheries and triumphs of Alexander the Great’s Babylon campaign
In the new novel from James Cambias, a space pirate in the near future – and the enforcer hunting him – encounter something neither one expects
When a renegade mage steals a powerful book of sorcery, the world of Marc Turner’s fantasy debut is plunged into a disturbing new form of warfare
Charles Boxer and Mercy Danquah are both kidnap specialists who’ve solved many tough cases. But in their latest, the missing person is their own daughter – and she doesn’t want to be found
Two men meet by chance in a 1960s cafe – and remember a time twenty years earlier when they were captor and prisoner at Auschwitz
Is the artist painting heath landscapes in England during World War II a mild-mannered hero of military campaigns or a spy? Gerard Woodward’s spellbinding novel starts there and then travels over the whole of an improbable life story
The Tim Parks essays collected in this pretty volume range over the whole landscape of the book-world, from endangered copyright to foreign-lit chic to the inescapability of Jonathan Franzen
In the latest Star Wars novel, Darth Vader and his evil Emperor are trapped on a hostile world, being hunted by man and beast
If Richard Pryor had spent time in the ghettos of L.A. County and had any interest in writing a novel, he might have come up with a book like Paul Beatty’s The Sellout: a beautifully offensive meditation on riches and race.
Nothing shakes up the literary establishment like women writers — or women readers — who won’t stay quietly in their place.
Usually Kazuo Ishiguro’s narrators implicate us in their world, reminding us of all we have in common. But in his new novel we are strangers looking at an unrecognizable landscape.
Donna Leon’s 24th book starring the charismatic Commissario Guido Brunetti, Falling in Love, is every bit as spellbinding as we expect it to be. Martin Walker’s seventh featuring Bruno, Dordogne’s favorite chief of police, The Children Return, finds his small town shockingly targeted by a terrorist network.
Mary Robinette Kowal’s sparkling “Glamourist” fantasy series comes to a complex and intriguing conclusion
Jonathan Lethem’s latest book continues his project of combining the literary and the pulpy – Robert Minto reviews.
Giant eels, dragon-scammers, and of course Sasquatch himself feature in Chris Tarry’s delightfully gonzo debut short story collection
The passionate, unconventional life of novelist George Sand forms the backdrop for Elizabeth Berg’s new novel
In the dystopian future of Jeffrey Rotter’s fantastic novel, Copernican astronomy has been forgotten – but its secrets lie buried under what was once Florida
The main character of Adam Thirlwell’s new novel has no redeeming qualities whatsoever – and he’s sinfully easy to read about
Hilary Mantel’s best-selling Tudor novels, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, have made their way to the stage on the expert handling of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Zach Rabiroff had front row center.
The incestuously-close relationship between a literary biographer and his subject lies at the heart of Hanif Kureishi’s new novel
In Michel Houellebecq’s uncannily timely new novel, the triumph of an Islamist government relieves the dreary banality that defines the secular France of the 21st century.
On its schematic blueprints, the latest book by noted literary polymath Alberto Manguel is “about” Dante’s Divine Comedy – but as Robert Minto discovers, this author is at his best when he’s digressing.
An Orwellian dystopia, a deposed humanity, and a cat passionately in love with a dog – Justin Hickey reviews Robert Repino’s fiendishly clever novel Mort(e).
Set in the precarious territory between fiction and history, Nicolas Rothwell’s beautiful, haunting Belomor explores the ways storytelling serves as an impetus for self-discovery.
The star translating team of Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky (aided this time by Richard Nelson) translate Turgenev’s A Month in the Country, with predictably disruptive results. Jack Hanson reviews.
Two grand novels of crime and passion from a pair of stars in the field: The Lady from Zagreb by Philip Kerr and Dennis Lehane’s World Gone By.
The high school students in Tommy Wallach’s fantastic debut face more than graduation and an uncertain job market: they face an honest-to-gosh killer asteroid
A young boy and his gorgeous white elephant become apprenticed to the greatest architect of the Ottoman Empire in this stunning new novel by the author of “The Bastard of Istanbul”
In the latest Princeton “Writers on Writers” installment, novelist Colm Toibin writes about poet Elizabeth Bishop
In N. K. Traver’s exciting debut, a young cyber-hacker finds his life steadily being commandeered – but his own reflection in the mirror.
In Dan Simmons’ latest fantastic novel, Henry James finds himself teamed up with fiction’s most famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, in order to solve a very real – and very heartbreaking – mystery.
