Sebastian Smee

Whatever next?

9 April 2011 12:00 am

Philip Hensher’s King of the Badgers is set in Hanmouth, a small English coastal town described so thickly that it is established from the outset as effectively a character in itself.

Cross-cultural exchanges

12 February 2011 12:00 am

The 18 stories, each around a dozen pages long, in E.C. Osondu’s Voice of America seem to have poured out of him like water. They have a fluency, an evenness of tone and texture, that creates an illusion of transparency and simplicity.

A fragile beauty

16 October 2010 12:00 am

Colm Tóibín’s short stories hinge on lonely figures seeking what one of his narrator’s describes as ‘the chance… to associate with beauty’.


Shady people in the sun

3 March 2010 12:00 am

The characters in Rose Tremain’s deft new novel are almost all remarkably unpleasant.

Home is where the heart is

6 May 2009 12:00 am

Brooklyn, by Colm Tóibín


The invisible man

4 March 2009 12:00 am

Strangers, by Anita Brookner

Conflicts of interest?

29 December 2008 12:00 am

Land of Marvels, by Barry Unsworth

Going the distance

17 September 2008 12:00 am

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, by Haruki Murakami

Muddying the waters

20 August 2008 12:00 am

Dreams of Rivers and Seas by Tim Parks

A mask that eats the face

1 April 2008 12:00 am

Sebastien Smee on Patrick French's biography of V.S. Naipaul


The pleasure of his company

3 October 2007 1:33 pm

Sebastian Smee on James Salter

Once more with less feeling

5 September 2007 1:08 pm

Diary of a Bad Year
by J. M. Coetzee

Too much information

12 April 2007 8:39 am

In managing too carefully the revelation of truth, parents often betray it. Graham Swift’s new novel is narrated by a…

Formal feeling comes good

17 January 2007 8:56 pm

Contemporary Australian fiction, like Australian film, is known more for its exuberance and antic energy than its reticence and restraint.…

When all the clocks have stopped

9 November 2006 8:45 am

A great many unspeakable things happen in the course of Cormac McCarthy’s brilliant, distressing new novel. But the worst, the…

One kiss too many

3 August 2006 9:38 am

Something is eating away at Father David Anderton, the narrator of Be Near Me, a novel as beautiful and perfectly…

The art of the matter

31 May 2006 11:10 am

Listing page content here Peter Carey’s ropy, visceral prose casts a powerful spell. It has a swarming, improvised quality which…


Missing the middle path

10 May 2006 6:17 pm

Listing page content here Reading David Mitchell’s fourth novel, which is told through the eyes of a 13-year-old boy, reminded…

The fine art of appreciation

4 March 2006 12:00 am

John Updike is, among one or two other things, a model art critic. Observant, sympathetic and knowledgeable, he also writes…

Method acting with a vengeance

21 August 2004 12:00 am

Two of a good thing is usually better than one — unless, of course, the good thing in question is…

The Man of Feeling

15 May 2004 12:00 am

Can a writer be guilty of an excess of sympathy for his characters? Sympathy, we are forever being reminded (Tolstoy…

His cup runneth over

17 April 2004 12:00 am

Nick, the central character in Alan Hollinghurst’s wonderful new novel, is a young, alert middle-class boy with precociously refined aesthetic…

The portrait of a gentleman

13 March 2004 12:00 am

Colm T

Both deep and dazzling

17 January 2004 12:00 am

Rivalled only by the Rabbit novels, John Updike’s early stories — the 100 or so pieces of short fiction he…

A great painter’s likeness perfectly caught

18 October 2003 12:00 am

Robert Hughes has suffered no shortage of appalling things over the past five years. He has experienced deep depression and…