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MAGIC REALISM JONATHAN SAFRAN FOER Everything is Illuminated Haii‘ish Haitiilton E‘ .292)“ O...

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rs Mum/mated is a powerful and shocking read whatever context you put it in.

Foer's main narrator is Alexander Perchov. an aspirational Ukrainian with a fictional love life and a literal way with the English language. in ‘.'.’lll(Ill a guide dog becoii‘es at 'seeing eye bitch". Perchov is helping an American Jew named Jonathan Safran Foer track down a woman who helped his grandparents escape the Nazis.

His comic acc0unt is iiitenyoven with tales from Trachimbrod. the settlement from which l-oer's family was flung. It‘s a disconcerting tactic that allows the author to effectively mix magic £1l‘(l realism, and despite its playful humour and postmodern fl0urishes. this fine debut burns ".‘J‘liil harsh and sincere emotion. (James Smart)


Thanks to real-life crash disasters such as Leekerbie and 1 1 September. we are more aware of the function of black box recorders. Author Nick Walker places the deVice at the centre of his highly original novel as a ii:eans of exploring the connections that eXist l)(,‘i‘\.')/(:(3ll seemingly disparate characters. lakirig as his premise.


Dirt Music (Picador £15.99) 0000.

Dirt Music is Tim Winton's first novel since The Riders

in 1995, a book for which he was shortlisted for the

Booker Prize, and it surely puts the author in the running for that accolade once more. This is an

amazing, expansive, moving, delicate and bruising

book and is written with a voice nothing short of


Part battered love story, part road movie and part thriller, Dirt Music is a novel that keeps you enthralled on a number of levels, and Winton’s perfect pace and wonderful descriptive talents are excellently to the

fore. Based in Winton’s home of Australia’s

windswept, sun-blistered western seaboard, the story

spins around the unlikely relationship between

Georgie Jutland, the wife of a prominent fisherman in the brutal White Point seaside community, and fish

poaching musician and outcast Lu Fox.

Georgie is a runaway train of a character, careening

from one life-disaster to the next, while Lu is

struggling to cope with the death of his family in a car crash. As the action heads to Australia’s desolate,

dangerous northern coast, Winton’s evocations of the vast, awesome country and the depth and complexity

TIM WINTUN [ll/if MUS/6'

of the human condition are frightening yet compelling, and his depth of linguistic skill keeps you besotted until the final, nerve-shredding, breath-catching line. Ultimately, with a tense, climactic ending, Dirt Music is either a thriller with a brain or a literary work with balls, depending on your point of view.

Either way, it’s a beautiful book. (Doug Johnstone)

the well-worn theory that we are all connected by six degrees. Walker associates his 20 or so characters. whether intimately or by chance. with the death of a Chinese stowaway. Among these are the guilty stewardess who helped smuggle the girl aboard the plane. a stand-up comedian. an American talk show host and a therapist. Between them they exhibit enough neuroses to fill a self-help manual and all appear to be hovering on the line between life and death. The action veers between ceiintries. time zones. past and present. but Walker controls the loose. filmic structure beautifully. drawing us in to what is a gripping and compelling novel. (Allan Radcliffe)

HORROR TALE JOYCE REARDON ED. The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer: My Life at Rose Red (Hodder & Stoughton £12.99) 0.

A spin-off from Stephen King's latest TV mini- series. Rose Red. this is the first tome he's worked on Since his near fatal car crash. It's a haunted house tale packed with seances. disappearances and mysterious deaths in the

early 19003.

Married to the strict multimillionaire. John Rimbauer. Ellen is young and naive. having entered marriage with her eyes half-closed. Their honeymoon is no picnic but when they return to their home in Seattle the titular Rose Red things take a decided turn towards the darkside.

Narratively its steeped in cliche: African handmaids with voodoo powers and Indian burial grounds are just too easy a get-out clause. Its attention to detail in presenting itself as an authentic diary is admirable. but the protagonist appears to contradict feelings she expressed just pages earlier. It may work as a companion piece to the irtini-series. but as a stand-alone work of fiction it falls woefully short. (Henry Northmore)

DETECTIVE SERIES ALEXANDER MCCALL SMITH The Kalahari Typing School for Men (Polygon $28.99) 0000


Precious Ramotswe is back. and it's been a long year without her. These Botswanian-set detective stories just keep getting better. After the dark mysteries of Morality for Beautiful Girls this picks up at a slower pace.

Mma Ramotswe and her gifted assistant Mma Matusi have taken up the backroom of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors in order to help out Ramotswe's fiance Mr JLB Matekoni who is still recovering from a bout of depression. The lady detective has two beautiful adopted children (from the previous story) and a steadily successful busmess. but she's still waiting for that marriage proposal. So she turns her attentions on Mma

Moving, delicate and bruising

Matusi's marital prospects and ends up with a typing school for men. The cases begin to pile up and so do the possible suitors. Alexander McCall Smith lets gentle whimsy shine through the dusty shutters on this one. a latter day James Baldwin dipping his sand dried biscuit into Father Brown's milky cup of bush tea. (Paul Dale)

MODERN MELODRAMA REGI CLAIRE The Beauty Room (Polygon €8.99) 00.

Too many plot strands threaten to unhinge the reader as well as the heroine of Regi Claire's debut. The chaotic. uneaSy novel starts Out as a detailed portrait of nerw administrator Celia Roth. who is discovered attempting to exorCise the ghost of her recently deceased mother by ripping out the interior of the late beauticians