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Even what doesn’t happen is epic

Nick Richardson: Chinese SF, 8 February 2018

The Three-Body Problem 
by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu.
Head of Zeus, 416 pp., £8.99, January 2016, 978 1 78497 157 1
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The Dark Forest 
by Cixin Liu, translated by Joel Martinsen.
Head of Zeus, 512 pp., £8.99, July 2016, 978 1 78497 161 8
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Death’s End 
by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu.
Head of Zeus, 724 pp., £8.99, May 2017, 978 1 78497 165 6
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The Wandering Earth 
by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu.
Head of Zeus, 447 pp., £8.99, October 2017, 978 1 78497 851 8
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Invisible Planets 
edited and translated by Ken Liu.
Head of Zeus, 383 pp., £8.99, September 2017, 978 1 78669 278 8
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... gives it a very different feel to most current Western sci-fi (China Miéville, Jeff VanderMeer, Margaret Atwood and others), which is largely pro-left. It’s not just the books’ portrayal of revolutionary groups and the state’s economic role. In the novels, the world hundreds of years in the future is still organised cladistically: America is a ...

Everlasting Fudge

Theo Tait: The Difficult Fiction of Cynthia Ozick, 19 May 2005

The Bear Boy 
by Cynthia Ozick.
Weidenfeld, 310 pp., £12.99, March 2005, 0 297 84808 9
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... Booker Prize for career achievement, alongside Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, Gabriel García Márquez, Margaret Atwood et al. Consequently, it is sometimes seen as surprising that she is so little read in Britain. Her formidable essays have been published and admired here; but, of her nine works of fiction, only The Bear Boy – published in America as ...

Head in an Iron Safe

David Trotter: Dickens’s Tricks, 17 December 2020

The Artful Dickens: Tricks and Ploys of the Great Novelist 
by John Mullan.
Bloomsbury, 428 pp., £16.99, October 2020, 978 1 4088 6681 8
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... been of interest, he thinks, to modernist and postmodern writers from James Joyce to Don DeLillo, Margaret Atwood and Sarah Waters. Chapters on the delight Dickens took in names and his use of coincidence demonstrate with equal conviction that technique can be a way of knowing the world.Mullan’s accounts of key preoccupations ...

Good enough for Jesus

Charlotte Brewer, 25 January 1990

The State of the Language: 1990 Edition 
edited by Christopher Ricks and Leonard Michaels.
Faber, 531 pp., £17.50, January 1990, 9780571141821
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Clichés and Coinages 
by Walter Redfern.
Blackwell, 305 pp., £17.50, October 1989, 0 631 15691 7
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Rhetoric: The Wit of Persuasion 
by Walter Nash.
Blackwell, 241 pp., £25, October 1989, 0 631 16754 4
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... Ong on subway graffiti, and the section opens with a splendidly passionate and ambitious piece by Margaret Doody on the revision of the hymnal used by Princeton University Chapel, a booklet called ‘Inconclusive Language Hymns’ which is produced by the First Congregational Church. From here, Doody strikes out boldly into territory of wide aesthetic and ...

Kick over the Scenery

Stephanie Burt: Philip K. Dick, 3 July 2008

Four Novels of the 1960s: ‘The Man in the High Castle’, ‘The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch’, ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’, ‘Ubik’ 
by Philip K. Dick.
Library of America, 830 pp., $35, May 2008, 978 1 59853 009 4
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Five Novels of the 1960s and 1970s: ‘Martian Time-Slip’, ‘Dr Bloodmoney’, ‘Now Wait for Last Year’, ‘Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said’, ‘A Scanner Darkly’ 
by Philip K. Dick.
Library of America, 1128 pp., $40, August 2008, 978 1 59853 025 4
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... Library’s list. Novelists with clear literary pedigrees now write SF regularly: Doris Lessing, Margaret Atwood, Michael Chabon, Kazuo Ishiguro. Authors who began inside the SF ghetto have found success outside it: J.G. Ballard as an author of realist novels, Samuel Delany in academia, William Gibson, Lethem himself (whose first books owed a lot to ...

The Reviewer’s Song

Andrew O’Hagan: Mailer’s Last Punch, 7 November 2013

Norman Mailer: A Double Life 
by J. Michael Lennon.
Simon and Schuster, 947 pp., £30, November 2013, 978 1 84737 672 5
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... most machines, he agreed to some long-distance signing of books using a strange device invented by Margaret Atwood called the Longpen, where he signed them on a tablet and a mechanical arm in Edinburgh followed his scrawl. He said he had fond memories of Edinburgh, having taken part in a famous literary scrap organised there in 1962 by John Calder. I ...

