From Slovenia comes this difficult but rewarding tale of a child who goes through life suffering and surviving the sins of his fat(...)

After Oxford, Richard Adams joined the civil service, rising to become assistant secretary in the department of environment. Trivia fans should note that Adams was a co-author of the Clean Air Act (1968). Photograph: Getty Images

The civil servant turned author’s staunch yeoman-like disposition helped him through early rejections, making one suspect that th(...)

Photograph: Getty Images

This clumsy debut novel never for a moment convinces in its setting, characters or conflict, says Eileen Battersby

London bobbies struggle to hold back surging crowd of Londoners massed in Parliament Square on VE Day, signalling end to WWII in Europe. Photograph: Getty Images/Bob Landry

Eileen Battersby: Europe’s streets lined with people too exhausted by six years of grief

A still from the 1930 Hollywood film of All Quiet on the Western Front, starring future Hollywood pacifist Lew Ayres as Paul Bäumer

‘We have become wild beasts. We do not fight, we defend ourselves against annihilation . . . ’ Erich Maria Remarque’s unmatchable (...)

Jennifer Johnston’s How Many Miles to Babylon? – Nomad Theatre stage version including  Fergal McElherron and Sam Peter Corry – represented important attempts to re-examine the first World War and its legacy. Photograph: Colm Henry

War writing at heart is about the ambivalence of loyalty to class, nation, and friends, and of belief and the business of being hu(...)

Shaken to the core by the memoirs of Primo Levi, a father of two obsesses over the Levis’ tiny Auschwitz prisoner in this urgent, (...)

To mark Freedom Day in South Africa, the Irish Times literary correspondent offers her selection of its finest literary works

A British soldier paying his respects in 1915 at the grave of a colleague near Cape Helles,  where the Gallipoli landings took place. Photograph: PA

The tragedy in the Dardanelles was not memorialised as much in fiction as the Western Front but there are still many books and poe(...)

Review: Lively coming-of-age novel with likeable, well-developed characters and convincing dialogue

Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare and Jane Austen: never mind the rampaging imperialism, says Eileen Battersby, feel the quality of England’s cultural heritage

Eileen Battersby marks St George’s Day with a kaleidoscopic celebration of our noisy neighbour’s contribution to world culture

Sixty-year-old absurdist comedy in the Civil Service remains as fresh as ever

Colum McCann: he is the only previous Impac winner on the shortlist, having won in 2011 for ‘Let the Great World Spin’. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Themes of war and real life dominate Dublin Literary Award shortlist

David Bennent as Oskar in Volker Schlöndorff’s 1979 film adaptation of The Tin Drum: “If there has to be the single greatest novel of the twentieth century, with all respect to James Joyce’s Ulysses and William Gaddis’s The Recognitions, this raucously mercurial debut could well be it”

The Tin Drum combines history, horror story, burlesque cartoon and satiric fable with vibrant, subversive imagery. Stylistically i(...)

Books written by German novelist and Nobel Prize winner Günter Grass at the  Dussmann book and media store in Berlin. John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images

Start with the Danzig trilogy which includes Günter Grass’s majestic ‘The Tin Drum’

Günter Grass: darkly exuberant, experimental fiction

Günter Grass changed the way writers wrote fiction and challenged the way we look at the world

In Dada, the Croatian writer Olja Savičević has created a compelling witness who is also a survivor, not particularly heroic, but (...)

Hoot Owl – Master of Disguise by Sean Taylor, illustrated by Jean Jullien

The Irish Times literary correspondent channels her inner Book Elf to pick her favourite new children’s books

 Mario Varga Llosa. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Review: a lame-footed novel romp from a revered Nobel Laureate

The tragedy of one woman’s life shimmers with an unsettling resonance

World -class literature: James Joyce’s Ulysses might well take more than a day to read, unless a reader wishes to turn a day’s reading into a vigil without meals. Yet there is a stupendous feast of shorter books, novels and short stories, awaiting and all to be enjoyed at a leisurely pace in one day. Photograph: Frank Miller

The Irish Times literary correspondent offers her reading list to celebrate our national day

Han Kang (above) doesn’t waste a word as she tells the story

A savagely beautiful story of humanity crushed underfoot

A Russian cop holds on to his humanity in this heartfelt novel from a Dutch master

 Jennifer Johnston: Betrayal, hatred and the first World War have been major themes in her work. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Celebrating Irish women writers: ‘Jennifer Johnston is canny; her laconic narrators reveal her sophisticated grasp of the many fac(...)

Charlotte Brooke: No portrait of this pioneering 18th-century scholar and literary translator is known. In her preface to Reliques of Irish Poetry, Brooke wrote: “…it is really astonishing of what various and comprehensive powers this neglected language [Irish] is possessed. In the pathetic, it breathes the most beautiful and affecting simplicity; in the bolder species of composition, it is distinguished by a force of expression, a sublime dignity, and rapid energy, which is scarcely possible for any translator fully to convey; as it sometimes fills the mind with ideas altogether new, and which, perhaps, no modern language is entirely prepared to express.”

