Newest Literary Fiction Reviews

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The Emperor of Shoes by Spencer Wise

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Literary Fiction

The Emperor of Shoes is the story of Alex Cohen, the heir to a lucrative shoe factory based in southern China. More idealistic than his profit-obsessed father, and less motivated solely by the bottom line, he's unsure of himself: unsure whether he can continue his father's success. But complications arise when he starts to question how morally sound the business really is, and whether the workers are being given a fair deal. Full Review


The Aviator by Eugene Vodolazkin and Lisa Hayden (Translator)

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Literary Fiction

Innokenty Petrovich Platonov wakes up in a hospital bed with no recollection of who he is or how he got there. He is tended by a single doctor, Doctor Geiger, who gives him a pencil and notebook and encourages him to write down his observations and memories. The notebook is thick, like a novel. How can Innokenty fill it if he cannot remember anything? But slowly the memories start to return, memories of childhood holidays at the beach, of life in the dacha, of the airfield and the aviators...and the seems like some memories may be better left buried. He remembers that he is the same age as the century, born in 1900. But if that is the case, how is he still a young man when the pills by his bedside are dated 1999? Full Review


The Gradual Disappearance of Jane Ashland by Nicolai Houm and Anna Paterson (translator)

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews General Fiction, Literary Fiction

Jane Ashland is dying. That's a description of a very early scene here – but also, of course, a platitude that can apply to all of us. Jane's life, if anything, is going up and down in levels of pleasure, energy – sobriety – in these pages, but we soon learn that it recently found a very deeply dark down place. Here then, scattered through a timeline-bending narrative, we have her days finding a Lincolnesque lover as a student in New York, glimpses of therapy, a drive to find her ancestors that takes her from rural America to Norway – and a trip there with a new-found friend to watch the musk oxen, of all things. And nowhere in sight is anything like a platitude… Full Review


Black Sugar by Miguel Bonnefoy and Emily Boyce (translator)

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Literary Fiction

Miguel Bonnefoy's Black Sugar is a sensual epic chronicling three generations of the Otero family. The tale begins with the disappearance of Captain Henry Morgan's treasure and then illustrates the power this treasure holds over people. Multiple people become obsessed with finding this fabled treasure that has become an urban legend in the town in which the story is set. Full Review


The Zero and the One by Ryan Ruby

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Literary Fiction

The Zero and the One is an incredibly well written and well crafted book. We meet our narrator, Owen, on the plane to New York for the funeral of his best friend. He is still reeling after recent events, a suicide pact in which his friend died but he lived, and he is going through the motions of the funeral and consoling family whilst still trying to get to grips with his own feelings of grief and guilt. So far, so simple. But this is where the talent of Ryan Ruby steps in and slowly, so slowly, he reveals little tantalising clues that all is not what it seems, a throw-away comment here, a mis-step there, and it becomes clear that Owen is not a reliable narrator. Full Review


Anatomy of a Miracle by Jonathan Miles

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Look closely at the cover of Jonathan Miles's third novel and you'll see the central drama depicted: white wheelchair tracks snake up from the bottom and stop three-quarters of the way from the top, where they are replaced by footprints. On 23 August 2014, wheelchair-bound veteran Cameron Harris stands up and walks outside the Biz-E-Bee convenience store in Biloxi, Mississippi. In the rest of the novel we find out how he got to this point and what others – ranging from his doctor to representatives of the Roman Catholic Church – will make of his recovery. Was it a miracle, or an explainable medical phenomenon? Full Review

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Fire on the Mountain by Jean McNeil

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Literary Fiction

This is an unusual book, in style it feels like a novel by E M Forster; with a deep study at the minutiae of life and thought, yet the plot and content is thoroughly modern. The bulk of the story is told through the perspective of Nick, and we see his point of view on life around him. The main characters of the book, however, are Pieter and Riaan, as it is these characters who fascinate Nick and are the focus of his contemplation and crisis. Full Review

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The Last of the Greenwoods by Clare Morrall

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Literary Fiction

Down in hidden railway carriages, deep behind foliage and further down Long Meadow Road than most care to go, live the Greenwood Brothers. They haven't spoken to each other in years, but one morning a letter arrives on their doorstep - a letter from a sister long thought dead...As the brothers are forced to confront painful memories of a past that both tried to keep buried, the post-woman who delivered the letter struggles with secrets of her own... Full Review

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The Baghdad Clock by Shahad Al Rawi

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction

The Baghdad Clock is a tale of two friends growing up during the first and second Iraqi war. Shahad Al Rawi uses magic realism to illustrate the displacement felt by a young girl and her neighbourhood. The novel introduces us to the various characters surrounding the protagonist. They are full of life and yet never seem to add anything to the central narrative. Rawi, it would seem, has a problem with telling a story. Full Review

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The Coffin Path by Katherine Clements

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Literary Fiction, Horror, Historical Fiction

Maybe you've heard about Scarcross Hall? Hidden on the old coffin path that winds from the village to the moor top, the villagers only speak of it in hushed tones - of how it's a foreboding place filled with evil. Mercy Booth has lived there since birth, and she's always loved the grand house and its isolation, but a recurrence of strange events begins to unsettle her. From objects disappearing through to a shadowy presence sensed in the house, mysteries come to light that can only be solved by Mercy unearthing long-buried secrets. And will a dark stranger help Mercy protect everything she has come to love or tear it from her grasp? Full Review

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The Execution of Justice by Friedrich Durrenmatt and John E Woods (translator)

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Crime

It's 1957, and we're somewhere in Switzerland, and there's just one case on everyone's lips – the simple fact that a politician has gone into the crowded room of one of those 'the place to go' restaurants, and point blank shot a professor everyone there must have known, and ferried a British companion to the airport in his chauffeur-driven Rolls before handing himself in to face the murder rap. Of course he's found guilty, even if the gun involved has managed to disappear. He's certainly of much interest, not only to our narrator, a young lawyer called Spaet – even if he rarely gets to frequent such establishments with such people, he is eager to know more, especially once he is actually tasked by the man in hand to look into things a second time. But what's this, where he opens his testimony about the affair with the conclusion, that he himself will need to turn killer to redress the balance? Full Review

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The Impostor by Javier Cercas and Frank Wynne (translator)

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Literary Fiction

Enric Marco is without doubt an extraordinary man. A veteran of the Spanish Civil War, honoured for his bravery on the battlefield. A political prisoner of two fascist regimes. A survivor of the Nazi concentration camps. A prominent figure in the clandestine resistance against Franco's tyranny. A tireless warrior for social justice and the defence of human rights. A national hero. But the most extraordinary thing about Enric Marco is this: that he is really none of these things. He is an impostor. And Javier Cercas sets out to tell his story – the true story of Spain's most notorious liar. Full Review

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A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars by Yaba Badoe

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews, Literary Fiction, General Fiction, Teens

Sante was a baby when she was washed ashore in a sea-chest laden with treasure. It seems she is the sole survivor of the tragic sinking of a ship carrying migrants and refugees. Her people. Fourteen years on she's a member of Mama Rose's unique and dazzling circus. But, from their watery grave, the unquiet dead are calling Sante to avenge them. A bamboo flute. A golden bangle. A ripening mango which must not fall... if Sante is to tell their story and her own. Full Review

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The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao by Martha Batalha and Eric M B Becker (translator)

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Literary Fiction

On the surface, young housewife Euridice Gusmao has it all. A nice-enough, parent-pleasing husband with a steady banking job, two young children upon whom to dote, an immaculate home complete with maid. That's all anyone could ever want, isn't it? Not Euridice. She has an inexplicable ache inside her for something more, like many of us. Yet each of her pet projects, from a desire to publish a recipe book to starting a cottage sewing industry in her living room, are met with scorn from her stern husband Antenor. He wants a wife who doesn't draw attention to herself, whose only domains are her house and her family. Full Review

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The Dark-Blue Winter Overcoat and other stories from the North by Sjon Hodgkinson and Ten Hodgkinson (editors)

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Anthologies, Literary Fiction, Short Stories

A compilation like this should be nigh on brilliant. It's not one author's best short works, it's that of a dozen. It's not from one snapshot in time, as some were written the year of publication and some in the 1960s. It's not from one tiny patch of author's desk or one set of laptop keys, but from the entire Nordic world, whether that be urban Scandinavia, the Faroes and other island groups, or Greenland. That is a world that's changing – as the Greenland-born author now living in Brooklyn, and the Iraqi blood on these pages, testify. It's a world where new roads and new building works mean a family living on the edge of the forest at the beginning of the story are being surrounded by other life by the end, and with the influence of centuries of folklore featured, a lot more than that changes – sometimes it seems to be even the characters' species… Full Review

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Companions by Christina Hesselholdt and Paul Russell Garrett (translator)

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Literary Fiction

Companions is written as a series of monologues, where six middle-aged friends take it in turns to narrate scenes from their lives, charting the intimate details of their holidays, dinner parties, families, marriages, affairs and work lives in a style that mixes honesty and openness with fantasy and evasion. The charm of the novel lies in the way the friends' voices bicker with one another among the pages, as we discover that there are always several sides to the same story. We learn most about the characters not through what they say about themselves but through what the others say about them. Along the way, there is heartbreak and grief, but this is always offset by an abundance of humour and a writing style that never fails to be refreshingly light-hearted. Full Review

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Stranger by David Bergen

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Literary Fiction

Stranger tells the story of Íso, a young Guatemalan woman, and her affair with an American doctor. When an accident forces him to return to the States, she is left pregnant and lonely. Her anguish becomes even more profound when her daughter is abducted, and taken to live with the doctor and his wife. What followed - tales of the journey Íso embarked upon in the hope of finding her baby - was an amazing story of the lengths a mother will go to in order to save her child. Full Review

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Rain Falls On Everyone by Clar Ni Chonghaile

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Literary Fiction

It's a cliché that the Irish have a picturesque turn of phrase, but clichés only exist because they're true. Roddy Doyle put it differently in a recent interview with Writing magazine, when he said that With Irish, there's another language bubbling under the English. However you express it, that art of expression is woven into every other line of Clár's prose. Pick a page at random and you'll find something like the sickness that had come to roost in her home like a cursed owl or like he was God, Jesus and Justin Timberlake rolled into one or a low sobbing, slow and inevitable as rain on a Sunday: expressions that catch your smile unawares, or tear at your heart in their mundane sadness. Or sometimes both. Full Review

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Sinful Words by Hesene Mete

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Literary Fiction

When we meet him, Behram is a student at the school of theology. He loves God with a passion and has a determination to live a life dedicated to God and to live by His rules. He rents a property from Lulu Khan and his wife, Lady Geshtina and Khan invites Behram to his own home for a visit. It's a delightful place and the wealth of the couple is obvious as is their standing within the local community: Lady Geshtina's late father is buried in what amounts to a mausoleum, but it's not all this which enchants Behram. The couple have twin children and Behram is taken, enthralled by the daughter, Nagina. Full Review