Read on for review roundups of the latest books from Emma Donoghue, Sebastian Barry and Val McDermid. On the Literary Calendar, Owen Jones and Kamila Shamsie. The Omnivore Pin-up talks Virginia Woolf, Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Nicholas Evans. And our Author Pitch this week is out of Africa.
Win the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction shortlist

Prefer a Pulitzer medal or a lifetime's supply of Baileys Chocolat Luxe? Donna Tartt and Jhumpa Lahiri could soon have both as they 
go head-to-head for the 2014 Baileys Women’s Fiction Prize. This is on the proviso, of course, that, while whittling 158 entries to six, the judges – Mary Beard and Caitlin Moran included – haven’t drunk it already. National Book Critics Circle winner, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is the other big name on the list.

The other shortlisted books are debuts but equally impressive. Audrey Magee’s The Undertaking was praised by Helen Dunmore in The Guardian for its “boldness” and “honesty”. Anne Enright called Eime McBride, author of A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing“a genius” in her Guardian review but warned that the 2013 Goldsmiths Prize winner was for “the adventurous reader” only. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, a crime novel set in 19th century northern Iceland, was called “a debut of rare sophistication and beauty” by Lucy Scholes in The Observer.

For your chance to win the six books, and a bottle of Baileys Chocolat Luxe, please tell us the name of the bronze sculpture awarded with the prize. Over 18s only. Entries to by Monday 28 April. 

Can't and Won't by Lydia Davis
Reviews | Buy | Comment |
"Come to this one-book library for the mercurial gifts of its author; stay because the stories continually renew their invitation to be read inventively." Helen Oyeyemi, The Guardian VS "“Sorry. Can’t and Won’t is really a case of Didn’t and Wouldn’t — didn’t enjoy it at all, and wouldn’t recommend it.” Angus Clarke, The Times
Flash Boys: Cracking the Money Code by Michael Lewis
Reviews | Buy Comment |
"He is that rare beast: an insider who writes lucid, jargon-free prose... He is perhaps the American equivalent of John Lanchester." Alex Preston, The Telegraph VS "Ultimately unsatisfying... Lewis never penetrates their high-tech lairs, or even seems to have tried." James B Stewart, The New York Times

Sister-paper solidarity was in short supply in Rachel Cooke's Observer review of The Vagenda by Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett and Holly Baxter, who both write for The Guardian:

"Offensively puerile... it seems to me to be beyond outrageous to have a go at the glossies for all their daft, reductive, sexist lingo – babymoon, tanorexia, vajayjay – when your own writing is replete with terms such as "bum crack", "boobage", "cum-back" and worse (Kate Middleton, meanwhile, is referred to as K-Middy). Oh, where is the new Susan Faludi? Where is the Backlash of the 21st century? Not here, that's for sure. Grotesquely mannered, woefully researched and bizarrely dated – the authors' major reference points seem to be the long debunked "nutritionist" Gillian McKeith and Naomi Wolf's The Beauty Myth, a book that was published in 1991 and has been talked about pretty much ever since – The Vagenda achieves the rare feat of patronising the very people it purports to support. No one takes women's magazines half as seriously as do Cosslett and Baxter. We're none of us half as gullible or stupid as they seem to think."

Read the full review
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
Reviews | Buy | Comment |
"Neither kooky or didactic: her narrative flits adeptly between registers, mixing pleasure and pain with all the naughty chutzpah of a chimp twizzling a feather duster." Liz Jensen, The Guardian VS "Plot is not the novel’s strongest suit. The wackiness that stumbles into the final chapters feels incongruous with the book’s poignancy and its serious themes." Ron Charles, The Washington Post
Vanishing  by Gerard Woodward
Reviews Buy | Comment |
"Evocative of a long-lost, little-known past, and always absorbing – in a word, a masterpiece" John Harding, The Daily Mail VS "Woodward doesn’t seem to know the value of brevity or economy.” The Scotsman
The Four Streets by Nadine Dorries
Reviews | Buy | Comment |
“This is pacey and readable, with its heart in the right place, though the writing is, at its best, workmanlike." Kate Saunders, The Times VS “After her remarkable flights from fact in her statements on abortion, it’s disappointing to find that Dorries is just not very good at making things up.” Sarah Ditum, New Statesman
Best of the rest
Telex From Cuba by Rachel Kushner, Shame and the Captives by Thomas Keneally, The Ballad of a Small Player by Lawrence Osborne, A God in Every Stone by Kamila Shamsie, Look Who’s Back by Timur Vermes, A Lovely Way to Burn by Louise Welsh, The Walk Home by Rachel Seiffert, These Are Our Children by Julie Maxwell, The Visionist by Rachel Urquhart
Pick of the paperbacks
All Change by Elizabeth Jane Howard, The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri, The Quarry by Iain Banks, A Delicate Truth by John le Carre
The People: The Rise and Fall of the Working Class 1910-2010 by Selina Todd
Reviews | Buy Comment |
"My feelings, after reading Selina Todd’s great book, is that a little salutary use of the guillotine wouldn’t go amiss as throughout our history 'birth mattered more than effort'" Roger Lewis, The Times VS "I don’t accept that the working classes have suffered a fall; but I do accept that they’ve been a huge disappointment to people like Selina Todd and her friends." Alan Johnson, The Spectator
Trials of Passion: Crimes in the Name of Love and Madness by Lisa Appignanesi
Reviews | Buy | Comment |
"Enthrallingly narrated, Appignanesi’s book compels with its gruesome subject matter and delights with a wealth of bizarre detail." Miranda Seymour, The Telegraph VS "I could have forgiven the leaden story-telling if there had been a coherent argument that linked the various trials, but by the end of the book I was still unclear why it had been written." Daisy Goodwin, The Sunday Times
The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World from Scratch by Lewis Dartnell
Reviews | Buy | Comment |

"...a terrifically engrossing history of science and technology" Steven Poole, The Guardian VS " is poorly structured, coming across as an increasingly boring list of how things work." Brian Appleyard, The Sunday Times
Best of the rest
Charlie Chaplin by Peter Ackroyd, The Muslims are Coming by Arun KundnaniParliament: The Biography (Volume 1) by Chris Bryant, Fragile by Design by Charles Calomiris and Stephen Haber
Pick of the paperbacks
Empires of the Dead by David Crane, Maggie & Me by Damian Barr


Radio 4's Bookclub with James Naughtie: John Banville discusses The Sea 

Radio 4 Extra: Elizabeth Jane Howard's Short Stories

Radio 4 Saturday Review: Kamila Shamsie discusses A God In Every Stone

Radio 4 Extra: Poseidon's Gold by Lindsey Davis

Radio 4 Front Row: Donna Tartt discusses The Goldfinch


The Glow by Helen Whapshott

Did you do much research into the paranormal before writing The Glow?
I grew up in a Spiritualist/Pagan household so a lot of the ideas about ghosts and spirits came from there. Being interested from a young age in the paranormal I read a lot of books and browsed the internet before I even considered writing the book. All the information has merged together — I can't remember where or when I've read it, or whether it's correct for that matter, so apologies to any werewolves or witches who read it!

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