Michel Houellebecq’s Atomised

It is my growing conviction that Michel Houellebecq is the most important living novelist, though it isn’t exactly easy to explain why. On a sentence-by-sentence basis, there are at least a dozen writers alive today who are his betters, and […]

George Orwell’s Burmese Days

It is no exaggeration to say that, without his experience as an imperial police officer in Burma, the man the world now knows as George Orwell, the 20th century’s greatest opponent of totalitarianism, would have remained Eric Arthur Blair, a […]

Graham Greene’s The Power And The Glory

The Power And The Glory might be the quintessential Graham Greene novel, combining the pacing and plot of a thriller – in this case, a manhunt across Mexico – with weightier themes of faith, guilt and redemption. Our protagonist is […]

Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations

I was perhaps too young to appreciate the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius when it was gifted to me as a young boy, and certainly too young to put his precepts into practice, but at the dawn of a new year […]

Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart

Fittingly, the final book I read in 2017 belongs to a growing category: novels I had wrongly prejudged. Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart is the post-colonial novel, you see, and so it has attracted an endless string of commentary from “post-colonial theorists” and cultural […]

Christopher Lasch’s The Revolt Of The Elites

The title of historian and social critic Christopher Lasch’s final book, The Revolt Of The Elites, published shortly after his death in 1994, places it in conversation with an earlier work of political philosophy, José Ortega y Gasset’s The Revolt Of […]

Jennifer Egan’s Manhattan Beach

About midway through Jennifer Egan’s fifth and latest novel, Manhattan Beach, I had an overwhelming urge to flip ahead to the Acknowledgements section – a first for me, in my entire life as a reader. This is a historical novel, […]

Tom Wolfe’s Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing The Flak Catchers

Of the many memorable moments afforded to us by the most recent American presidential election, one in particular stood out to me – stands out to me still – both for its own sake and because I sincerely belief it […]

Richard Yates’ A Good School

It’s very likely that, absent the influence of Hollywood and the star power of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, Richard Yates would have been lost to my generation of readers. When they turned his debut novel, Revolutionary Road, into a […]

Georges Simenon’s Maigret And The Ghost

In the English-speaking world, Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes holds eternal dominion as literature’s foremost sleuth. Among French speakers, however, the fictional Jules Maigret, commissaire of the Paris Brigade Criminelle, holds pride of place. Maigret was the creation of Georges […]