Book news

  • Find Me by André Aciman review – a beautiful conclusion for Elio and Oliver
    Hannah Beckerman

    The author of Call Me By Your Name returns to his beloved characters in a deeply romantic, philosophical sequel

    André Aciman’s 2007 breakthrough novel, Call Me By Your Name – later made into an award-winning film directed by Luca Guadagnino – told the story of a blossoming romance between 17-year-old Elio and 24-year-old Oliver. Exploring themes of passion, obsession and time, the book has since acquired the status of a modern gay classic.

    In Find Me, Aciman returns to the lives of Elio and Oliver some 20 years later, albeit via a circuitous route: we have to wait until almost halfway through the novel for Elio’s first appearance, and are not reacquainted with Oliver until the penultimate section. But what Aciman offers us in the meantime is an intense and rewarding prelude.

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  • The Secret Commonweath by Philip Pullman review – a work of extraordinary depth
    Alex Preston

    Pullman nods to the refugee crisis and the state of democracy in his masterly second tale in the Book of Dust series

    In the second instalment of his Book of Dust trilogy, The Secret Commonwealth, Philip Pullman makes what appears to be a passing reference to Peter Frankopan’s revisionist history of the world, The Silk Roads. Our hero, Lyra Silvertongue, is now 20, a student at the Oxford of Pullman’s parallel world. She is studying at St Sophia’s, where, in an end-of-term tutorial, her supervisor tells her that, to gain more than a superficial grasp of Byzantine politics, she should “make sure to do some reading… Frankopan’s good”. So we know that, even if electricity hasn’t yet reached Lyra’s world, The Silk Roads has.

    A deeper reading of The Secret Commonwealth reveals a more profound relationship between the two books. Lyra’s adventures take place in a world in which central Asia and the silk routes are once again at the heart of world affairs. A “rose panic” has swept across the region, sparking a politico-economic crisis in Anatolia and Tajikistan. Fundamentalist “men from the mountains” are invading the extensive and beautiful rose gardens, driving farmers from their homes and creating a wave of refugees flooding into Europe. The roses are apparently wanted by multinational pharmaceutical companies, but also by the Magisterium – the malevolent puritanical church.

    Related: Philip Pullman: ‘Boris Johnson doesn’t mind who he hurts. He doesn’t mind if he destroys the truth or not’

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