Wanting to Be Something Else

Adam Shatz: Orhan Pamuk, 7 January 2010

The Museum of Innocence 
by Orhan Pamuk, translated by Maureen Freely.
Faber, 720 pp., £18.99, December 2009, 978 0 571 23700 5
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... art – ‘this outstanding novel clamours to be heard.’ ‘Essential reading for our time,’ Margaret Atwood proclaimed in a New York Times review of Snow, Pamuk’s grim, Dostoevskian thriller about Islamists and secularists clashing in north-eastern Turkey. (‘Headscarves to Die for’ was the headline.) Pamuk’s appeal has not been lost on ...

In Hyperspace

Fredric Jameson, 10 September 2015

Time Travel: The Popular Philosophy of Narrative 
by David Wittenberg.
Fordham, 288 pp., £18.99, March 2013, 978 0 8232 4997 8
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... Cormac McCarthy and Jonathan Lethem are not of the same genre as Philip K. Dick, however long Margaret Atwood managed to ‘pass’. Indeed, the solution may actually be a rather simple one, namely that modernism is not a genre, while SF emphatically is – and this opens up questions of an appeal to different reading publics, as well as their ...

Back from the Underworld

Marina Warner: The Liveliness of the Dead, 17 August 2017

The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains 
by Thomas Laqueur.
Princeton, 711 pp., £27.95, October 2015, 978 0 691 15778 8
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... to make the risky trip to the Underworld, and to bring something or someone back from the dead,’ Margaret Atwood suggested in her fine Empson Lectures. The aim is often redress, redress achieved through imaginative acts of memory, through exhuming the dead, as in Zong!, a remarkable prose-poem written in 2008 by M. NourbeSe Philip, which takes off from ...

Diary

Marina Warner: Literary Diplomacy, 16 November 2017

... by literary works is unsurpassable – revenants speaking directly to us. A few years ago, Margaret Atwood said that much of the business of writing engages writers in ‘negotiating with the dead’. The historians whose records of the past we remember and can relive in memory are usually storytellers above all: starting with Herodotus. For many ...

Customising Biography

Iain Sinclair, 22 February 1996

Blake 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 399 pp., £20, September 1995, 1 85619 278 4
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol I: Jerusalem 
editor David Bindman, edited by Morton D. Paley.
Tate Gallery, 304 pp., £48, August 1991, 1 85437 066 9
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. II: Songs of Innocence and Experience 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Andrew Lincoln.
Tate Gallery, 210 pp., £39.50, August 1991, 1 85437 068 5
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol III: The Early Illuminated Books 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Morris Eaves, Robert Essick and Joseph Viscomi.
Tate Gallery, 288 pp., £48, August 1993, 1 85437 119 3
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. IV: The Continental Prophecies: America, Europe, The Song of Los 
editor David Bindman, edited by D.W. Dörbecker.
Tate Gallery, 368 pp., £50, May 1995, 1 85437 154 1
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. V: Milton, a Poem 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Robert Essick and Joseph Viscomi.
Tate Gallery, 224 pp., £48, November 1993, 1 85437 121 5
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. VI: The Urizen Books 
 editor David Bindman, edited by David Worrall.
Tate Gallery, 232 pp., £39.50, May 1995, 9781854371553
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... The Collected Poems at number six (in company with Seamus Heaney, Jackie Kay, Simon Armitage and Margaret Atwood). The book was puffed as ‘the background to Peter Ackroyd’s best-selling biography’. The hike to Felpham, a dormitory of the living dead, was unremarkable. I understood why the journey took Blake 18 hours. There were moments, up ...

Witchiness

Marina Warner: Baba Yaga, 27 August 2009

Baba Yaga Laid an Egg 
by Dubravka Ugrešić, translated by Ellen Elias Bursác, Celia Hawkesworth and Mark Thompson.
Canongate, 327 pp., £14.99, May 2009, 978 1 84767 066 3
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... inventive and most substantial volume in Canongate’s series of revisioned myths. The first was Margaret Atwood’s Penelopiad, a harsh retelling in Penelope’s voice of the concluding scenes of the Odyssey. With her own special bite, Atwood singles out for dramatic treatment the girls who worked in the palace and ...

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