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Hello everyone. Scroll down to find out what the critics are saying about the latest books, how origami will save bookshops and why accountants shouldn't be allowed to write about music - plus your chance to win Maggie O'Farrell's new book, Instructions for a Heatwave.

FICTION

Harvest by Jim Crace  Gone to the Forest  Blasphemy

HARVEST by Jim Crace
Grim reaper
'Harvest is as finely written as it is tautly structured ... Magnificently resurrecting a pivotal moment in our history about which it is deeply knowledgeable, this simultaneously elegiac and unillusioned novel is an achievement worthy to stand alongside those of Crace’s great fictional ­influence, William Golding.' Peter Kemp, Sunday Times


GONE TO THE FOREST by Katie Kitamura
Sons and lovers
'The cumulative effect of this shocking, desperate book is something that approaches magnificent,' Isabel Berwick, Financial Times VS 'Nearly every page is marred by a cliché, a passage of slack, vague language, or sentences too convoluted to understand.' Francine Prose, Sunday Times


BLASPHEMY by Sherman Alexie
Best of the Mohicans
'Roughly where the sensitive testosterone swagger of Junot Diaz meets the arch, laconic eye of Lorrie Moore.' Tom Cox, Observer VS 'The most disheartening aspect of this collection is the fact that, over 20 years, the jokes themselves haven’t changed.' Jess Row, New York Times

Best of the rest: THE BLIND MAN'S GARDEN by Nadeem Aslam, A WORKING THEORY OF LOVE by Scott Hutchins, THE MIDDLESTEINS by Jami Attenberg (listen to it on BBC Radio 4's Book at Bedtime), MARRY ME by Dan Rhodes
 
Paperback picks: WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT ANNE FRANK by Nathan Englander, SCENES FROM EARLY LIFE by Philip Hensher, THIS ISN'T THE SORT OF THING THAT HAPPENS TO SOMEONE LIKE YOU by Jon McGregor, NARCOPOLIS by Jeet Thayil

NON-FICTION

Give Me Everything You Have  Mad Girl's Love Song  Far from the tree

GIVE ME EVERYTHING YOU HAVE: ON BEING STALKED by James Lasdun
Enduring love
‘What is most riveting about this strange and unsettling book is not the grim fascination of Lasdun's situation; it's the moral intelligence and intensity with which he examines it.’ Mark O’Connell, Observer VS ‘…your sympathies, like mine, may drift from this acclaimed, secure, happily married novelist to worry about Nasreen … And Lasdun appears to have no curiosity about her fate.’ Janice Turner, The Times

MAD GIRL'S LOVE SONG: SYLVIA PLATH AND LIFE BEFORE TED by Andrew Wilson
Before the Bell Jar
‘…a refreshingly inquiring book … It has the tautness of the first act of a great tragedy, where we see the hand of fate moving the pieces into place.’ John Carey, Sunday Times VS ‘This book tries hard to cast new light, but is marred by banal writing and misprints, of which the most egregious is to call one of her best-known poems “Lazy Lazarus”.’ Anne Chisholm, Telegraph

'Passionate and affecting … It’s a book everyone should read and … there’s no one who wouldn’t be a more imaginative and understanding parent — or human being — for having done so.’ Julie Myerson, New York Times VS ‘Superbly researched but oddly problematic … Solomon writes eloquently about the empowering effects of subcultures formed through shared difference — but overall he neglects to address how they might reproduce the same limiting categories that oppress them.’ Laurence Scott, Financial Times
(Listen to it on BBC Radio 4's Book of the Week)

Best of the rest: HANDSOME BRUTE: THE STORY OF A LADY-KILLER by Sean O'Connor, THE FUN STUFF AND OTHER ESSAYS by James Wood,  LONDON BRIDGE IN AMERICA by Travis Elborough, THE EXAMINED LIFE by Stephen Grosz, BENJAMIN BRITTEN: A LIFE IN THE 20TH CENTURY by Paul Kildea

Paperback picks: THE ORIGINS OF SEX by Faramerz Dabhoiwala, TOGETHER: THE RITUALS, PLEASURES AND POLITICS OF CO-OPERATION  by Richard Sennett, LIVING, THINKING, LOOKING by Siri Hustvedt

HATCHET JOB OF THE WEEK

Telegraph reviewer Neil McCormick didn't warm to Prince Rupert Loewenstein after reading his memoir A Prince Among Stones:

'There is something tragically self-denying and wilfully ignorant about an educated man spending three decades on the road with the greatest band on earth and never enjoying a concert, or even approaching a glimmer of understanding of what remarkable forces are at work when these individuals play together. “Bartok it ain’t” is the best he can come up with in terms of critical insight. Maybe that’s what you get when you let an accountant write about music.'

