Mending the Mind

Oliver Kamm

Reviewed by N. J. Cooper

His sharing of the work of writers who have given him comfort with their accounts of symptoms that matched his own provides many pleasures, both of recognition and enlightenment. But it is in his eloquently clear accounts of his own suffering and recovery that the book becomes most valuable. As he found, it is almost impossible to read when in the grip of severe depression and so I imagine that Mending the Mind will be of most practical use to the friends and relations of sufferers [Read more...] in Reviews

Trigger Warning: My Lesbian Feminist Life

Sheila Jeffreys

Reviewed by Zoë Fairbairns

Sheila doesn’t want you to look away. Back in the early 1970s, she made herself unpopular in some leftist circles by noting that what was referred to as sexual freedom just meant ‘turning women into more enthusiastic sexual partners for men’. In 1978, she and other attendees at a national Women’s Liberation conference organized a pornography exhibition to draw attention to porn as a form of violence against women [Read more...] in Reviews

Afterlife

Julia Alvarez

* A 2020 Notable Book

Reviewed by Elsbeth Lindner

Antonia’s afterlife is a journey full of questions and quandaries, good choices and bad, dilemmas of the moral and personal kind which connect at multiple levels with America’s essential issues of the moment. For what, and whom, are citizens, employers, law-enforcement officers and family members responsible? How far should any one person go, to help another, related or not? Alvarez juggles all this with humor and restraint, drawing forth a portrait of a female sensibility addressing some of the most fundamental questions of social engagement [Read more...] in Reviews

Frying Plantain

Zalika Reid-Benta

* A 2020 Notable Book

Reviewed by Alison Burns

Kara is shaping up to be a most appealing character: strong, observant, conflicted, lonely. Her mother and grandmother (‘Nana’) don’t get on, partly perhaps because Eloise herself got pregnant at 17 – a fate Eloise is determined to spare her daughter. Nana spends her time when she’s not at church obsessively cooking and vacuuming; when her obstinate husband (Kara’s grandfather) turns up, she ignores him and refuses to feed him. Everybody else shouts and screams, while food is forced upon them [Read more...] in Reviews

Man of My Time

Dalia Sofer

* A 2020 Notable Book

Reviewed by Elsbeth Lindner

The gift of Hamid’s father’s ashes in a peppermint tin, which the son must carry around in his pocket – Hamid has been tasked with taking them back to Iran for burial – is but one of the bitter notes of humour and lingering symbols to be found in this melancholy but fully-fleshed portrait of inescapable taint. Hamid’s account of becoming the man he is offers no exculpation. Instead his ashy vision wraps all the characters in a cloak of greater or lesser complicity, misfortune and corruption [Read more...] in Reviews

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line

Deepa Anappara

* A 2020 Notable Book

Reviewed by Rachel Hore

As a one-time journalist in Delhi, Deepa Anappara knows of what she writes, and her prose, richly punctuated by local idiom, is exceptionally vivid. She evokes the variety, individuality and vitality of the characters in Jai’s community with skill and humour, whilst underlining the appalling conditions in which they live. There’s little sanitation and they must join long queues for toilets or simply use the rubbish dump or the street [Read more...] in Reviews

Not at Home

Doris Langley Moore

* A 2020 Notable Book

Reviewed by Elizabeth Hilliard Selka

Doris Langley Moore found time to write six novels between 1932 and 1959, of which Not At Home was published in 1948 and is now reissued alongside her others by Dean Street Press with an introduction by Sir Roy Strong…The story introduces Elinor MacFarren, a botanical artist living alone in a large London house full of beautiful things who, to defray costs, takes a lodger. To summarize the plot briefly, this is a disaster [Read more...] in Reviews