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In this edition of The Omnivore Digest: reviews for John Le Carré's new novel and Granta's Best of Young British Novelists (along with what the critics made of their books), win the Women's Prize Shortlist, news of exciting technological developments Stateside — and over here: we need beta-testers for the new-look Omnivore website (see below for how to apply).

FICTION

      

A DELICATE TRUTH by John Le Carré
'The best novel le Carré has written for some time' Allan Massie, Scotsman VS 'What prevents A Delicate Truth from achieving the dizzying heights of le ­Carré’s best work is his seething contempt for his villains..' Stephen Amidon, Sunday Times

BEST OF YOUNG BRITISH NOVELISTS ed. John Freeman
'A remarkable, characterful snapshot of the range and depth of British fiction today.' Robert Collins, Sunday Times VS '[It] probably counts as a heinous act of party-pooping: but Best of Young British Novelists 4 doesn't, as a whole, inspire about the future of the British novel. It offers some exceptional writing, but mostly solid, old-fashioned storytelling or hit-and-miss, boil-in-the-bag postmodernism.' Theo Tait, Guardian

THE ROSIE PROJECT by Graeme Simsion
'One of the most endearing, charming and fascinating literary characters I have met in a long time.' Sarah Vine, Times VS 'Tillman is essentially a one-note narrator, the novelty of whose voice inevitably wears off.' Trevor Lewis, Sunday Times

Best of the rest: UNDER YOUR SKIN by Sabine Durrant, THE CRANE'S WIFE by Patrick Ness, FOBBIT by David Abrams, THE FORGIVEN by Lawrence Osborne
 
Paperback picks: FLIGHT BEHAVIOUR by Barbara Kingsolver, THE DINNER by Herman Koch, ANCIENT LIGHT by John Banville

NON-FICTION

   

MOM & ME & MOM by Maya Angelou
‘A profoundly moving tale of separation and reunion, and an ultimately optimistic portrait of the maternal bond’ Fiona Sturges, Independent VS ‘Unfortunately, this is a slight, anecdotal and badly edited book that rehashes stories from previous memoirs … I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was a ground-breaking triumph. Mom & Me & Mom does a good job of undermining it.’ Bernadine Evaristo, Observer

SILENCE: A CHRISTIAN HISTORY by Diarmaid MacCulloch
‘Intellectually robust, and without the prevarications and self-qualifications that sometimes stymie academic prose. Indeed, MacCulloch is by turns precise, poetic and righteously indignant.’ Stuart Kelly, Guardian VS ‘The author’s dislike for the official version can drive him to embrace contrarian theories with more certainty than the evidence warrants’ The Economist

SMALL WARS, FAR AWAY PLACES by Michael Burleigh
‘The relief of reading history that is not suffused with infantile Leftism, patrician liberalism or romantic patriotism is immense. Instead we get the raw truth, conveyed in scintillating language by a master of historical irony and of the grimly entertaining.’ George Walden, Telegraph VS ‘Burleigh’s judgments are sometimes a tad crude. That is not because of ignorance … Rather, Burleigh seems to be instinctively truculent, the historian as partisan.’ Piers Brendon, Sunday Times

Best of the rest: FALLING UPWARDS by Richard Holmes, HOW TO READ A GRAVEYARD by Peter Stanford, CS LEWIS: A LIFE by Alister McGrath, CREATION by Adam Rutherford, LAST MAN IN RUSSIA by Oliver Bullough

Paperback picks: AMONG THE HOODS: MY YEARS WITH A TEENAGE GANG by Harriet Sergeant, CHEEK BY JOWL: A HISTORY OF NEIGHBOURS by Emily Cockayne, ENEMIES: A HISTORY OF THE FBI by Tim Weiner
 

OMNIVORE ROUNDUPS FOR GRANTA'S BEST OF YOUNG BRITISH NOVELISTS


                   


 





THE OMNIMETER

  Up: American history
Techy visions of the future still take their cues from 1960s sci-fi, all holograms and robots. Less flashy than Google Glasses but just as futuristic (and a million times more useful) is the Digital Public Library of America, which launched quietly last week. The DPLA is an uninspiring name for a spectacular project: archives, libraries and museums across America have teamed up to put their collections online. Five minutes’ browsing uncovered an 1845 emigrant’s guide to California, the correspondence of Helen Keller and the bullet that killed JFK. Say goodbye to your Tuesday afternoon. 

 Up: American expats
Listen to David Sedaris reading ‘Dentists without Borders’, from his new collection, Exploring Diabetes with Owls

 Up: Sexting, 19th century style
Mark Twain makes the Omnimeter again with this hunky topless snap. What is Man, indeed. 
 
 Up: Attention to detail
If you think your friends are boring, spare a thought for Proust’s. According to a pal, the self-published author would ‘wake him up, begin talking, and deliver one long sentence that did not come to an end until the middle of the night. The sentence would be full of asides, parentheses, illuminations, reconsiderations, revisions, addenda, corrections, augmentations, digressions, qualifications, erasures, deletions, and marginal notes.’ Feel the full force of his personality with these heavily revised manuscripts of Swann’s Way, recently digitised by the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

 Down: Imitating greatness
‘There was the era, inspired by Saul Bellow, when I would, at great peril to myself, attempt headstands in the corner of my office.’ Why, if you’re trying to write a book, you should probably stop reading interviews with authors. 
 
Down: Critics
Daniel Bellow, son of Saul, has taken the Guardian to task for mistakenly using a photo of him to illustrate a review of his brother Greg’s book about their father. He also had this to say about Adam Mars-Jones’ review: ‘As for the experience of being the son of a great writer, I will say only that there is always some wanker of a critic who thinks he knows your old man better than you do.’ 

WIN THE WOMEN'S PRIZE SHORTLIST


 
"Incredibly strong, thrilling and diverse" was how the chair of the judges described the finalists for this year's Women's Prize for Fiction, and who could disagree with a shortlist that includes two former winners and one writer who could be the first to bag all three of the UK's top literary awards?
 
We are delighted to be giving away all six books: May We Be Forgiven by A.M. Homes, Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver, Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple, Life after Life by Kate Atkinson, NW by Zadie Smith and Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel.
 
For your chance to win, answer the following question: Which of this year's Women's Prize judges turned down the lead role in Fatal Attraction? Entries to competitions@theomnivore.co.uk by Tuesday 30 April.


WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE A BETA-TESTER?

Exciting news: The Omnivore website is getting a makeover and we need YOU to help test it. If you are interested please email contact@theomnivore.co.uk No technical knowledge required!
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