D. J. Taylor

The devastation left behind after the Blitz (Photo: Getty)

Ghosts of the past haunt Pat Barker’s bomb-strewn London

If the early Martin Amis is instantly recognisable by way of its idiosyncratic slang (‘rug-rethink’, ‘going tonto’ etc) then the…

Barbara Pym (Photo: Getty)

Barbara Pym: a woman scorned

Anyone who has ever listened to the thump of a rejected manuscript descending cheerlessly on to the mat can take…

October 1984:  Firemen inspect the shell of the Grand Hotel in Brighton, destroyed by an IRA sleeper bomb which was intended to kill Margaret Thatcher. Photo by Express/Express/Getty Images

Hilary Mantel’s fantasy about killing Thatcher is funny. Honest

Heaven knows what the millions of purchasers of the Man Booker-winning Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies will make…

(Photo: The Art Archive/Anthony Stewart / NGS)

The thrill of the (postmodern neo-Victorian) chase

Charles Palliser’s debut novel The Quincunx appeared as far back as 1989. Lavish and labyrinthine, this shifted nigh on a…

Nowhere to go but down

I am just old enough to remember the terrific fuss that was made about the first Scots literary renaissance when…

Doomed to disillusion

The Forgotten Waltz is one of those densely recapitulative novels that seek to interpret emotional crack-up from the angle of its ground-down aftermath.


Acting strange

Reviewing Lindsay Clarke’s Whitbread-winning The Chymical Wedding a small matter of 20 years ago, and noting its free and easy cast and wistful nods in the direction of the Age of Aquarius, I eventually pronounced that it was a ‘hippy novel’.

Physical and spiritual decay

The most striking thing about Piers Paul Read’s early novels was their characters’ susceptibility to physical decay.


Dogged by misfortune

Unusually for a work of fiction, Tim Pears’ new novel opens with a spread of black-and-white photographs, part of an ‘investigator’s report’ into a fatal collision said to have taken place on a Birmingham dual carriageway in the summer of 1996.

Rural flotsam

Notwithstanding’s suite of inter- linked stories draws on Louis de Bernière’s memories of the Surrey village (somewhere near Godalming, you infer) where he lived as a boy.

Transcontinental satires

Jerusalem, by Patrick Neate

Trouble at the Imperial

In the Kitchen, by Monica Ali

A master of drab grotesques

Craven House, by Patrick Hamilton

Waves of geniality

D.J. Taylor on the third volume of Jeremy Lewis's autobiography

The return of Kureishi-man

D.J. Taylor reviews Hanif Kureishi's latest novel

Capturing the decade

D. J. Taylor on the latest Granta collection

Trusty steeds and saucy varlets

Charlemagne and Roland
by Allan Massie

Too little, too late

Aldous Jones, the hero of Gerard Woodward’s heroically odd third novel, has sunk into a decline. His wife dead, his…

Things falling apart

Q: How to write imaginatively about the developing world? The old Naipaul-style methods of tragicomic ironising seem to be on…

Two stricken strikers

The most affecting moment in Gordon Burn’s new book is only marginally connected to its subjects. Borrowed from Jackie Milburn’s…

Laughing to some purpose

As a late Seventies teenager, I was exposed to two distinct brands of American humour — or ‘yomour’ as it…

More than meets the eye — or not

Not long ago I listened to a Radio Two interviewer interrogating Kate Bush about her new album. The particular track…

Fragments of village life

Listing page content here Brick Lane, Monica Ali’s first novel, sold a great many copies and was shortlisted for the…