Ramon. .vr‘cse journalism, felt; mgr/r1 ’l’/.lil'l‘:rlial“:9 and publications about extremist“. of all ‘37 varieties. can never be accused of lacking guts. He ma ,' seem like the lad you would pick last at football in school. but he"; done Q,/(;F,’Iillll’} from confront Ian Paisley on a long-haul flight. pursue the truth from Jonathan King about his sexual appetites. meet religious fanatics who cheerfully donate their kidneys and been chased around Portugal by men in dark shades and darker cars. Next up. he's set to look into the oddball and sinister affairs of the US military in The Men Who Stare at Goats. Recommended Reading: The/n: Adventures With Extremists. a conSistently funny and occasionally scary trip into the heart of darkness.

(Brian Donaldson)

I Jon Ronson 8. Nick Ryan, l7Aug, 5pm, £7 (f5).


More to him than just a military mandolin

lnterspersmg fictional chapters With those of straight history, Louis de Bernieres and his latest novel. Birds Without Wings. are undoubtedly one of this year's bigger draws. It's a bold experiment from the exotically monikered English author, espeCially as it's his first full length novel since every man. woman and child on the planet read Captain Core/li 's Mandolin and deCried the film adaptation. De Bernieres himself huffed: ‘It would be impossible for a parent to be happy about its baby's ears being put on backwards.‘

Pitting romantic paSSion against the backdrop of Violence once more. Birds describes a small coastal town in South West Anatolia during the crumble of the Ottoman


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young men from the tow". shatters iiS peaceful innocence and antinxatel,’ reSliapes Europe. An engaging. .vcrirll, ".‘JISC‘ old soul. de Berriieres should rec0uiit it With virn and Wit. Recommended Reading: The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman: No one expects the induiSition. Or the lengths of their preSident's sex drive. (Jay Richardson)

I .74 Aug, 7 7.30am, F7 (F5).


Man with fingers in several studious pies

This Argentine-born writer certainly isn't short of gifts. He has an international reputation as a polyglot anthrop0logist. translator and editor of Canadian ghost stories. shOrt tales by Latin American women and an anthology of stories abOut fathers and sons. But for Scottish readers. he's best known for his novella Stevenson Under the Palm Trees. Mangel's LOUIS is mortally ill in Samoa and desperately trying to complete his last book in between moments of nausea. Still. he has people around him on the island who Will care for him no matter what. Except all that changes when a Scottish miSSionary arrives predicting hell and damnation. And then. almost unbelievably. some truly dreadful things start OCCurring. Not strictly for the RLS purists. but an inVigorating propOSition. nonetheless. Recommended Reading The Dictionary of lmaginary Places. a literary guidebook of Cities. islands. c0untries. and continents including DraCuIa's castle. Middle Earth and Utopia. (Brian Donaldsonl I 74 Aug, 7pm. £8 (96/.


Fantasy footie pioneer gets serious

David Baddiel is not one of those opportunist comedians eking a few more quid out of their public profile by writing a book. The Secret Purposes is Baddiel’s third novel and marks a distinct leap forward, being a serious, literary, ambitious and complex story, packed with character and beautifully told. The novel concerns the treatment of refugee German Jews in wartime Britain, specifically their internment on the Isle of Man for most of the war. The story was inspired by the experiences of Baddiel’s grandfather, and it seems it was stewing at the back of his mind for a while.

‘Before I’d even written my first novel I’d started to think this was a good subject for a book,‘ he says. ‘It’s only when I started to research it that I realised what an incredible world the refugees had set up for themselves, this extraordinary Jewish world they’d created on the Isle of Man.’ The novel does have the odd comedy moment but is essentially a touching story of how everyday people are affected by major historical events. Baddiel’s first two novels were comedies, and much smaller scale stories, so why the shift in emphasis?

‘You write according to the ideas you have, so I tried to write a book that suited this idea rather than suiting a preconceived idea of who I am as a writer,’ he says. ‘Because I am confident about my ability as a writer it didn’t occur to me to think I couldn’t write a serious book.’ (Doug Johnstone)

I lQAt/g, 6300/7), [‘8 (556/.

Tackling preconceptions

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Celeb chefs are everywhere, even chewing the fat at literary gatherings. Here’s a selection of novels to make your mouth water.

Bone in the Throat Sous-chef Tommy Pagano was cared for as a child by his connected uncle Sal Pitera. and later finds himself embroiled in dangerous mob business. New York Chef Tony Bourdain writes about what he knows. But you have to worry about how much that really is? Chocolat Joanne Harris has insisted that her tantalising French tome has the exact same plot as A Fistful of Dollars. A spaghetti novel, then?

The Grapes of Wrath Steinbeck's title is an allusion to the struggles of humanity in extreme Circumstances. It's also a cheeky cocktail with vodka. cranberry juice, Coke and pineapple juice. And grapes.

Hunger One of the great existential classics, Knut Hamsun's tummy- rumbling tale of a starving artist in Oslo continually on the verge of famine will have you grazing constantly throughout its ZOO-plus pages. Jane Eyre Not just a tome about an innocent lassie tainted by misfortune but a heavily metaphorical scran study. Burnt porridge. scraps and her own impoverishment are symbols for Janey's desire to better herself. So, my critical studies pals tell me. (Brian Donaldson)

I Hugh Feamley- Whittingsta/l, 77 Aug. 6. 30pm, £8 (£6); Claire MacDonald, 19 Aug, 3.30pm, £7 (£5).