At the outbreak of the First World War, American writers flocked to Europe and headed for the Western Front in order to find their Muse – and to make some quick cash. A new book follows a handful of these earliest chroniclers
In the concluding volume of James Enge’s gripping fantasy trilogy, a band of unlikely heroes is caught between warring godlike beings in a world quickly tearing itself apart
“I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work,” Woody Allen famously quipped; “I want to achieve immortality through not dying.” Robert Minto reviews a new book on what it takes to make it big in the literary afterlife
In a dystopian future, a plucky young woman from a poor village suddenly finds herself at the heart of the corrupt power system and the focal point of a rebellion in “The Hunger Ga-” um, in Victoria Aveyard’s “The Red Queen.”
For over a century, Oscar Wilde’s notebook on Thomas Chatterton has been regarded as a ‘smoking gun’ of Wilde’s plagiaristic tendencies. A new book radically re-examines the issue
Joanna Stafford – niece of an executed man and distant cousin to King Henry VIII – is called to court, where she immediately becomes the focal point of deadly intrigues
Three impressionable young 13th-century Franciscans embark on an improbably odyssey to bring a momentous manuscript to the Pope
In a world very much like our own, super-powered clandestine operatives vie with each other on missions to save or destroy humanity
Sabina, the wife of the enigmatic Roman emperor Hadrian, is beset by enemies in Rome – and safeguards a secret they’d all kill to know …
A businessman is on a trip to new-money Tunisia when the world’s economy goes into meltdown…
Can you improve on a classic? A new novel retells George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda — but much more is lost than gained in the attempt.
The great Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa claims he became a writer in order to annoy his father; his new novel takes up this age-old theme of the strife between fathers and sons.
As we should expect from someone whose previous work is both experimental and kinky, Miranda July has written a first novel that refuses to play by the rules.
Despite his iconic status today, in the 19th century Sherlock Holmes was neither the alpha nor the omega of crime fighters: a fascinating new book introduces us to his many contemporaries.
Ron Howard’s adaptation of Nathaniel Philbrick’s bestselling In the Heart of the Sea will soon appear, but even the trailers raise rich questions: Why does this story still have the power to fascinate? A Moby-Dick fan ponders.
When we say of someone that they died too early, does this posit that there is a perfect time? How does the meaning of a life change the longer it’s lived. Jenny Erpenbeck’s new novel End of Days explores some answers.
Stalking the pages of Thomas Pierce’s debut story collection, where the surreal shares quarters with the ordinary, are dwarf mammoths, genetically modified guard dogs, baby Pippin monkeys, and a parakeet named Magnificent.
The Friendship of Criminals by Robert Glinski is a fresh, original and totally entertaining perspective on mob relationships; A Murder of Magpies is Judith Flanders deliciously wry take on murder and publishing.
In this New York Times bestseller, a hapless woman spots a mysterious event from the window of her commuter train and is soon caught up in a police investigation.
Driven into hiding by the victorious forces of William the Conqueror, the heroic Hereward the Wake and his band of freedom fighters must struggle to survive
A strong-willed Bavarian princess captures the eye of the young Austro-Hungarian emperor in Allison Pataki’s opulent new historical novel. Steve Donoghue reviews.
In Jo Walton’s latest novel, the “just city” of Plato’s Republic is brought to life via Greek gods, robots, and a little discreet time travel
In Dewey Lambdin’s latest rousing Alan Lewrie adventure, our dashing hero sees action off the coast of a Spain imperiled by Napoleon
In V. E. Schwab’s new fantasy novel, a young man can travel between a string of alternate-reality Londons
In Matt Sumell’s debut, his main character manages to alienate every other person in the book, often by punching them.
For twenty-five years, the “Table Talk” feature of The Threepenny Review has offered occasional musings on a wide range of topics by some of the best freelance writers and critics in the business. A new hardcover collects a generous helping of highlights
When a 21st-century woman travels to the hometown of Emily Dickinson, she finds herself caught between a passionate present and a past far more human than she imagined
In the very engaging latest from Sharma Shields, one family has a very unusual encounter with the legendary Bigfoot
A small group of Americans visit a super-secret Chinese nature-park with a very unusual star attraction.
The author of “Dogwalker” returns with a new collection of interlinked short stories that revel in their own straight-faced absurdity
In this arresting debut, a young woman working in Paris is hiding from her past – and she worries that the old friends she betrayed are hunting her.
To shut down his internal censors, Karl Ove Knausgaard wrote My Struggle at the astounding rate of over a thousand pages a year. The result is fiction that is vibrantly alive.
Any new translation of a classic like Anna Kareninainevitably raises an awkward question: what was wrong with all the old translations? Debut writer Zach Rabiroff takes it line-by-line
Claudia Rankine articulates the truths of the black experience so poignantly in her celebrated collection Citizen by putting them, paradoxically, both plainly and artfully.