Celebrating Irish women writers: ‘in translating the work of the Gaelic poets into English, she was to influence Thomas Moore and (...)

 Dylan Thomas (1914-1953) in 1946: Mere mention of Wales for many is sufficient to ponder on the greatness of Dylan Thomas, a wayward genius whose eloquent fury continues to beguile, excite and inspire. Photograph: Picture Post / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Eileen Battersby looks at and beyond the three great Thomases – Dylan, RS and Gwyn – to celebrate the rich literary tradition of o(...)

Booker-winner Ishiguro’s new novel, apparently set in post-Roman Britain, is a muddle wrapped in an enigma dunked in an allegory, (...)

 Amit Chaudhuri: “a master of the slow-moving meditation”.  Photograph by Ulf Andersen/Getty Images

Review: A witty, delicate new novel covering one day in the life of an Indian student in London pays homage to Joyce and Homer (...)

Saskia Reeves and Donal McCann taking a break from the shooting of the film December Bride in Anglesea Street, Dublin in 1989. Photograph: Paddy Whelan/The Irish Times

25 years after the release of the film version of Sam Hanna Bell’s book, Eileen Battersby examines one of Ireland’s finest novels(...)

Paperback review

Anne Tyler. Photograph: Diane Waler

It may be a mixed bag, but the American writer’s 20th novel offers moments of stark profundity

Rabih Alameddine’s novel, both clever and pretentious, is set in a maddeningly Americanised sitcom version of the Middle East

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee was published in 1960. It was immediately successful, winning the Pulitzer Prize, and has become a classic of modern American literature.

Lee makes it obvious it is not Robinson on trial, but the racism of the American South

 Harper Lee will publish her second novel, ‘Go Set a Watchman’, 60 years after the Pulitzer Prize-winning ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. Photograph: Getty

‘New’ novel preceded Lee’s classic but was not published at the time

Laird Hunt: reinvigorates the American language with a poetic urgency equal to Toni Morrison’s Beloved

Laird Hunt’s staggering novel is ‘The Odyssey’ reimagined as one woman’s journey into the heart of darkness

Two women sit among the debris in the aftermath of the German bombardment of Leningrad in 1942. Photograph: D Trakhtenberg/ Slava Katamidze Collection/ Getty Images

On the anniversary of the end of the siege of Leningrad, Eileen Battersby celebrates a book that captures the heroism and misery o(...)

Primo Levi: “My Jewish identity took on a great importance following my deportation to Auschwitz. It is very likely that without Auschwitz I would never have written, and would have given only a little weight to my Jewish identity.”  He wrote in order to tell the world what happened. In time he would come to resent the literary world that regarded him not as an artist, only as witness. Photograph: Getty Images

Eileen Battersby recalls the day she met Primo Levi and assesses his career

David Malouf: poet and storyteller, he is one of the world’s finest writers and the surest way to experience his rare art is to simply read all of his elegant, graceful work. Photograph: Michael Stuparyk / Toronto Star via Getty Images

To mark Australia Day, our Literary Correspondent celebrates her literary wizards of Oz

Jenny Williams: the Dublin-based academic explored Hans Fallada’s life and motivations  in an outstanding biography, More Lives Than One, which was published in 1998 and in a revised edition drawing on additional material in 2012. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Irish academic Jenny Williams played a key role

Not just a pawn: Hans Fallada

Novelist’s daring chronicle provides a keyhole view of the daily paranoia of life under the Nazis

Seek out a copy of The Adventures of Shola by the Basque writer Bernardo Atxaga who wrote it in Euskera before translating the four individual stories into Spanish. Mikel Valverde’s illustrations are most expressive and the English translation comes courtesy of the great Margaret Jull Costa. If anything can succeed in hauling us through this most blue day of dark days, it is this book

Today is the most depressing day of the year. So what you need is a good book about a dog

Spy thriller is a labour of loyalty to the underrated and original Johnson

Photograph: Viktor Gårdsäter

Review: A bland Scandinavian debut novel about a failing marriage – and a hamster – demonstrates just how difficult it can be for (...)

Detail from Turner’s ‘A light in the Darkness’. Photograph: Alan Betson,

Every January Turner’s watercolours are put on show as requested in Henry Vaughan’s bequest

Donal McCann as Francis Hardy in the 1980 Irish premiere of ‘Faith Healer’ by Brian Friel, directed by Joe Dowling on Abbey stage. Photograph Fergus Bourke

Interactive website celebrates National Theatre’s achievements

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all the through the house . . .’

