Go West: An Interview with Jonathan Evison

Rooted in the history and traditions of the Pacific Northwest, Jonathan Evison’s West of Here rethinks the epic American novel for the 21st century. Dan Coxon talks to the author about the difficulties of selling his American vision overseas. Portrait by Keith Brofsky For a New York Times bestselling author, Jonathan Evison has remained remarkably […]

Mapping the Wilderness: An Interview with Alexi Zentner

Set in the harsh forests of the Canadian wilderness, Alexi Zentner’s debut novel, Touch, draws upon mythology as well as literary convention. Dan Coxon finds that its author is rooted in the power of traditional storytelling. Portrait by Laurie Willick. For a debut novel, Alexi Zentner’s Touch has already earned a startling number of accolades, […]

The Colour of Money: An Interview with Peter Mountford

Set against the backdrop of South America’s poorest economy, Peter Mountford’s first novel is a smart read on the human side of economic, political and ethical dramas. For the author it was also a long road to publication, as Dan Coxon learns. Portrait by Jennifer Mountford In a literary landscape dominated by celebrity memoirs and […]

No Country for Young Men: An Interview with Urban Waite

Sidestepping the industry circus and downplaying his own achievements, Urban Waite isn’t your typical thriller writer, and his debut, The Terror of Living, isn’t your typical crime novel, as Dan Coxon finds out. Portrait by Sean Hunter Crossing into similar territory to Cormac McCarthy’s No Country For Old Men, The Terror of Living offers more […]

Jessica Anthony – The Convalescent

Dan Coxon You have to give Jessica Anthony credit: in this current climate of MFA-educated clones it’s unusual to come across a truly unique narrator. We’ve all read plenty of Holden Caulfield rip-offs, or various takes on the Kerouac drifter-philosopher, the William Burroughs educated-junky, or the Paul Bowles traveller-adventurer. There haven’t been too many Hungarian […]

Patrick McGrath – Trauma

Dan Coxon There’s something to be said for the contemporary novelist having a background in psychology. While the mass-market thrillers and romance novels that pack the supermarket shelves are happy to remain plot-driven page-turners, the modern literary novel prides itself on its ability to unravel the thoughts and emotions of its characters rather than relying […]

Chuck Palahniuk – Snuff

Dan Coxon Over the last few years Chuck Palahniuk has revelled in the sordid, the grotesque, and the downright dirty like a particularly literate pig in shit, and for many readers his decision to set a novel within the pornography industry must have seemed like a marriage made in Heaven, or at least the more […]

Daniel Wallace – Mr. Sebastian And The Negro Magician

…Given his subject matter it’s natural that Daniel Wallace should attempt some authorly tricks, and his multiple points of view allow him to play with the concepts of truth and illusion. By the end you’ll be uncertain whether Mr. Sebastian was the devil, whether he was actually several different people – or even if he existed at all…

On Chesil Beach – Ian McEwan

…It’s hard to imagine any debut writer having a story this short published as a stand-alone novel, yet because McEwan is one of the literary world’s big earners the public are expected to pay more than twice as much for his work…

Jim Crace – The Pesthouse

“…While Jonathan Raban’s Surveillance looked at the near future, however, and predicted where we might end up if the current political climate continues, Jim Crace takes us several centuries further into this brave new world. Except it’s not so brave, and not even so new. In fact, it’s positively medieval….”

