- BuyMaidenhair by Mikhail Shishkin, translated by Marian Schwartz
Open Letter, 506 pp, £12.99, November 2012, ISBN 978 1 934824 36 8
Most writers of fiction want to give their readers the sense of an alternative passage of time to the actual one. This, the narrative drive, comes through a combination of events following one another in chronological order and events having consequences that lead to other events – a mix, in other words, of the consecutive and the contingent. Pride and Prejudice, The Big Sleep and The Code of the Woosters are both consecutive and contingent. Anna Karenina, Housekeeping and A House for Mr Biswas are consecutive, but less contingent: much that happens in these books, as in life, is not about a chain of cause and effect – things simply happen, one after the other.