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Reviewers find Paul's Self-Portrait picture perfect

The Week in Review

Critics have painted the town red over Celia Paul's Self-Portrait (Jonathan Cape), declaring it "fascinating", a "myth about the misuse of fame and the male ego", and "pitilessly honest". Her turbulent relationship with Lucien Freud is a centre point of the memoir, with Ysenda Maxtone Graham stating in the Daily Mail, "You watch a woman being gradually eviscerated by love-torture," and the Spectator's Honor Clerk writing, "Among Freud’s myriad relations, lovers and friends, none can have brought a reader so close to him, none can have detailed so tellingly the fluctuating dynamic of magnetism and despair, the assertion of will in the face of domination." The Guardian's Frances Spalding described Self-Portrait as "fresh", and "comes as a surprise", adding, "Her views, both intimate and yet more distant and independent, enable her to recall hidden aspects of Freud’s life, his vulnerability, vanity, tenderness and undoubted need of her, as well as his brutality towards women."

Philippe Lancon's Disturbance: Surviving Charlie Hebdo (Europa), translated by Steven Rendall, also won acclaim, with the Evening Standard's David Sexton describing it as "engrossing, beautifully written book" and "not just a remarkable document but an inspiration to others in quite different plights," adding, "Nothing else has touched me in quite the same way this year." In the Spectator, Douglas Murray declared it "a magnificent tribute. Not just to Lançon’s murdered journalistic colleagues, but to the whole threatened tribe," and Andrew Anthony in the Guardian felt similarly, writing, "Without resorting to polemic, it’s an argument in favour of the intellectual life, of ideas as beautiful abstractions, weaponised only as satire, never as terror. It feels reassuringly rarefied, like an old-fashioned French talking-heads movie."

Martin Cruz Smith's The Siberian Dilemma (S&S) brought the reviewers in from the cold, with Adam LeBor in the Financial Times writing that the novel was "Cruz Smith at his best: ace storytelling with dry, laconic dialogue and a crumpled but courageous hero," and the New York Times' Marilyn Stasio praising the author's "lucid prose, surprising imagery and realistic dialogue", which "all serve his engrossing storytelling".

Kiera O'Brien, charts and data editor, The Bookseller

Celia Paul

3.82 out of 5

5 reviews

From her move to the Slade School of Fine Art at sixteen, through a profound and intense affair with the older and better-known artist Lucian Freud, to the practices of her present-day studio, she meticulously assembles the surprising, beautiful, haunting scenes of a life.

Philippe Lancon, Steven Rendall

4.00 out of 5

5 reviews

Paris, January 7, 2015. Two terrorists who claim allegiance to ISIS attack the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. The event causes untold pain to the victims and their families, prompts a global solidarity movement, and ignites a fierce debate over press freedoms and the role of satire today. 

Philippe Lançon, a journalist, author, and a weekly contributor to Charlie Hebdo is gravely wounded in the attack. This intense life experience upends his relationship to the world, to writing, to reading, to love and to friendship. As he attempts to reconstruct his life on the page, Lançon rereads Proust, Thomas Mann, Kafka, and others in search of guidance. It is a year before he can return to writing, a year in which he learns to work through his experiences and their aftermath. 

Disturbance is not an essay on terrorism nor is it a witness's account of Charlie Hebdo. The attack and what followed are part of Lançon's narrative, which, instead, touches upon the universal. It is an honest, intimate account of a man seeking to put his life back together after it has been torn apart. 

Disturbance is a book about survival, resilience, and reconstruction, about transformation, about one man's shifting relationship to time, to writing and journalism, to truth, and to his own body.

Martin Cruz Smith

3.92 out of 5

5 reviews

From the 'master of the international thriller' (New York Times), comes a new Arkady Renko novel.