A slim picaresque novel that was a runaway bestseller in France gets a stylish English-language translation
A true believer in the tenets of Darwinism in the 19th Century goes on what amounts to a pilgrimage to that great Darwinian destination, the Galapagos Islands, in James Morrow’s glowing new novel
Only one man can possibly save a plague- and fire-stricken sub that’s burning and adrift at the top of the world …
When young Promise’s family is killed on their peaceful frontier planet, she signs up with the space-Marines – as one tends to do in such circumstances
The legendary fantasy author Michael Moorcock returns after a long absence to the genre he helped to create
Michael Mewshaw comes not to praise Gore Vidal but to bury him in this new memoir of a friendship that did not outlast Mr. Vidal’s funeral.
It’s comforting to believe there are lessons to be learned from the Holocaust, or to treat it as a story about the triumph of the human spirit. Jona Oberski’s Childhood rightly refuses us these consolations.
The voice of poetry can often be the voice of lyric witness, turning our attention to moments in history that would have eluded us, or that might never have been felt as well as understood. These titles perform this function about as well as it can be done.
The contemporary American short story is a kind of stunt double for the novel. Monica McFawn’s Bright Shards of Someplace Else is one such collection, each of its eleven stories posturing like a dare accepted.
Historical novelist Andrew Levkoff stuffs the last installment of his “Bow of Heaven” trilogy with battles, love, loyalty betrayed, crucifixion, cross-purposes, loyalty regained, and deep reflections on what it all means.
Open Letters Monthly interviews the author of Blood of Eagles, book three of the Bow of Heaven series.
Book critic James Wood is a fascinating collection of contradictions: an apostate true believer, a champion of experimental fiction, an earnest searcher in empty temples. Sam Sacks reads one of our foremost readers.
Nora Webster may be Colm Tóibín’s slightest novel yet, but his later novels are born from and echo this wise and intimate investigation of the interior life.
Literature by post-Yugoslavian writers is often about identity in flux. That includes the books of David Albahari, one of the most widely read of contemporary Serbian authors and one of the most worth reading.
The author made immortal by the novel Dune also wrote a career’s worth of short stories. Robert Minto looks at the first-ever complete collection of those stories.
Norman Mailer was as fiery and mercurial a letter-writer as he was a novelist and journalist – and ten times as prolific. A big new volume collects the highlights of a lifetime in the post.
Now back in print: an English translation of iconic Polish writer (and compulsive re-inventor of himself) Marek Hlasko’s most powerful novel.
“Our belief in Literature has collapsed” Lars Iyer once wrote, but his new novel Wittgenstein Jr, the story of a passionate philosophy professor and his apathetic students, bristles with literary faith.
A veteran and a newcomer give us two gripping thrillers: The Big Finish by the critically acclaimed master of suspense, James W. Hall, and The Life We Bury, a mesmerizing debut by Allen Eskens.
Against a pervasive American sports culture, author Steve Allmond pits a devastating critique of the savage violence – and staggering toll in injuries and deaths – of football.
Title Menu: A list of great political books that doesn’t include What It Takes by Richard Ben Cramer
Just in time for the November midterm elections, we do what doubters said couldn’t be done: we present you with a list of ten great political books that doesn’t include Richard Ben Cramer’s What It Takes.
Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Marilynne Robinson returns to small-town Iowa in this new novel full of deceptive calms and clear mastery.
A reissue of James Agee’s letters to Father Flye give a picture of the writer’s naked ambition, excoriating self-hatred, and unrefined genius. But it also raises the question: Do we remember Agee more for what he wrote or what his addictions prevented him from writing?
Felix Francis continues to artfully follow in his late father’s footsteps with his newest thriller, Dick Francis’s Damage. The Button Man, Mark Pryor’s fourth Hugo Marston novel, is a prequel that adds a fascinating dimension to the highly charismatic protagonist of this splendid series.
As Hollywood looks to science fiction and fantasy novels for the ‘source material’ of its newest CGI spectaculars, Justin Hickey picks ten sci-fi/fantasy books he hopes the studios never find and ruin …
In his latest collection of essays, Theater of Cruelty, Ian Buruma launches a series of expert investigations into the springs of cruelty and the perils of victomhood.
The wide-ranging themes of this wrenching novel are unified by imagery that links its heroine to an unexpected community of the traumatized living dead.
Martin Amis’ new novel not only delves into the souls of a small group of characters involved in the running of concentration camp – it also interrogates the very nature of Holocaust fiction. Jack Hanson reads the latest from the author of Time’s Arrow.
James Ellroy begins a second L.A. Quartet with his new novel Perfidia. But does it harness the demonic madness and stylistic panache of the author’s earlier works of historical crime fiction?
A British historian’s richly-sourced accounting of Molotov-Ribbentrop offers fresh insights into this Nazi-Soviet pact of “non-aggression.”