 Deirdre and Amber Hogan from Co Wicklow, part of the group  in the chamber at the Newgrange Monument on the morning of Winter Solstice for sun rise. The inclement weather obsqured the sunlight from entering the chamber. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Tenacious dogs, Santa hats and surly teens on hand for sunrise on misty Solstice day

A brilliantly deadpan take on modern-day office life

Alexander Pushkin: among his many literary talents was a flair for characterisation. Photograph: Universal/Getty

A founding text of the 19th century Russian novel, this is high art at its most effortless

Wonderful: from Maia and What Matters, published by Book Island

French stories based on artworks by Chagall, Picasso, Degas and Monet; Italian retellings of Gulliver, Captain Nemo and Antigone; (...)

To accompany this beautiful short film by Ana Godinho de Matos (Chameleoneye Films) our Literary Correspondent Eileen Battersby re(...)

Georges Perec’s debut is virtuosic in execution and is not merely a curiosity for scholars. Photograph: Louis Monier/Gamma-Rapho/Getty

Review: Much-loved French writer’s rejected first novel is finally published

Self-portrait by Tove Jansson, creator of the Moomin characters. © Moomin Characters™

Eileen Battersby celebrates the independent Finnish spirit, from Tove Jansson to Kristina Carlson and Oscar Parland

The Zone of Interest, by Martin Amis (Cape): Still the bravest of contemporary British writers, Amis for once suppresses his linguistic panache and attempts to make sense of the impossible by means of an unlikely love story set in a Nazi concentration camp

Our Literary Correspondent picks her favourite titles from a year’s reading

Robert Redford as Jay Gatsby and Mia Farrow as Daisy, in the 1974 film version of The Great Gatsby. As a parable of innocence corrupted, written by the doomed F Scott Fitzgerald at his most inspired, iit s difficult to surpass. Photograph: AP

The Irish Times Literary Correspondent celebrates Thanksgiving with a list of her favourite US fiction

Italian Impac longlister is an earthy family epic, larger than life and cheekily humorous

Former winner Colum McCann has had his book Transatlantic submitted for consideration. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Books nominated by public libraries for consideration include 142 novels

Hanne Orstavik

This offputtingly odd, coolly daring Scandi novel is less laughable but far funnier than anything Mr Grey might get up to

Gough Whitlam: dismissed as Australian prime minister by a governor-general “acting on a nudge” from the US. Photograph: Graeme Fletcher/Keystone/Getty

Review: The United States is definitely not the good guy in Peter Carey’s latest novel, a satirical burlesque that seethes with be(...)

Nick Frost as  John Self in a 2010 BBC adaptation of Money

Eileen Battersby celebrates the 30th anniversary of a virtuoso satire

Review: Life beyond politics during Spain’s bloody civil war

The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass

Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to a church door 497 years ago today. Now Eileen Battersby nails her German colours to the mast(...)

Michael Hordern in a BBC adaptation of MR James’s Oh Whistle and I’ll Come to You My Lad

You may be too old to go trick or treating, but are you brave enough to read one of these tales before you go to sleep tonight?

Dylan Thomas (1914-1953): while  best-known as a poet, he was also a talented prose writer. Photograph: Picture Post/Hulton Archive

Centenary of the birth of the Welsh poet, who ‘manages to juxtapose the sonorous tones of the pulpit with the intimate squeak of a(...)

Hurricane Sandy: the most prevailing smell in the book is of the materials that householders use to repair damage. Photograph: Debra L Rothenberg/Getty

The great American writer’s new book is a slight one for him – but it’s a welcome return for Frank Bascombe

‘I am delighted; it’s such an honour. I never expected it, but to tell you the truth, it’s great to get the money’

The Tasmanian’s novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North, about Australian POWs doomed to build the Burma Death Railway, is the fir(...)

Daniel Kehlmann. Photograph: Sven Paustian

Review: A hilarious, often touching novel about a faulty father’s effect on his sons

Richard Flanagan who won this year’s Man Booker Prize. Photograph: Ulf Andersen/Chatto & Windus/PA Wire

‘The Narrow Road to the Deep North’ is a powerful and sometimes brutal love story

Norwegian author Per Petterson. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Review: In charting a life of losses, this novel has much to say about the struggle to make sense of existence

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Marilynne Robinson. Photograph: Getty

Review: ‘She is concerned with the ways in which families evolve; the lore, the back history, the hurts and the secrets.’

Ian McEwan: efficiently infiltrates the legal world and its hierarchy of clever debate conducted upon the chessboard of the law, but his novel is knowing and corny. Photograph: Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

Review: the chillingly formidable author has produced an ill-judged study of a legal mind

Keira Knightley (Cecilia) and James McAvoy (Robbie Turner) in Atonement

Five of the best, and three of the worst


Review: A young Hungarian painter gives an astonishingly vivid account of his time on the Eastern Front

Rare writer: Wolfgang Koeppen. Photograph: Brigitte Friedrich

Review: An autobiographical novel by Wolfgang Koeppel, one of Germany’s great postwar writers, gets a brilliant translation

Martin Amis: holding a mirror up to the death camps. Photograph: Alan Betson

Martin Amis is a deeply moral writer with a Swiftian vigour. In his latest novel, ‘The Zone of Interest’, he returns to the story (...)

