Obama's A Promised Land lauded as 'disarmingly candid' by critics in first week
23rd November 2020
Last week's biggest titles conceded to Barack Obama's A Promised Land (Viking) as it was elected an Observer Book of the Week and received a near perfect rating across the board
A Promised Land
"Obama writes with verve and style. However, the book is a reminder of the dangers of messiahs in politics. ..."
— The Times
4.03 out of 5
"Atwood’s first poetry collection in more than 10 years is wry and entertaining..."
— The Observer
3.4 out of 5
Walking With Ghosts: A Memoir
"Walking With Ghosts is affecting on many levels: a working-class family memoir as well as a meditation on fame and its discontents...."
Murder on Mustique
"the book is suffused not just with mere charm, but with the author’s genuine, and genuinely attractive, personality..."
— The Sunday Telegraph
"This largely faithful retelling of Trojan myth is genial enough, but has unsavoury aspects for the modern reader..."
"an arresting meditation on the nature of love..."
4.17 out of 5
"The dazzling story of the slave turned general who led Haiti’s revolt against France..."
— The Sunday Times
3.77 out of 5
Anthony Quinn (Film Critic/Book reviewer)
"Klopp appears almost obscenely charming — honest, intelligent, sensible and funny — in Anthony Quinn’s revealing billet-doux..."
— The Spectator
4 out of 5
Hassan Blasim, Jonathan Wright
"This overwhelming novel by ‘Iraq’s Irvine Welsh’ captures the alienation of people exiled by conflict..."
When I Come Home Again
"(A) haunting tale in unpretentious but persuasive prose..."
Play the Red Queen
"Jurjevics vividly conjures up the febrile atmosphere of a city in turmoil...."
Mozart: The Reign of Love
"A biography of the composer that is so vivid, you feel you could shake hands with him..."
"a riveting, tantalisingly ambiguous portrait ..."
I Hate Men
Pauline Harmange, Natasha Lehrer
"It’s a baffling argument. ..."
The Time Traveller and the Tiger
"a suspenseful story in which the reader is strongly invested ..."
At Night All Blood Is Black
David Diop, Anna Moschovakis
"a remarkable piece of writing..."
When the Lights Go Out
"(A) clear-eyed, wry, wise novel..."
— Irish Times
The Butcher of Berner Street
"Reeve’s latest novel continues to hold the reader’s attention ..."
The First Woman
Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
"this is a novel bursting with resilience and warmth..."
4.4 out of 5
"the book offers “perspectives” by insiders ... who all give Callaghan the credit for good intentions..."
"one of our finest contemporary novelists, of any genre..."
4.53 out of 5
William S Burroughs and the Cult of Rock'n'Roll
"Rae shows little interest in disrupting the legend of the writer as a charismatic outlaw..."
— The Guardian
"combines memoir from a lifetime of travel ... and reflections on how islands illuminate his own life and the human condition..."
4.43 out of 5
I Am An Island
"a vivid and at times almost unbearably distressing story from which it is very hard to turn away..."
A Luminous Republic
Andres Barba, Lisa Dillman
"Barba’s denouement still grips with the power of a thriller..."
— Times Literary Supplement
Leave the World Behind
"Timely novel about a sudden, cataclysmic event that shocks the world..."
4.22 out of 5
The Collected Stories of Shirley Hazzard
"Hazzard is wonderfully attuned to subtle shifts in moods and feelings, particularly when writing dialogue, at which she excels..."
Fracture: Stories of How Great Lives Tak...
"I learned a lot reading this..."
Kant’s Little Prussian Head and Other ...
"Her essays on writers such as Ishiguro, Camus and Jane Bowles make returning to their works a renewed pleasure..."
Take Arms Against a Sea of Troubles
"No one is going to base a claim for Bloom’s merits on this final book. ..."
The Night of the Fire
"a clear-eyed examination of how the pettiness of village life mirrors the wider problems in a changing society..."
Sebastian Fitzek, Jamie Bulloch
"plot is lacking in both credibility and coherence..."
"Final verdict? A hugely entertaining paranoid pantomime..."
Cary Grant: A Brilliant Disguise
"conscientiously researched and gracefully written..."
Kill a Stranger
"There’s perhaps a shade too much dependence on withholding information from the reader, but that thud you hear is Kernick whipping the rug from under your feet again...."
The Death of Camus
Giovanni Catelli, Andrew Tanzi, Paul Auster
"Catelli presents his thesis as an artless spy story..."
The Flip Side
"It's the debut rom-com you'll want on your list..."
— Woman & Home
"A gripping read..."
Dolly Parton, Songteller
Dolly Parton, Robert K. Oermann
"this "show-stopping" visual memoir-cum-annotated songbook charts her journey from impoverished Smoky Mountain Tennessee girl to international superstar, telling the stories behind songs like "Jolene" and "9 to 5"..."
— The Bookseller
Songteller: My Life in Lyrics
"twanging tunes and rawhide emotions..."
No Time Like the Future
Michael J Fox
"The Hollywood actor is bracingly honest about the reality of living with Parkinson’s..."
I Want to Be Where the Normal People Are
"Bloom’s memoir is somewhat hit-and-miss despite entertaining moments...."
