Translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein, ‘Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay’ is the third volume of Elena Ferrante’s series of Neapolitan Novels following My Brilliant Friend and The Story of a New Name. The book opens with Elena and Lila aged in their sixties coming across the body of their childhood friend Gigliola in a church flower bed. Lila doesn’t want Elena to write an autobiographical novel about their friendship causing Elena to reflect on their early adulthood towards the end of the 1960s. Elena is engaged to be married to Pietro, a professor she met at university, and has recently published her first novel which has caused something of a stir amongst critics. Meanwhile, having left Nino, Lila is living with Enzo and working in Bruno Soccava’s sausage factory whilst bringing up her son Gennaro. Nevertheless, they remain bound to each other through their friendship and rivalry. Continue reading
Longlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize, ‘Did You Ever Have a Family’ by Bill Clegg opens with an explosion caused by a gas leak at June Reid’s house on the morning of her daughter’s wedding. The resulting fire destroys the whole house and kills June’s boyfriend Luke, ex-husband Adam, daughter Lolly, and Lolly’s fiancé William. June is the sole survivor and in the wake of the tragedy, she drives across the country to Washington. During her journey, details about the lives of the characters involved and the cause of the fire begin to emerge. Continue reading
Yesterday, I went to a special bloggers reception for the Young Writer of the Year Award at the Groucho Club in London. Sponsored by the Sunday Times and literary agency Peters Fraser & Dunlop, the prize recognises the best literary work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry by a British or Irish writer aged 35 and under, with £5,000 awarded to the winner for outstanding literary merit.
Translated from the French by Frank Wynne, ‘The Great Swindle’ is something of a departure for Pierre Lemaitre from his crime fiction series of novels featuring detective Camille Verhoeven. Originally titled ‘Au-revoir là-haut’, it won the Prix Goncourt in 2013 which is one of the most prestigious literary prizes in France. In the final days of the First World War, Lieutenant Henri d’Aulnay-Pradelle secretly shoots two of his own men in the back to make other troops believe they were killed by the enemy and provoke a final attack on the Germans, thus establishing his reputation as a war hero. However, Albert Maillard and Édouard Péricourt have witnessed his crime and are gravely injured when Aulnay-Pradelle attempts to kill them too. After the armistice, Édouard assumes the identity of another dead soldier and embarks on an elaborate money-making scheme with Albert. Continue reading
‘In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom’ is Yeonmi Park’s account of how she escaped from North Korea when she was thirteen years old. Born in 1993, Park left Hyesan with her mother in an attempt to track down her older sister Eunmi who had already defected. However, they were sold to traffickers in China where they both experienced horrific abuse. Two years later, they fled across the Gobi desert to Mongolia before arriving in South Korea where Park has since become a leading human rights activist. Continue reading
I originally intended to write a blog post about ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ by Ken Kesey during Banned Books Week (27th September – 3rd October). However, I fell a bit behind with my reviewing around that time and while it’s important to have these events to spread awareness, reading banned books needn’t be restricted to just one week of the year. First published in 1962 followed by an equally famous film adaptation in 1975 starring Jack Nicholson, the story is set in a psychiatric hospital in Oregon and follows the lives of the patients who live under the controlled regime of Nurse Ratched. However, the arrival of a new patient, Randle McMurphy, who faked insanity to serve his prison sentence in what he believed would be more comfortable surroundings, soon changes everything.
This week, I was lucky enough to get a place at a special launch event for ‘Career of Evil’, the third book in the crime fiction series by J. K. Rowling written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. I really enjoyed The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm and was very keen to read the latest instalment of Cormoran Strike’s adventures.
To celebrate the launch, the publishers of ‘Career of Evil’ teamed up with Time Run to organise a special crime thriller version of a live gaming experience where teams need to solve clues and puzzles to “escape” the room as quickly as possible. Based in Hackney, it’s been described by the Metro as “immersive theatre meets Crystal Maze but better”. This definitely wasn’t going to be a typical book launch… Continue reading