How to write a review

If you’re not famous for something else, if you don’t have some high profile names to spread the word, then you’re largely reliant on reviews, awards, and word-of-mouth. Tim Clare, author and poet, Three Weeks in the Life of a New Book (2019) Before you even get going, read Tim Clare’s blog on the importance […]

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Mexican Gothic

by Silvia Moreno-Garcia Family bonds have never been so strong 1950s socialite, Noemí, receives a worrying letter from her recently married cousin, Catalina, and sets off to investigate. Catalina is now living with husband, Virgil, at his family home, High Place, a remote, dilapidated pile in which the family’s history and traditions are kept very […]

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Fever Dream

by Samanta Schweblin (trans. Megan McDowell) Feverish, Argentinian horror. Lying in a hospital bed in rural Argentina, Amanda is visited by eight-year-old stranger, David. A traumatic and terrifying event has brought her to this point and the precocious David cajoles her into confronting the memory. Amanda is immobile and David explains ‘It’s the worms. You […]

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Fox

by Dubravka Ugresic Narrated as though a series of autobiographical essays, heavily footnoted with real and fictitious references, and foxtrotting across continents, cultures and history, Fox takes on the persona of its namesake to explore storytelling, to challenge the form of the novel, and to comment on human survival. Like the fox, the novel is […]

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The Society of Reluctant Dreamers

by José Eduardo Agualusa, Daniel Hahn (Translator) Surreal political fable. Angolan journalist, Daniel Benchimol, comes across a mango-yellow camera floating in the sea. The camera belongs to Moira, the Cotton-Candy-Hair-Woman. Daniel hasn’t met Moira yet, but he has been dreaming about her. They meet and become involved with a Brazilian neuroscientist creating a machine to […]

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Paradise Rot

by Jenny Hval, Marjam Idriss (Translator) Hyper-sensual, surreal and as intense as bletted fruit. Norwegian student, Jo, arrives in a new country to study biology. The strangeness of her new life becomes stranger still when she finds accommodation in a former brewery. The building is rotten to the core. Through its paper-thin, partial partitions, Jo […]

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The Hearing Trumpet

Leonora Carrington Effervescent, hilarious and life-affirming. Marian Leatherby, 92, is given a hearing trumpet only to discover her family wants to pack her off to an old peoples’ home. On arrival, Marian’s dread turns to wonder. The facility comprises a collection of fantastical dwellings in which the larger-than-life residents live. Marian soon becomes embroiled in […]

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Boy, Snow, Bird

Helen Oyeyemi A wicked stepmother, a bullying rat-catcher father and Snow White in 1950s-60s small-town America. Oyeyemi writes with a style as naïve as any fairytale, and just as magical. Like all the best folklore, Boy, Snow, Bird has something lurking, dark and dreadful, bullying below the surface. In this case, it is racism, racial […]

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Killing Commendatore

Haruki Murakami, transl. Philip Gabriel and Ted Goossen A male thirtysomething artist at a crossroads in his life discovers a painting in the attic. A bell mysteriously rings in the woods in the dead of night, always at the same time. Then, one by one, characters from the painting make an appearance. This has everything […]

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The Old Drift

Exuberant Zambian historico-futuristic matrilineal saga-of-sorts. In following the matrilineal lines, Serpell redresses history written by the victor/man. So, less about politics and more on the domestic front, less about wielding power and more on the receiving end. The hysterical realism mode (typified by a strong contrast between elaborately absurd prose, plotting, or characterization, on the […]

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Hawthorn & Child

Keith Ridgway Hallucinogenic noir. Sharply-dressed detectives, Hawthorn and Child, investigate a drive-by shooting on London’s mean streets. Further bizarre and grisly events unfurl. As the dapper duo turn their attention to each new crime, earlier incidents peel away discarded. Marketed as a novel, Hawthorn and Child more closely resembles a series of interconnected, unresolved short […]

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Thus Were Their Faces

Silvina Ocampo Weird, surreal, shot through with the blackest humour, and quite breathtaking. A retrospective of the short stories of Silvina Ocampo, spanning almost fifty years of her prolific writing career. Ocampo was denied Argentina’s National Prize for Literature for the reason that her writing was ‘desmasiado crueles’. This collection represents those stories deemed ‘too […]

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