— The Independent
A Friendship in Letters: Robert Louis St...
"The two Scottish writers never met, but their letters reveal a surprisingly deep bromance..."
Prof Bernhard Schlink, Charlotte Collins
"This poignant tale of a mismatched couple in turn-of-the-century Germany gives away its secrets too early..."
The Time Traveller's Guide to Regency Britain
"Every page of The Time Traveller’s Guide To Regency Britain is crammed with enlightening information..."
— Daily Mail
"a thriller that improves as it advances, becoming a riveting brain teaser as well as serving up vivid action scenes..."
Things I Learned on the 6.28
"the whole book is a lucky dip: put in your thumb, pull out a plum, and relish it..."
— The Scotsman
Black Hole Survival Guide
"A brilliantly compressed guide to the baffling phenomenon of black holes..."
Going for Broke: The Rise of Rishi Sunak
"If this is to believed, Sunak is a unicorn...."
3 out of 5
Sybille Bedford: An Appetite for Life
"Drinking wine aged 10, endless parties and so many women ... a fine novelist who preferred good times to writing..."
3.83 out of 5
"This enjoyable first tie-in by the show's creator, writer and executive producer is told in the voice of main character Erin...."
"there’s Harry Potter-ish pleasures to be had getting lost in Montverre’s labyrinthine corridors and the byzantine intricacies of the game..."
4.33 out of 5
The Time Traveller's Guide to Regency England
"Every page of The Time Traveller’s Guide To Regency Britain is crammed with enlightening information about the period, some of it just plain weird...."
4.67 out of 5
"Filled with dreamlike memories, this autobiography is both surprising and delightful..."
Scoff: A History of Food and Class
"This richly detailed study of British food and its relation to social class is truly delectable..."
4.31 out of 5
Hitler and Stalin
"explores similarities between the tyrants from Germany and Soviet Union..."
4.29 out of 5
Between the Covers
"Jilly always makes the reader see through her eyes..."
4.25 out of 5
The Moth and the Mountain
" an urgent and humane story that invites not mockery of a madman, but pity and admiration..."
4.18 out of 5
To Be a Man
"questions linger long after the final pages of this supremely intelligent collection..."
The Glamour Boys
"Though outsiders, they were hardly auditioning to live on Planet Woke..."
One by One
"a suspenseful and spine-tingling page-turner..."
The Fall of a Sparrow
Ann Pasternak Slater
"(a) valuable but flawed account..."
The Last Good Man
"Thomas McMullan’s debut novel portrays a vivid dystopia fuelled by sham democracy..."
The Stubborn Light of Things
"She reflects on the changing habitat around her with passionate understanding and gentle encouragement that we follow suit..."
"an immersive and immensely powerful novel..."
3.82 out of 5
Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops
"Pantomime misanthropy is tempered with bursts of sweetness in the secondhand bookseller’s latest dispatches from Wigtown..."
3.8 out of 5
"The Ickabog won’t just be put under every lucky child’s Christmas tree: it is a monster hit that deserves to be...."
— Evening Standard
3.75 out of 5
"(a) powerful history of the struggle to abolish slavery in the West Indies..."
3.68 out of 5
Look Again: The Autobiography
"Bailey’s ghostwriter, makes what could be an exercise in self-mythology something far more raw and surprising..."
3.31 out of 5
The Autumn of the Ace
Louis de Bernieres
"a moving new novel by the Captain Corelli’s Mandolin author..."
3.25 out of 5
4.35 out of 5
4.28 out of 5
Who They Was
The New Wilderness
The Shadow King
3.64 out of 5
This Mournable Body
4.11 out of 5
Such a Fun Age
4.21 out of 5
3.58 out of 5
3.96 out of 5
4.27 out of 5
The Man Who Saw Everything
4.15 out of 5
Lee Child, Andrew Child
"Cybercrime, though, is notoriously difficult to translate into fiction..."
3.17 out of 5
"It would make an ideal present for a wicked aunt..."
The Thief of the Winged Horse
"a magical tale that blends very human people with a hidden world of enchantment..."
"A chilling debut, wonderfully paced..."
A Song for the Dark Times
"It is always good to be back in Rebus’s company, even more so with Rankin slipping in various hints as to his eventual demise..."
"Thomas has come up with an original plot and his detective is gay, allowing him to explore homophobia in the police..."
3.29 out of 5
The Windsor Knot
" based on a delightful conceit..."
The Dead of Winter
"an absorbing plot that has its roots in the brutal poverty of the 1930s..."
The Devil and the Dark Water
"a genre-sampling epic that sets outrageous traps for the reader..."
— Financial Times
4.49 out of 5
The Postscript Murders
"Griffiths carves out her own very distinctive niche in this sub-genre, balancing humour and suspense with some aplomb..."
The Law of Innocence
"grabs you on the very first page and doesn’t let go until the final, last-minute, twist..."
"you can’t help turning the pages hungrily to see what happens next..."
"Compelling, formally innovative and beautifully conceived, this is an unusual and deeply rewarding novel..."
"a beautiful and profound crime novel..."
When No One Is Watching