Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Wonder boy - and author

    Howard McNamee, the Glaswegian protagonist of The Truth About These Strange Times by Adam Foulds (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £12.99), is 28, overweight and a towel collector in a gym. Until his mother’s recent death, he lived with her and now returns home each night to talk to her, addressing the clothes hanging in her wardrobe.

    After a kind old lady called Mrs Dawson collapses at his gym, Howard visits her in hospital, telling the stories he is afraid to tell his mother, even via the wardrobe. When Mrs Dawson dies, too, he appears more affected than her own son, Les. But Les takes Howard under his wing, thrusting him into a distinctly unusual family.

    Mrs Dawson’s grandson Saul is 10, and the sole focus of his father’s attention as he prepares the boy for the World Memory Championships. Saul, who can recite pi to a thousand decimal places, and has word-perfect recall for every conversation, “worked without anyone’s pity, or only Howard’s…”

    Howard exposes Saul to the world’s pleasures, much to Les’s disapproval. As the competition nears and Saul is visibly affected by the pressure, Howard takes the boy away from his father’s impossible expectations.

    Foulds, recently named as Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year, has a fine turn of phrase, and the relationship between Howard and Saul is depicted without sentimentality (though Saul does sometimes come across as a Central Casting “gifted child”).

    Foulds’s own gifts may be gauged from the fact that he now has a second, lauded offering, The Broken Word (Cape, £9), a 60-page narrative poem about random brutality and systematic violence in 1950s colonial Kenya.

The Jewish Chronicle

Review: Reunion

Amanda Hopkinson

Friday, November 25, 2016

Review: Reunion
Books

A taste for forbidden flavours

Michael Kaminer

Thursday, November 24, 2016

A taste for forbidden flavours
The Jewish Chronicle

Jodi Picoult competition entry form

Keren David

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Jodi Picoult competition entry form
The Jewish Chronicle

Review: Freud: In His Time and Ours

Stephen Frosh

Friday, November 25, 2016

Review: Freud: In His Time and Ours
Books

Jodi Picoult - The book that changed me

Keren David

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Jodi Picoult - The book that changed me
Books

Review: Margaret Thatcher and the Middle East b...

Robert Philpot

Friday, November 11, 2016

Review: Margaret Thatcher and the Middle East b...
Books

Can you solve these knotty problems?

Daniel Sugarman

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Can you solve these knotty problems?
Books

Getting ahead is a slice of pie

Suzanne Levy

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Getting ahead is a slice of pie
The Jewish Chronicle

Review: A Horse Walks Into A Bar

Stoddard Martin

Friday, November 11, 2016

Review: A Horse Walks Into A Bar