Book news

  • What Red Was by Rosie Price review – outstanding debut novel
    Hannah Beckerman

    A brilliantly told tale of class, abuse and familial dysfunction marks the arrival of an exciting new voice in fiction

    Occasionally a debut novel arrives that is so assured, so confident in its voice, so skilful in its plotting and characterisation that it seems like the work of a seasoned author. Rosie Price’s What Red Was introduces an exciting new voice to fiction.

    At the novel’s outset we meet Kate and Max during their first term at university, when a close platonic friendship is formed between the pair. Kate is from a single-parent family: her mother, Alison, is a recovering alcoholic, and Kate finds time spent at the small family home cloying and claustrophobic. Max, by contrast, comes from a wealthy and extended metropolitan family who congregate in his grandmother’s country home. The house is like “the setting of one of those depressingly English postwar films in which soldiers return from the battlefield to the homes of their wealthy families to drink tea and repress their trauma”.

    Continue reading...

  • Plume by Will Wiles review – struggles of a sloshed hack
    Anthony Cummins

    A journalist suffers in pursuit of a scoop in this sparky if flawed comedy

    It wasn’t clear how far you were meant to be troubled by Will Wiles’s 2012 debut, Care of Wooden Floors, about a man whose clumsiness while flat-sitting leads to the death of his host’s cleaner, an event the novel seems to brush under the carpet as just another pratfall. Wiles’s next book, The Way Inn, a slow-release sci-fi horror about a bland hotel chain popular with travelling businessmen, channelling David Lynch as well as David Brent, added to the sense of a smart and interesting writer not yet fully in control of his effects.

    That isn’t entirely dispelled by his engaging new novel, which wraps an exploration of technology, authenticity and gentrification around the story of Jack Bick, an alcoholic journalist on a lifestyle magazine in east London. While Bick’s unreliability would seem to make him first in line for looming lay-offs, he has a scoop in the works – a tell-all interview with cult writer Oliver Pierce, whose memoir of being mugged was (he now claims) a hoax. Trouble is, Bick can’t find the recording...

    Related: 'I quit my job. Drink gushed into the space I left for it': confessions of an alcoholic

    Continue reading...