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Book Reviews

Mirza Waheed: an innate poetic sensibility but he also knows how to control a thriller.

The Book of Gold Leaves by Mirza Waheed

Mirza Waheed won the Guardian's First Book award for his debut novel, The Collaborator. His second novel is centred on the love affair between a young Shia woman and her Sunni lover as the Kashmir conflict rages in the early 1990s.

  • Selected Poems, Lorca, Pessoa

    The work of celebrated European poets can be found in translation in Penguin Modern Classics. Selected Poems of Spanish poet Federico García Lorca and the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa are both available in paperback.

  • Edgy and original, Petterson always makes you wonder where he will lead you with his darkly dysfunctional tales.

    I Refuse Per Petterson

    Per Petterson's novel Out Stealing Horses won the 2007 IMPAC Dublin Award, one of the richest literary prizes in the world. Out Stealing Horses explored a tormented soul and the new novel, I Refuse, deals with similar trouble at the (Norwegian) mill.

  • Seamus Heaney: A profound, earthed sensibility

    New Selected Poems Seamus Heaney

    Seamus Heaney's bond with lovers of poetry had particular qualities of intimacy and strength that had no real precedent on the Irish scene.Two new selections gather the essential poems.

  • Vivid Faces - The Revolutionary Generation in Ireland, 1890-1923

    Vivid Faces RF Foster

    Roy Foster's new book looks at the key figures - and their associates - who led the struggle for Irish nationhood and identity a century ago.

  • The Pulitzer-Prize winning Richard Ford: one of the most daring and exhilarating fiction-writers working in English today.

    Let Me Be Frank With You - Richard Ford

    Richard Ford's second Frank Bascombe novel, Independence Day, won the Pulitzer Prize and PEN/Faulkner award. Four new stories feature the volubly reflective Frank once again, now 68, and retired from the real estate business.

  • The motives and self-justifications of soldiers, the bargains they make with themselves and with each other are brilliantly explored.

    A Meal in Winter by Hubert Mingarelli

    This reader felt he was out there, knee-deep in the Polish snow, with the three German soldiers and their prisoner, in this supremely tactile novel of the Second World War, translated from the French.

  • Gripping account of the coup mounted against President Salvador Allende's regime in Chile

    Story of a Death Foretold Oscar Guardiola-Rivera

    Oscar Guardiola-Rivera's account brilliantly conveys the sinister atmosphere prior to the ousting of Salvador Allende's progressive social government in Chile on September 11 1973, during which the communist leader took his own life.

  • The Stairwell: its spirit is somehow vulnerable

    The Stairwell by Michael Longley

    The Stairwell celebrates the lives of family and friends - and life itself - but the book is also aware of last things. Its second section, dedicated to the poet's late brother Peter, has particular poignancy.

  • Nora Webster: an austere majesty which bears echoes of James Joyce's short story, The Dead.

    Nora Webster by Colm Tóibín

    Nora Webster is a masterful, often moving novel, which explores with striking emotional authority the life of a recently bereaved woman in 1960s small-town Ireland.

  • Intimate domestic settings - a young boy, a grandmother, a sister, mother, an absent or deceased father - in stories that veer between the childhood and adulthood of their young male protagonists.

    The Scatter Here is Too Great by Bilal Tanweer

    This daring debut novel from Tanweer must be commended for its sensitive yet knowing depiction of recent, troubled times in urban Pakistan.

  • Outline is the mesmeric seventh novel from Rachel Cusk. Like Stendhal, the author can move seamlessly through many scenarios yet hold the reader's attention without fail.

    Outline by Rachel Cusk

    Rachel Cusk's magically tremulous narrative moves seamlessly along a carousel of different people's stories, told during a summer writing course in Athens. It may be the best novel you could read this year.

  • A compelling account of the struggle for independence by the noted historian Charles Townshend

    The Republic by Charles Townshend

    Townsend's careful, appealing study - recently published in paperback - may well be the definitive account of the struggle for Irish Independence.

  • Goodbye to All That: the First World War recalled by the great stylist  and truth-teller Robert Graves.

    Good-Bye to All That by Robert Graves

    "There was no patriotism in the trenches " wrote the late Robert Graves in Good-Bye to All That, his 1929 autobiography, which included a vivid account of his First World War experiences. This new edition restores the work to its original version.

  • Scholarly yet loving: John Eliot Gardiner's monumental portrait of JS Bach

    Music in the Castle of Heaven John Eliot Gardiner

    Conductor John Eliot Gardiner has earned a global reputation as perhaps the greatest interpreter of the music of Johnann Sebastian Bach in modern times.This 630-page work is a loving hommage to the music and the man.