Pile by the Bed reviews Linda Grant’s eighth novel – A Stranger City – exploring the consequences of Brexit-era nationalism on the rich multicultural traditions of London.
Pile by the Bed reviews Fortune by Lenny Bartulin – “an original, vibrant and entertaining historical novel”
Pile by the Bed reviews Crossings by Alex Landragin, a body hopping romp across the centuries.
Pile by the Bed reviews The Porpoise by Mark Haddon and finds it a vital retelling of classic Greek stories.
Pile by the Bed reviews and recommends the new short story collection by Chris Womersley and finds it like a cross between Raymond Carver and Stephen King.
Pile by the Bed reviews Daughter of Bad Times by Rohan Wilson – a cautionary tale that tackles climate change and corporatisation
Pile by the Bed reviews The Farm by Joanne Ramos, a day-after-tomorrow look a the gap between rich and poor.
Pile by the Bed reviews Outside Looking In by TC Boyle – an exploration of the 60s and the followers of Timothy Leary.
Pile by the Bed reviews Death is Hard Work by Khaled Khalifa, a novel that takes readers into the heart of the Syrian civil war.
Pile by the Bed reviews Ben Smith’s debut novel Doggerland, a dystopian novel with echoes of Beckett and Cormac McCarthy.
Pile by the Bed reviews The Vogue, a dark tale of revenge and retribution by Eoin McNamee
Pile by the Bed reviews the new British dystopian novel, The Wall by John Lanchester.
Pile by the Bed reviews City of Ash and Red by Korean author Hwe-Young Pyun
Pile by the Bed reviews the Golden State by Ben H Winters – a dystopia with noir crime undertones.
Pile by the Bed reviews Foe by Iain Reid
Pile by the Bed reviews Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver
Pile by the Bed reviews Cedar Valley by Holly Throsby
Pat Barker came to prominence in the 1990s with her trilogy of novels set in the First World War (Regeneration, The Eye in the Door, The Ghost Road), the third of which took out the Booker Prize. In The Silence of the Girls she goes much further back in time, to the Trojan Wars. This story, told in The Iliad, has been reinterpreted and retold many times. Barker takes a new tack, telling the story not from the perspective of the soldiers but the women who were their chattels and their prizes and their slaves. The Iliad opens with an argument between Achilles and Agamemnon over a woman. That woman is Briseis, a prize of war claimed by Achilles earlier in the campaign. Barker opens her book earlier in time, with Briseis watching as Achilles and his troops sack her city and kill her family. She and the other women are taken back to the Greek camp and distributed as prizes. Briseis, the biggest prize, is ‘awarded’ to Achilles. Through Briseis’s story, Barker explores how women are used, abused, marginalised, ignored and blamed. Early in the book, Briseis is brought as a child bride to King Mynes and ends up…
Award winning Polish author Olga Tokarczuk follows up her first novel Flights (which won the Man Booker International Prize in 2018) with something completely different. While that book concerned itself with travel, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead is located in one small village in Poland near the border with the Czech Republic. The main character and narrator, an old woman named Mrs Duszejko, seems to have lived in that location her whole life and has a deep connection to the place and its wildlife. When the book opens Duszejko and her neighbour Oddball (she gives everyone nicknames, trusting them more than their real names) discover a third neighbour Bigfoot dead in his cabin. When they arrive there are deer outside his cabin and when they find that Bigfoot died by choking on a deer bone Duszejko comes up with a theory that he was killed by the deer as revenge for his hunting of them. Duszejko herself has been waging a campaign against the local hunters (a group which involves all of the high and mighty in the town) so this fits with her own view of the practice. Bigfoot is only the first death and…
Kate Atkinson has spent a bit of time recently in the Second World War. While researching her previous book A God in Ruins she came across the story of Jack King, a bank clerk who helped in the early days of the war to entrap Nazi sympathisers in Britain. This true story became the inspiration for her latest novel, Transcription, which has the feel of a spy novel although one that is on occasion slyly winking at its audience. Transcription opens in 1981, ageing Juliet Armstrong is knocked over while crossing the road. Nesting backwards, the accident sends her memory back to 1950 when she worked at the BBC and then, remembering how she caught site of someone she worked with during the war, back further to 1940. In 1940, Juliette was recruited by MI5 to help them with a sting operation. Godfrey Toby has been cultivating local fascists and Nazi sympathisers. Juliet’s job is to sit in the flat next door and transcribe the conversations between Toby and his marks. Later she is also recruited to go undercover and infiltrate a circle of sympathisers. Neither job ends quite the way Juliet expects and she is concerned that the repercussions…