Presences: a Mexican Day of the Dead procession. Photograph: John and Lisa Berrill/Image Bank/Getty

Ghostly voices and visions propel Juan Rolfo’s masterpiece about a quest to find a tyrannical father

 TH White  kept a record of the many trials and frustrations and ultimate failure at training his goshawk, Gos. White remained relatively stoical and always loved the wild, enigmatic bird. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

An Irishwoman’s Diary on the eccentric logic of the writer of ‘The Once and Future King’

Jérôme Ferrari: displays an unnerving grasp of the ways humans continually fail each other and themselves. Photograph: Jacques Demarthon/AFP/Getty Images

Review: Jérôme Ferrari’s Corsican saga stretches across generations and draws on both history and human experience

 Castle Leslie estate is a mecca for horse riding enthusiasts and has its own equestrian centre

The relaxed independence of Castle Leslie Estate, in Co Monaghan, is a paradise for horse lovers, who can even bring their mount o(...)

Offbeat appeal: Gaito Gazdanov

Russian writer’s whacky but charming novel has shades of Dostoyevsky

Martin Amis: “Shaping art from horror and reality.” Photograph: David Levenson/Getty Images

Review: A brave, humane novel, set in a concentration camp, takes a hard look the attrocities of the second World War

  Tim Parks: the same distance that has kept him out of the London literary set has kept his writing fresh

Tim Parks never wanted to become ‘Mr Italy’ but as an Englishman living in Verona he’s found himself explaining the country to th(...)

Tove Jansson in the 1950s. Photograph: Alf Lidman

An Irishwoman’s Diary about the great writer Tove Jansson

Intuitive observer: Magda Szabó. Photograph: Magyar Nemzet/AFP/Getty

Review: A heartbreakingly beautiful English translation of a 1963 novel by a gifted Hungarian writer is bound to be one of the ye(...)

 Colette at work about 1940. Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The great French writer Colette was the first French woman to be given a state funeral - although she was denied a Catholic one be(...)

Postwar Japan: depressed and in need of some morale-building. Photograph: Orlando/Three Lions/Getty

Review: A melancholic wisdom distinguishes two novels by Yasushi Inoue, one of the 20th century’s literary lights

Iron Gustav is the story of one man, but it is also a vivid, atmospheric portrait of Berlin, showing how the war affected its citizens. Photograph: Roger Viollet/Getty Images

Review: Finally available in its complete form, Hans Fallada’s tome is a masterful study of dire adversity

Joseph O’Neill’s novel The Dog, due to be published in September, will be one of the year’s most eagerly awaited books. Photograph: Zak Hussein/PA Wire

Australian writer Richard Flanagan’s war novel ‘The Narrow Road to the Deep North’ deserves to win the prize

Review: De Vigan asks for nothing – not even our sympathy

 Tomás González:  the genius of the Colombian writer’s book In The Beginning Was The Sea lies lies in the telling. Photograph: Juan Carlos Sierra

Review: A pitch-perfect translation adds to the Patricia Highsmith-like menace of this debut novel

 Nuala Goodman, designer and  curator, installing “Meditation on Plates , inspired by Lord Charlemont’s Casino”, a limited edition of 38 plates by artists, architects and designers, which will open on  July 13th and run until  October 31st at the Casino in Marino in conjunction with the Office of Public Works. Photograph: Alan Betson

Dublin’s famous neo classical villa at Marino provides inspiration for the artists

Romesh Gunesekera, above, is “graced with a poet’s vision and an abiding sense of justice”. Photograph: Getty Images

Review: Romesh Gunesekera’s post-war Sri Lankan taxi driver is mouthy but likeable in a book that will draw a new generation of r(...)

Colin Barrett: hidden and at times disturbing depths lurk beneath the surface bravado. Young Skins was published in Britain last spring by Jonathan Cape.

Barrett is just second Irish winner of the €25,000 prize, after Edna O’Brien

American novelist Edmund White photographed in Dublin in June 2014. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Candour and honesty define the life and work of Edmund White, the prolific American novelist with a genius for expressing the ago(...)

Review: a ponderous, profound novel

Teffi watched, listened well and remembered: Russian writer and satirist Nadeja Alexandrovna Lokhvitskaya (1872-1952), pictured in Paris, about 1920.  Photograph: Choumoff/Roger Viollet/Getty Images

Review: A Russian satirist , who met both Rasputin and Tolstoy, provides a singular insight into her era

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