Hits and misses: the Spanish novelist Jesús Carrasco. Photograph: Raquel Torres

Human suffering is one of literature’s enduring themes. When it involves the agony of children it becomes heightened and enters the realm of the unima(...)

Dada is a candid young woman with few delusions about her place in the world. She belongs to a lost generation and she knows it. Geographical dista(...)

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

Remember me? The intrepid Book Elf despatched from the North Pole days before Christmas by Santa Claus on a mission to source great books for disce(...)

 Mario Varga Llosa. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

There is nothing discreet about this leisurely, burlesque and ultimately polemical jaunt about greed, corruption and the sundry nasty stuff with which(...)

Katinka inhabits a passive trance; it was always like that. First she was a little girl, the youngest in her family. “While her father was still alive(...)

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

On this day of days, Irish people the world over celebrate and debate what would life be like if real snakes, of the reptilian rather than politica(...)

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

It all seems so simple. Young, childless Yeong-hye decides to renounce meat. Her husband, the narrator of the first part of this mind-blowing novel fr(...)

Pontus Beg is a police commissioner in Michailopol, a fictional small town somewhere in the Russian steppe. As a boy Beg used to dream of being old(...)

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

Jennifer Johnston is canny; her laconic narrators reveal her sophisticated grasp of the many faces of Irishness. Precision tempers her theatrical inst(...)

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.”

Charlotte Brooke is a woman without a face, at least in history. No portrait of this pioneering 18th-century scholar and literary translator is known.(...)