Trio by William Boyd review – superbly wry and wise Set on a Brighton film set in 1968, this showbiz story is intricate and funny – but should William Boyd be taking more risks?

Written for The Guardian   Trio is William Boyd’s 16th novel – and that’s before we get on to the dozen or so screenplays for film and television. How does someone produce so much work? I don’t know the man’s personal circumstances, but he must have angel armies who ring his desk and fend off…

Obituary: Philip Roth was one of America’s greatest novelists – his real subject was not Jewishness, or New Jersey, but the human condition

OBITUARY WRITTEN FOR THE ECONOMIST:   IF THERE is one detail of Philip Roth’s biography that is worth knowing, it is not that he was Jewish or that he had no children or that he was born in New Jersey—it is that he preferred to write standing up at a lectern. There are pages of…

Beatlebone by Kevin Barry review – a darkly wry trip to Beatle Island

Written for The Guardian:   My favourite interview with John Lennon was by “whispering” Bob Harris in 1975. Throughout, Harris is the opposite of incisive, but his warm, respectful, almost innocent presence seems to relax Lennon into being unusually open and collusive; sure, the acerbic wit and that compulsive self-awareness are there as always, but in the last few…

Before, During, After review by Richard Bausch – precisely piloted psychology

For The Guardian: This is an accomplished and, at times, harrowing novel full of the kind of psychological power and exactitude that first-rate fiction does so well. I found myself wincing half the time, whispering, wishing, willing the characters to take other courses. For those unfamiliar with Richard Bausch, he has long been celebrated in America as a practised…

Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever? review – Dave Eggers’s accomplished hostage drama

For The Guardian A doubting Thomas kidnaps and interrogates significant people in his life in Dave Eggers’s ambitious, dialogue-only novel Dave Eggers is a one-man essay in the value and virtue of a life in writing in the 21st century. This is his third published novel in three years. And yet his work never drops below…

The Circle by Dave Eggers – review

Written for The Guardian:   Could this be the most prescient satirical commentary on the early internet age yet? In a recent essay published in these pages, Jonathan Franzen inveighed against what he sees as the glibness and superficiality of the new online culture. “With technoconsumerism,” he wrote, “a humanist rhetoric of ’empowerment’ and ‘creativity’ and ‘freedom’ and…