Childhood’s terrible toll

Book review: ‘The Kite Runner’ by Khaled Hosseini

I APPROACHED this book with prejudice. I had not expected to like it, firstly because almost anything that wins universal high praise – books or otherwise – sets up an expectation that very often has the perverse effect of turning me off the subject. Widespread lavish admiration engenders a suspicion in me, justified or not, that it is being prompted by fashion: in other words, hype makes me cynical and rebellious.

I had not read reviews of this novel beyond headlines, partly for this reason. Continue reading


Bleak written all over it: a family feud saga from a dark literary heritage

Book review: ‘The Brothers’ by Asko Sahlberg

LIKE a neat, impressionistic Chekhov story or an arty French film – in which single sounds and close-ups of movements are potent with meaning – ‘The Brothers’ gives an episodic insight into a brief but significant span of time in enclosed world.

This is 19th-century Finland, a beautiful, melancholy snow- and alcohol-filled setting, but the intense love-loathing rivalry between brothers Henrik and Erik, universally readily identifiable, could be transferred to almost any place and time.

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Slapstick, sadness and a blue rinse in India

Book review: Staying on by Paul Scott

COMEDY and tragedy have always been the closest of relations, and this novel epitomises their kinship. Full of black humour, it is one of the saddest novels – if not the saddest – I have ever read. Continue reading


Plots that were never there in the first place

SHE had written her first novel but it had not been published. Continue reading