The Grammar of God

Aviya Kushner

Reviewed by Rachael Hanel

Kushner writes of the loud, robust discussions that she, her parents, and her siblings had over Biblical grammar. They endlessly debated the meaning of words and punctuation. ‘On my first sleepover, I learned that many families did not discuss ancient grammar. Not over dinner, not at all. This struck me as a terrible shame, a missed opportunity, and it still does’ {…} in Reviews

The Life-Writer

David Constantine

Reviewed by Alison Burns

The stories in the collection are so rich and thought-provoking, so deserving of slow and careful reading, that I found myself able to imbibe only one or two at a time. Constantine’s imaginative empathy seems inexhaustible, his questions (embodied in his characters) of the first importance [Read more...] in Reviews

September Crime Round-Up

N. J. Cooper

Reviewed by N.J.Cooper

Ann Cleeves’s quiet investigations of quiet but violently disrupted lives in the north east of England offer readers a pleasure that has nothing to do with the escapism provided by either cosy village mysteries or glittering, blood-dripping melodrama. She deals honestly with the effects of deprivation, family dysfunction, and the human need for justice in the face of ill treatment. She has filled an important gap in the kinds of crime fiction that are promoted by publishers [Read more...] in Reviews

Heroic Measures

Jill Ciment

Reviewed by Shirley Whitesides

New York and its crazy property market are laid bare as the Cohens host an open house which attracts a number of quirky characters. They also view properties themselves, hoping to find a decent apartment in the area with that much-needed elevator. As the Cohens bid on a property and receive bids for their own, the pace picks up and becomes an edge-of-the-seat thriller. Will the Cohens receive a high enough bid to pay for the apartment they desperately want? Every time the phone rings the couple are on tenterhooks. Will it be a new bid or the doctor reporting Dorothy’s progress at the hospital? [Read more...] in Reviews

After the Parade

Lori Ostlund

Reviewed by Elsbeth Lindner

A mood of gothic freakishness pervades Ostlund’s debut, the engrossing story of Aaron Englund, 42, gay and living alone, at last, in San Francisco after a complicated, potentially ruinous youth. The son of a misanthropic policeman and an increasingly depressed mother, Aaron grows up timid, smart, withdrawn and socially uncertain. The curiosities that Englund introduces into his bewilderment are both shocking and compelling [Read more...] in Reviews

The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty

Vendela Vida

Reviewed by Alison Burns

The unnamed central character, referred to as ‘You’, has left her husband and travelled here from Miami. Upon arrival, even as she is checking in at her hotel, she loses her backpack containing her passport, credit cards, money, camera and computer. Farcically unhelpful police procedure leads her into accepting another woman’s backpack and ID. From here on, she gets in ever deeper, assuming new identities whenever she is about to be cornered [Read more...] in Reviews

The Past

Tessa Hadley

Reviewed by Alison Burns

Hadley is very good on this hitherto close-knit family’s assumptions, sensitivities and ‘tipping-points’, and their ways of provoking each other: ‘They knew each other so well, all too well, and yet they were all continually surprised by the forgotten difficult twists and turns of one another’s personalities, so familiar as soon as they appeared’ [Read more...] in Reviews