Book review: The Siege of Krishnapur, by J G Farrell, 1973

I found myself becoming increasingly troubled by J G Farrell’s Booker prize winning ‘The Siege of Krishnapur’. It is not a bad novel, but it has some serious flaws. It is based on the Indian Mutiny of 1857/8. In India this conflict is known as the Indian rebellion, but you would not know that fromContinue reading “Book review: The Siege of Krishnapur, by J G Farrell, 1973”

Book Review: A Bend in the River, by V S Naipaul, 1979

‘A Bend in the River’ reads like an updating of Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’, taken 60 or 70 years forward into the post-independence period. As with ‘Heart of Darkness’, ‘A Bend’ is set in an unnamed African country in the interior of the continent. The setting is not the only similarity between these books –Continue reading “Book Review: A Bend in the River, by V S Naipaul, 1979”

Book review: The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe (1838)

One of my reasons for exploring the Guardian’s ‘best 100 novels written in English’ list is to try and find some hidden gems – books that I have not come across before that are really worth reading. Poe’s only novel, “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket‘ meets only one of these criteria –Continue reading “Book review: The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe (1838)”

Book review: Slaughterhouse 5, by Kurt Vonnegut, 1969

I’ve written elsewhere on the mysterious process that is re-reading a novel. The experience ranges from a comforting stroll down memory lane, to the more common “I know I have read this, but for the life of me can’t remember a single thing about it”. Slaughterhouse 5 was for me definitely a re-read, and IContinue reading “Book review: Slaughterhouse 5, by Kurt Vonnegut, 1969”

Book review: The True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey, 2000

By coincidence, following on from my previous review of ‘In Cold Blood’, this is another novelisation of factual events. More specifically, this novel is (effectively) a biography of Ned Kelly, the famous Australian outlaw, written in the first person using Kelly’s own distinctive personal style. Kelly was a first generation Australian, son of transported IrishContinue reading “Book review: The True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey, 2000”

Book review: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, 1966

Read in Abacus edition. This non-fiction novel (Capote’s term for it) describes the murder of the Clutter family, a mid-Western American family, and the subsequent arrest, conviction, and execution of their killers, Hickock and Smith. It’s a banal and senseless murder, and despite the meticulous way it is reconstructed by Capote he never really getsContinue reading “Book review: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, 1966”

Book review: Disgrace, by J M Coetzee, 1999

Disgrace follows the downfall and disgrace of David Lurie, a lecturer in Communications at Cape Town University. He is 52 and twice divorced. His job at the university has recently been redefined, prefiguring some of the significant changes in South African society that form the backdrop to and context of this novel. Lurie has aContinue reading “Book review: Disgrace, by J M Coetzee, 1999”

Book review: The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

I was originally going to describe this Booker Prize winning novel as “a bit of a curate’s egg”, that is to say good in parts, but thinking about it further that would be wrong, unfair and confusing. Why so? The phrase derives, as I am sure you know, from a Punch cartoon of the lateContinue reading “Book review: The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan”

Book review: Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle, 1993

Winner of the Booker Prize in 1993 I made a sincere effort to read as many of the Booker Prize winners as could reasonably be expected earlier this year (see a number of reviews) – but the award of this year’s Booker to Hilary Mantel for Bring Out the Bodies, the sequel to the 2009Continue reading “Book review: Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle, 1993”

Book review: The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst

Continuing in my attempt to catch up with the best part of a life time of not reading Booker prize winners, I recently finished, not without a fair amount of persistence, Alan Hollinghurst’s “The Line of Beauty”. Hollinghurst is a slow writer – he has only written half a dozen novels in total – andContinue reading “Book review: The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst”