Read on for the latest reviews, news, events and prizes on the Omnivore Digest. Review roundups for books by Isabel Allende, David Grossman and the controversial new offering from Amy Chua aka 'Tiger Mom'. Sheila Heti, Melvyn Bragg, Julie Burchill on the Literary Calendar. A historic Hatchet Job on our Hatchet Job winner. Our Author Pitch recounts a difficult Dublin childhood.
Win one of three sets of the Folio Prize shortlist

The newly established Folio Prize quite intentionally makes all other prizes look puny with its scope and ambition: open to writers from around the world, it aims to reward regardless of genre or form. The inaugural shortlist includes Last Friends by Jane Gardam which Tessa Hadley called "exuberant and funny" in her Guardian review, Rachel Kushner's The Flamethrowers, described by the New Yorker's James Wood as "brilliantly alive" and Tenth of December by George Saunders which was, according to Leyla Sanai in The Independent"brilliant, trenchant and hilarious."

We've got three sets of the eight shortlisted books to give away, thanks to FMcM. For your chance to win, please tell us the names of your three favourite members of the Folio Prize Academy. Entries to by Monday 1 March. 
Mrs Hemingway by Naomi Wood
Reviews Buy | Comment |
"A wonderful book: carefully written, richly imagined and emotionally wise." Jon Day, The Telegraph VS "The true, raw details of what was a grim and nasty decline are rather glossed over. As a result, the women can feel somewhat slavish" Lucy Atkins,  Sunday Times
The Triple Package: What Really Determines Success by Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld
Reviews | Buy Comment |
"Powerful, passionate and very entertaining" Allison Pearson, The Telegraph VS "the Bernard Mannings of academe" Catherine Bennett, The Guardian


In his acceptance speech for the Hatchet Job of the Year Award 2014, AA Gill fondly reminisced about the mauling his first novel, Sap Rising, had received at the hands of the critics. One of those critics was Nick Lezard:

"The latest Tom Sharpe of the 90s is meant to be AA Gill, who writes about half of the Sunday Times, much of it in the capacity of critic. Now, one does not expect critics to make good novelists, although one can understand the impulse that makes them have a go, but one can expect at least a certain attention to language, plot, or style, and if the critic cannot keep all those plates spinning, he or she usually manages to keep at least one wobbling upright until the last page. Not so Gill. Reluctant though one is to contribute to any of the publicity surrounding this dismal book, whose plot is too tedious to summarise, it is worth warning people off it, if only as a public service."

Read the full review, originally published in the Guardian in 1996.


Ripper by Isabel Allende
Reviews | Buy | Comment |
"The Scandi-influenced result is idiosyncratic, unflinching, glaringly contemporary and obviously much better written than it needs to be. Allende excels at exacting portraiture and barbed asides." John O'Connell, The Independent VS "Considered purely as a thriller, Ripper is cliché-ridden and predictable. " Andrew Taylor, The Spectator
Falling Out of Time by David Grossman
Reviews | Buy | Comment |
“In this book of sorrows, Grossman captures every shade of grief and guilt. There is very little good writing about bereavement; Falling Out of Time is as true and as powerful as CS Lewis’s great A Grief Observed.” Kate Saunders, The Times 
The Strangler Vine by MJ Carter
Reviews | Buy | Comment |
"As well as being a rattling good yarn in the traditions of GA Henty or Rudyard Kipling, this is also a well-informed and enlightened modern book that has a properly sceptical view of imperialist propaganda. I do not remember when I enjoyed a novel more than this." AN Wilson, The Financial Times
Best of the rest
Winter by Christopher Nicholson, Completion by Tim Walker, Entry Island by Peter May, Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan, At Night We Walk in Circles by Daniel Alarcón, 
Pick of the paperbacks
The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith, A Commonplace Killing by Sian Busby, Idiopathy by Sam Byers
Jumbo: The Unauthorised Biography of a Victorian Sensation by John Sutherland
Reviews | Buy Comment |
"This book is so wonderful, so charming, I promise it will allow everyone to find the little Jumbo inside themselves." Helen Rumbelow, The Times VS 'The narrative darts… It is a shame. Throughout there are glimmers of the book that might have been expected, given Sutherland’s distinguished back catalogue as a literary scholar' Louise Jury, The Independent
Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us by Jesse Bering
Reviews | Buy | Comment |

"Despite its wild variations in tone, this is, overall, a serious and humane book." Steven Poole, The Guardian VS "The disappointment is that Perv is less than the sum of its provocative parts. ­Bering offers entertaining details and worthwhile history but doesn’t think about the endless complexities with enough depth." Daniel Bergner, New York Times
Branson: Behind the Mask by Tom Bower
Reviews | Buy | Comment |

"Tom Bower can be a terrific journalist... Yet his Branson books fail. The tone in this one is relentlessly sarcastic. The narrative is repetitive and tangled... Worse, minor facts are often wrong." Nicholas Blincoe, The Telegraph
Pick of the paperbacks
Give Me Everything You Have: On Being Stalked by James Lasdun, A Prince Among Stones by Prince Rupert Loewenstein, Love Nina by Nina Stibbe


What have you just finished reading?
When the weather’s miserable I like to read a few classics, over January I read North and South and The Picture of Dorian Gray.

What will you read next?
I’m doing a painting series at the moment featuring Mythological figures, so I have been dipping in and out of different texts around the subject.  I particularly like The Routledge Handbook of Greek Mythology by Robin Hard.

Victoria, 28, Bermdonsey

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On Charlotte's Shoulders by Julie Monahan

What made you sit down and write your memoirs?
I started writing a few bits about my childhood for an autobiographical writing class I attended some years ago. I enjoyed writing and the pieces I prepared were always well received by my classmates and tutor. This gave me some encouragement to set it all down in chronological form rather than just recalling memories. I also thought it was time for a memoir from a female perspective. Although there are many books out there written by Irish women, they tend to written by middle class women, or are tabloid style stories of the shock, horror type. Potboiler tales of depravity or of sexual/physical abuse, drug addiction etc. with an emphasis on the lurid.

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