a few months ago

Hillary Mantel won the Booker Prize for this sprawling historical novel

Five hundred years ago England was taking its first, tentative steps into modernity. At a time of religious and political conflict, the middle class was growing, literacy spreading, and the country’s government was staggering toward parliamentary democracy as the king came to depend more and more on tax revenues that only Parliament could levy. In […]

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a few months ago

Groucho Marx solves another baffling murder

In the sixth and final entry in Ron Goulart‘s series of Groucho Marx Mysteries, the irrepressible comedian and his trusty sidekick and scriptwriter, Frank Denby, once again wander into the thicket of Hollywood studio politics to investigate a murder. This time around, the murder victim in question is a musclebound would-be actor who has been […]

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a few months ago

Genetic research goes awry in this chilling science fiction novel

Ever since the mid-twentieth century geneticists and molecular biologists have been mucking around in the human genetic code. Medical researchers have been seeking ways to cure diseases or prevent them entirely. Others have been toying with techniques to heighten critical elements in our physiological or psychological makeup such as intelligence or strength. Yet other scientists […]

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a few months ago

The classic African novel about colonization

It’s difficult to understand the world’s colonial past without reading this classic African novel. In barely more than 200 pages, this moving tale dramatizes the disruption Europeans inflicted on the people of the Global South during the five-century era of colonization (the 16th through the 20th centuries). Chinua Achebe‘s (1930-2013) masterpiece, Things Fall Apart, is […]

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a few months ago

A cast of characters worthy of Shakespeare

The charm of Lois McMaster Bujold‘s Vorkosigan Saga derives not just from the enduring attraction of its central figure, the brilliant and confounding Miles Vorkosigan—”the little Admiral,” the beguiling dwarf with a taste for (very) tall women. Equally appealing is the fascinating cast of supporting actors in this long-running drama: his parents, Lord Regent Aral […]

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a few months ago

Terrorism, corruption, and Hindu nationalism in India today

Few of us who live in comfortable circumstances—or just about anyone else, in fact—in the Global North can fully appreciate the impact of poverty and official corruption that runs rampant in so many of the nations clustered in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. This is the reality the debut novelist Megha Majumdar lays bare in […]

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a few months ago

Reassessing the Science Fiction Hall of Fame

Science fiction fans speak of the Golden Age of Science Fiction, a period that, most broadly construed, ran from 1929 to 1964. SF Grand Master Robert Silverberg, acting on behalf of the Science Fiction Writers of America, included twenty-six stories published during that period in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame. It’s a motley collection […]

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a few months ago

Literary critics loved this novel.

There’s a herd instinct among literary critics, and it’s nowhere more evident than in their reception for Ling Ma‘s 2018 debut novel, Severance. Check out the reviews, and you keep coming across adjectives like “standout,” “masterful,” “compelling,” “exquisite,” and “astounding.” And the list of awards and “best of” lists on which it appears is staggeringly […]

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a few months ago

Kurt Vonnegut lives in Matt Haig’s novel

For a long time I’ve wondered where Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007) was when we needed him. Well, I may have found him. He’s lurking in a novel entitled The Humans by someone allegedly named “Matt Haig.” Of course, Haig may or may not be Kurt Vonnegut reincarnated. Certainly, the book’s genre-busting structure, the sometimes hilarious dialogue, […]

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