Vanessa Springora's Consent: A Memoir (HarperVia) was a favourite amongst this weekend's critics. In the memoir, originally published in France in January 2020, Springora tells of having been sexually abused by writer Gabriel Matzneff between the ages of 14 and 16, when he was more than three times her age. In the Times, Melanie Reid dubbed the memoir "rapier-sharp, written with restraint, elegance and brevity — and beautifully translated." In the Guardian, Lauren Elkin said the author describes, with "admirable restraint," how Matzneff "expertly manipulated her." In the Spectator, Fleur Macdonald thought the memoir "dismantles the myth of the eccentric genius," adding that "Matzneff’s legacy is now enmeshed forever in this clever, thoughtful and honest book."
Inga Vesper's The Long, Long Afternoon (Bonnier Zaffre) wasn't a drag for this weekend's critics. The Sunday Times' Joan Smith wrote, "Vesper mixes a gripping plot with pithy views on class, sex and race." Whilst the Guardian's Laura Wilson descried the California-set mystery in which a 1950s housewife goes missing, as a " tale of inequality, broken dreams and quiet desperation behind a picture-perfect facade." Over in the Times, Antonia Senior called the novel a "clever and absorbing debut".
Critics heralded Steven Hall's Maxwell's Demon (Canongate Books) "enjoyable," "consistently fun" and "often impressive". The Daily Telegraph's Jake Kerridge gave the book a near perfect score, calling the title a "theory-heavy mystery novel that’s as postmodern as they come, and – or but, depending on the reader – it’s superb." The Scotsman's Stuart Kelly felt Hall's second novel had been "well worth the wait" adding "the genius of the book is that despite it seeming like an elegant orrery, all these wheels within wheels are a carapace, a psychic armour against a grief."
Tamsin Hackett, Books Co-ordinator, The Bookseller