Anne Michaels & Jeremy Padewsa – Fugitive Pieces

“…Transferring literary bestsellers to the big screen is never an easy business. Some adaptations get it right, and some get it wrong. Luckily Jeremy Padewsa’s Fugitive Pieces falls into the first camp…”

Jonathan Raban – Surveillance

“…When even Green Day can achieve international success with a Bush-whacking album, then you can be sure that something’s going on in the public consciousness. Jonathan Raban takes a slightly different approach to the subject with his new novel Surveillance…”

Neil Smith – Bang Crunch

“… It has become something of a self-fulfilling prophecy that the publishing industry can’t sell debut short story collections… Because the major publishing houses don’t publish much short fiction – and rarely back it with a marketing campaign when they do – the public quite rightly tends to assume that these short story collections aren’t worth reading. If they were then they’d be making more of a fuss of them, right?…”

Ross Macdonald – The Barbarous Coast

“…Punctuated by a sharp, dark wit, and twisting subtly through an untold number of well-plotted revelations, this novel shows why Macdonald was considered the natural successor to the likes of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. It also makes for a damned good read…”

Martin Amis – House Of Meetings

“…Any new Martin Amis book always comes with plenty of baggage, and House Of Meetings is no exception. As his first full-length fiction since 2003’s Yellow Dog, it comes complete with high expectations and the ugly face of his previous achievements leering over its shoulder. You can almost hear the critics sharpening their knives even before it hits the shelves…”

Joseph M Marshal III – Hundred in the Hand

“…For decades the story of the American West has been told from the point of view of the white settlers, the ‘cowboys’ in all those childhood games of Cowboys and Indians. This novel sets out to redress that balance: it’s set in the American West, but it’s told from the point of view of the Lakota people, and is written by a surviving Lakota member…”

Arthur Nersesian – The Swing Voter of Staten Island

“…Arthur Nersesian’s The Fuck-Up, in addition to having one of the best slacker-lit titles ever to have been put down on paper, has garnered something of a cult following since its publication in 1997, and rightly so… In comparison, The Swing Voter Of Staten Island is a big disappointment…”

Russell Hoban – My Tango With Barbara Strozzi

“…Centre stage is given to a depiction of Barbara Strozzi herself, the seventeenth century Venetian singer and composer of the book’s title, but surrounding her is the paraphernalia of Hoban’s story. There are glass eyes, a baseball bat, the HMS Victory, an astrological constellation and a 24-hour pizza restaurant. And, of course, the basic steps to learn the tango…”

Steve Dupont – Therein Lies The Problem

“… the plot sounds like a collaboration between George Orwell and Roald Dahl, but the large cast of curious characters gives the novel a tone that’s more in keeping with Kurt Vonnegut or Philip K Dick. They sometimes tread a fine line between caricature and outright fantasy, but once you buy into the slightly strange world that Dupont has crafted he takes you on a rollercoaster ride quite unlike anything else in modern fiction… “

Austin Grossman: Soon I Will Be Invincible

“… While there are surface similarities between Soon I Will Be Invincible and that TV show, however, the tone of the novel quickly shifts towards the more fantastical end of the spectrum. Grossman makes no attempt to explain the world that he describes – a world where superheroes, and supervillians, exist as a widely accepted everyday reality – but instead he takes this death-defying, spandex-wearing ball and runs with it… “

Douglas Coupland: The Gum Thief

“…Relating the relatively humdrum tale of two ‘associates’ in a Staples stationary superstore, it often sounds like a soap opera rather than the latest offering from one of contemporary literature’s most intriguing voices. The Gum Thief’s relatively mundane surface hides an intriguing study of the epistolary form – and a commentary on the nature of the novel itself. “

William Trevor: Cheating At Canasta

“…It’s no hollow claim to compare his work with Joyce’s Dubliners, and in Cheating At Canasta he’s proved once again that there are few who can come close to him in terms of subtle nuances of feeling and understated epiphanies. “

Rory MacLean – Magic Bus: An Interview

Magic Bus: On the Hippie Trail from Istanbul to India is Rory MacLean’s retracing of the Hippie Trail that marked the beginning of the modern travel industry in the Sixties and Seventies, a six thousand mile trek that now leads through war zones and some of the world’s most chaotic cities.

Matt Ruff: Bad Monkeys

“…the ending almost certainly won’t be what you expect, and it will either convince you that Bad Monkeys is a wonderful tour-de-force, or make you regret having spent so many hours reading it…