Knut Hamsun’s Hunger

Reading Knut Hamsun’s 1890 novel Hunger in the present day, it’s very difficult to see what was so original about it, but this is because we take for granted the fiction of Kafka, Camus, Mann and Joyce – all of […]

Zadie Smith’s Swing Time

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of seeing Zadie Smith in person, reading from and discussing her latest novel, Swing Time, before a live audience in Montreal’s Rialto theatre. She was articulate and funny, passionate and spontaneous, but both […]

Rex Murphy’s Canada And Other Matters Of Opinion

The Internet has inundated us with critics and commentators, most of them forgettable when they aren’t outright noxious. How many men or women can express an opinion worth hearing on public policy or sports, pop culture or global finance – […]

Robert Graves’ Good-Bye To All That

By 1929, when Robert Graves took four months out of his life to compose his memoirs of his experiences in the First World War, he had every reason to be angry with England. The country had sent him – and […]

Gertrude Stein’s The Autobiography Of Alice B. Toklas

Gertrude Stein is a genius. She tells us so herself, almost from the opening page: “I may say that only three times in my life have I met a genius and each time a bell within me rang and I […]

John le Carré’s The Spy Who Came In From The Cold

The Spy Who Came In From The Cold was John le Carré’s third novel and his first major success, and even now, more than a half-century after its publication and the Cold War era it described, its powers of suspense […]

William Giraldi’s The Hero’s Body

Tucked away in a nondescript building, in an industrial park in East Rutherford, New Jersey, there is a gym famous the world over for transforming fledgling high school and college athletes into muscled monsters: hard-hitting batters or high-flying basketball players, […]

Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Emperor Of All Maladies

How is this for a resume? Siddhartha Mukherjee has degrees from Oxford, Stanford and Harvard; won a Rhodes scholarship; teaches and does research at Columbia University; and won a Pulitzer Prize for his 2010 “biography” of cancer, The Emperor Of […]

Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman

Flann O’Brien was one of the pen names of Brian O’Nolan, an Irish civil servant whose job forbid him from publishing. It was a general rule, not in any way intended to single our poor Brian, but if his paymasters […]

Walter Jackson Bate’s Coleridge

Of all the Romantic poets, perhaps only the prophet William Blake achieved as much in a discipline outside of poetry as Samuel Taylor Coleridge, poet, critic, and amateur theologian, and, like Blake, Coleridge found himself overshadowed in his own lifetime […]