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Riley's 'talents are evident' in her latest offering, say critics

Book Reviews of the Weekend

Gwendoline Riley's My Phantoms (Granta Books) was certainly visible in this weekend's reviews. The Guardian positioned this title as a Book of the Day and reviewer Justine Jordan had high praise: "The difficult relationship between a mother and daughter is mercilessly dissected in this astute, bitterly funny novel." Over in the Observer, Alex Preston agreed: "A mother and daughter’s tense relationship makes for a devastating, quietly brutal novel." Claire Allfree called the novel "savagely funny, frequently painful and utterly merciless" in the Evening Standard, whilst the Sunday Times' Johanna Thomas-Corr said Riley "proves once again that she is a master of familial chaos." 

Blake Bailey's Philip Roth: The Biography (Yellow Jersey Press) saw no complaint from this weekend's reviewers. Selected as an Observer Book of the Week, Tim Adams wrote: "It is hard to imagine a book that will come up with a more definitive series of answers than this one." In the Spectator, David Baddiel said "in a gentle, detailed, way, Bailey’s biography sides with Roth in most of his many travails." Blake Morrison dubbed the biography of the novelist "an impressive, complex biography of the celebrated American writer, packed with anecdotes and jokes."

Haruki Murakami's First Person Singular: Stories (Harvill Secker) was likened to "meditations" by the Guardian's David Hayden. Translated by Philip Gabriel, the collection of short stories were called "unmistakably Murakami’s for the way they traffic in his signature themes of time and memory, nostalgia and young love" by the Sunday Times' Alexander Nurnberg. In the Scotsman, Allan Massie wrote: "The deceptively simple short stories in this new collection by Haruki Murakami offer many pleasures."

Tamsin Hackett, Books Co-ordinator, The Bookseller

Gwendoline Riley

4.05 out of 5

11 reviews

From the prize-winning author of First Love comes an eviscerating account of a toxic mother-daughter bond, grief, and the damage done in the course of a life.

Blake Bailey

3.67 out of 5

11 reviews

Tracing Roth's path from realism to farce to metafiction to the tragic masterpieces of the American Trilogy, Bailey explores Roth's engagement with nearly every aspect of post-war American culture.

Haruki Murakami, Philip Gabriel

3.23 out of 5

7 reviews

A mindbending new collection of short stories from the unique, internationally acclaimed author of Norwegian Wood and The Wind-up Bird Chronicle. A GUARDIAN AND SUNDAY TIMES 'BOOKS OF 2021' PICK