THE OMNIMETER

Up: Canine aspirations
Last year the Evening Standard’s Get London Reading campaign encouraged bankers to give up an evening a week to read to deprived children. In Berkeley, California, they’re recruiting children to read to another culturally marginalised group: dogs. The Omnivore, which runs an internship scheme for puppies, thinks a similar project could work here. With illiteracy levels in London's canine community approaching 100%, schnauzer time to get dogs reading!

 Up: Mantel's millions
Proving there’s no such thing as bad publicity, Hilary Mantel’s fiction has stormed the Amazon charts, despite an endorsement from Nick Clegg in yesterday’s Sunday Times. Check out where you belong on the Wolf Hall Spectrum. And find out which Tudor shop-window mannequin you are with this Which of Henry VIII's wives are you? quiz.

 Up: Sexy librarians
Nice to see publishers continue to push literary boundaries. Instead of Twilight fan-fiction about a BDSM relationship between a young student and a wealthy CEO, The Submissive is Twilight fan-fiction about a BDSM relationship between a young librarian and a wealthy CEO. A more timely novel might have featured an ageing librarian and Ed Vaizey.

 
 Up: Fan-fan-fiction
Anyway, fan-fiction is so 2012. This year, it's all about fan-fan-fiction: While We Were Watching Downton Abbey is believed to be the first novel to focus on the lives of a group of Downton Abbey viewers. Reports an American publishing blog: 'This book could create an entirely new genre of novels about the lives of television fans.' We keenly await While We Were Watching #BBCQT, about an online romance sparked when two strangers agree that actually Peter Hitchens might have a point.
 

Down: Foyle's war
Only one in six adults reads for fun, 73 bookshops closed last year, and Amazon have been accused of employing NazisAmid the gloom, it's heartening to see Britain's book industry getting its act together with some blue-sky thinking on the future of bookshops. HarperCollins CEO Victoria Barnsley thinks booksellers should charge customers to browse, while ideas from a brainstorming session at the #FutureFoyles conference included turning bookshops into members-only clubs, a bibliotherapy floor, trips to vineyards, some origami, and — our favourite — (SPI)RiTUAL. Tax-dodgers will be quaking in their jackboots.
 

Down: Book reviewing
‘In much more than nine cases out of ten the only objectively truthful criticism would be “This book is worthless”, while the truth about the reviewer's own reaction would probably be “This book does not interest me in any way, and I would not write about it unless I were paid to.”’ Still time to catch George Orwell's Confessions of a Book Reviewer on BBC iPlayer.
 
 
WIN INSTRUCTIONS FOR A HEATWAVE

No, not a Baz Luhrmamn-style guide to the benefits of sunscreen, but Betty Trask and Somerset Maugham award-winner Maggie O'Farrell's latest novel.
 
It’s summer 1976 and London is sweltering. Robert Riordan tells his wife Greta he's off to buy a newspaper and never comes back. Tensions run high as a scattered family is drawn together, but no one suspects Greta might know more than she’s letting on.
 
Joanna Briscoe said in the Guardian, ‘There is a deliciousness to this novel, a warmth and readability that render it unputdownable and will surely make it a hit’ while the Independent’s Leyla Sanai celebrated the ‘sensuous pleasure of O'Farrell's insights and heady, evocative prose.’
 

We have three copies to give away (thanks, Headline) so for your chance to plunge into a seventies heatwave, answer this question: Name another novel by a British writer set during the summer of '76.

Email answers to competitions@theomnivore.co.uk by Monday 4 March.
 
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