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Book Reviews
Muñoz Molina In the Night of Time
It’s October 1936 and the architect Ignacio Abel arrives at Penn Station, having fled Madrid in the throes of Civil War. He has left his wife and two children in the Spanish capital. Not only is his wife older than him, but she is from a higher social class. The son of a bricklayer who has become a bourgeois professional, Ignacio has been commissioned to design a library building in the USA.
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In the course of this entrancing 640-page novel, translated by Edith Grossman, Abel reflects on the catastrophic conflict at home, and vividly records his affair with the American woman, Judith Biely, whom he met in Madrid. A compelling, deeply sensual story which, in the right hands, would make a very fine film. PK
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Tim Butcher The Trigger
Tim Butcher’s fascinating account demonstrably proves that while the young Serb Gavrilo Princip may have been the Trigger, he was certainly not the cause of the First World War. The author examines the complex background to the young man's fateful action, and he interviews the last surviving members of the Princip family, as he teases the truth from the half-truth. Paddy Kehoe
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Georges Simenon The Blue Room
Tony is married to the Gisele and they have a young daughter while the childless Andrée is the wife of the sickly Nicolas. Tony and Andrée are indulging in a lusty affair. One hot August day, the frighteners are put on Tony in the Blue Room of the title, when he sees Nicolas approaching the love nest hotel. Tony suspects that Nicolas has twigged the torrid affair, and runs for cover.Tragedy is the ultimate result. Brilliant crime. PK
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David Shafer: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
Operating as something of a modern-day Nineteen Eighty-Four, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot makes use of what is one of the greatest fears and conspiracy theories of the day (internet companies stealing and selling our data) to tell a story that is really an exploration of human nature rather than the “genius techno-thriller” that is has been billed as.
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Those who read the book for its thriller aspects may be disappointed by the use of an unresolved ending, but to do so would be to miss the point. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is about the journey and the transformation that takes place therein; that’s the point.
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Krasznahorkai Seiobo There Below
László Krasznahorkai, the winner of this year’s Man Booker International Prize is a boldly experimental writer of fiction, who pushes the boundaries, but tells compelling, human stories from across the centuries. Seiobo There Below gathers together a number of disparate narratives, from the Japanese goddess Seiobo who becomes human, to the Italian renaissance painter Perugino whom we meet in his workshop. A Japanese Noh actor rehearses, a heron hunts its prey. Reading Krasznahorkai, however, means immersing yourself in long rivers of winding sentences that run on through many pages. P Kehoe
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