Books: Recommended

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The Independent Culture
The Sorrow of War by Bao Ninh, translated by Frank Palmos, Secker, pounds 8.99. Winner of this year's pounds 10,000 Independent Foreign Fiction Award. A remarkable novel by a former North Vietnamese soldier.

One Art: Selected Letters of Elizabeth Bishop ed. Robert Giroux, Chatto. A moving selection of letters by one of America's finest poets. Review by Jamie McKendrick, 30 April.

The Bridge over the Drina by Ivo Andric, tr. Lovett F Edwards, Harvill pounds 8.99. A modern classic: four centuries in the life of a bridge near Sarajevo. Review by Hugo Barnacle, 16 April.

The Language Instinct by Steven Pinker, Allen Lane, pounds 20. Learned and witty analysis of the miraculous human urge to talk and write. Review by Robert Winder, 15 April.

Innocents in Africa by Drury Pifer, Granta, pounds 15.99. A tragic but warm evocation of racial bitterness in a memoir of South African childhood in the 1930s. Review by Doris Lessing, 7 May.