Random Thoughts: new faces of fiction for 2018 in the Observer New Review

Image copied from the Observer website

I’m not supposed to be buying books again this year. I’ve already bought three. We’re not quite halfway through January. The bodings are heading in the wrong direction.

Today, the Observer newspaper has published its list of debut novelists to look out for. I’m excited by a few of them. Continue reading


The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly


Read 28/08/2017-29/08/2017

Rating: 4 stars

Weezelle of Words and Leaves posted about her holiday reading recently. One of the books she consumed was The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly. I’ve picked this book up many times over the last couple of years, drawn by its elegant cover design. I’ve also always put it back down again, partly because it’s the cover that has drawn me more than what’s on the pages behind the cover, and partly because I’ve been trying to rein myself in on the book buying front.

On my most recent visit to the library, Hwang Sun-Mi’s best seller caught my eye. It’s such a slim book, I thought it would make a nice break from all the US literature I’ve been reading recently. So I brought it home. Continue reading



Read 06/05/2017-11/05/2017

Rating: 4 stars

Pachinko was on the list for The Reader’s Room March Madness Challenge. I ordered it from the library, but lots of people wanted to read it, and when it eventually arrived it was too late for the challenge. I’d read enough about it to still want to read it, though. Continue reading

The Investigation


Read 31/07/2016-05/08/2016

Rating: 4 stars

Read for The Reader’s Room Olympic Challenge

On the face of it, The Investigation is a murder mystery set in a Japanese prison during the Second World War. It’s more than that, though. It’s a reflection on literature’s power to imprison, to set free, and to sustain. It’s an examination of identity, how individuals define themselves in relation to others and to notions of nationality and culture. It’s a history lesson of sorts about Japanese treatment of Koreans. It’s a beautifully crafted work, full of poetry and grace. The use of literature to underpin the story is compelling. If I have any criticism it’s that sometimes the writing becomes stilted, when the author stops talking about the personal and starts trying to make a point about the wider context of the characters’ lives, and that the resolution to the murder mystery was slightly ridiculous. Continue reading