In a riveting scene in his novel The Tin Drum, Günter Grass depicts the infamous Reichskristallnacht pogrom of November 1938 as it was witnessed in Danzig by the central character, Oskar Matzerath, a hunchbacked, teenage dwarf. This is no conventional, realist narrative. Writing retrospectively in a post-war lunatic asylum, Oskar recalls the horror from a strange, oblique angle.
Judith Claire Mitchell's second novel takes the form of a 370-page suicide note. Make that a triple suicide note. It's also one of the sharpest, tartest, flat-out funniest books you're likely to read any time soon.
This is an astonishing book. Original, dark and quite unlike anything else I have read. And yet it speaks to the mood of our times. It is a novel about violence and barbarism, the fragility of civilisation and a world of people on the move, migrants desperate for a better life.
There is something passionate about the people of Israel. Born into a seemingly eternal conflict, they live faster and more sensuously than other people, as though they know that it could all end at any moment.
Adam Thirlwell has had a charmed life as a writer. He has written novels (Politics, The Escape and the "new kind of story" Kapow!). His Miss Herbert (2007) is one of the best books of literary criticism written in the past 30 years. He was chosen as one of Granta's "Best of Young British Novelists" both in 2003 and in 2013.