Inside a barrel in the bottom of a boat, with a canteen of water wedged between his legs and a packet of poison concealed in his pocket, Jacob Rappaport felt a knot tightening in his stomach — not because he was about to do something dangerous, but because he was about to do something wrong.” It is a terrific first line, and as it progresses, Dara Horn’s new novel gets more gripping — both as a straightforward thriller and as a novel of ideas.
Thanks to Benjamin Moser’s recent biography (reviewed in the JC of September 4), Clarice Lispector is finally on the English-speaking map. The distinguished translator Gregory Rabassa’s new version of her fourth novel, The Apple in the Dark, gives us the opportunity to assess the work of a woman acclaimed as one of the most important Brazilian novelists of the 20th century.
As he contemplated the arrival of 1973, Henry Kissinger could be forgiven for thinking of himself as the Master of the Universe. Although still only President Richard Nixon’s national security adviser, not yet Secretary of State, he was the unquestioned architect and executor of American foreign policy.
For almost half a century, from 1957 to 1902, the novels of Muriel Spark lit up the lives of those of us who loved her work. Combining, like Stravinsky and Picasso, the profoundly serious and the exquisitely light, instant accessibility and constant formal inventiveness, she was indeed a rare bird in the sky of late-20th century culture.
In this interesting collection of past writings, Avi Shlaim emotionally takes the side of the Palestinians, yet intellectually and rationally views the conflict as a clash between two national movements. While this balance is maintained in his earlier work, more recent writings are coloured by selective outrage.
He is an expatriate American who sports a beard and glasses and who enjoys writing humorously on serious subjects — but he is not Bill Bryson.
Rick Gekoski is a rare-books dealer and former academic who has written in previous books about both his work and his strange passion for Coventry City football club. But he does look like Bryson and some reviewers reckon he writes like him too. The Tatler said of him: “think Bill Bryson, just on books”.
Charles Saatchi does not give interviews. He is also not appearing in this autumn’s BBC2 reality show in which he helps to discover new British art talent, X-Factor style. So what does this book of his answers to questions from critics and others reveal of this chronically reclusive man?
Interestingly, he is more open about his earlier advertising career than about his role as an art collector.
Next time you wander into a bookshop or browse on Amazon, check out the name Kellerman. At any given point there will usually be a Kellerman novel out, probably hovering somewhere high in the bestseller lists.
This is not surprising — Faye Kellerman is a prolific crime writer, as is her husband Jonathan… and their son Jesse has carved his own career as a novelist and playwright. Oh, and then there is 17-year-old Aliza, whose first book, co-written with her mother, is selling briskly too.