BOOKS / Recommended

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The Independent Culture
Paddy and Mr Punch by R F Foster, Allen Lane, pounds 22.50. Romantic Ireland's dead and gone. Or is it? Review by G J Watson, 1 January.

Days of Anger by Sylvie Germain, Dedalus, pounds 8.99. Stirring epic of love and death in le foret profonde. Review by Robert Winder, 14 January.

Georges Perec: A Life in Words by David Bellos, Harvill, pounds 35. Ample and generous biography of the remarkable French novelist. Review by Hugo Barnacle, 11 December.

Travels with Virginia Woolf, edited by Jan Morris, Hogarth, pounds 17.99. Beautiful and eloquent extracts from Woolf's diaries and letters. Review by Natasha Walter, 12 January.

The Following Story by Cees Nooteboom, tr. Ina Rilke, Harvill, pounds 6.99. Witty novel about a man who goes to bed in Amsterdam and wakes in Lisbon. Winner of the Independent Foreign Fiction Award for December / January. Interview by Nick Caistor, 22 January.

The Sorrow of War by Bao Ninh, Secker & Warburg, pounds 8.99. Extraordinary novel by a North Vietnamese about the devastations of the war years. Review by Geoff Dyer, 29 January.