BOOKS / Recommended

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Sentimental Journeys by Joan Didion, HarperCollins, pounds 15. Singular musings on the state of America. Review by Natasha Walter, 30 January.

Swing hammer swing] by Jeff Torrington, Secker & Warburg, pounds 8.99. Deep and affecting novel about Glasgow life, and winner of this year's Whitbread Prize. Interview by Marianne Brace, 30 January.

The Dictionary of National Biography, edited by C S Nicholls, Oxford, pounds 65. Expensive but marvellous compendium: more than a thousand lives rescued from oblivion. Review by Robert Winder, 30 January.

A Time to Speak by Helen Lewis, Blackstaff Press pounds 6.95. Remarkable autobiography of a Czech ballet teacher in the eye of the Holocaust. Review by Sue Gaisford, 14 November.

Shylock by John Gross, Chatto pounds 18. A scintillating study of a hero and villain over 400 years. Review by Barbara Everett, 10 October.

In The Highest Degree Odious by A W Brian Simpson, Clarendon Press pounds 35. A revelatory study of the British Government's use of detention without trial during the World War II. Review by Ian McIntyre, 2 January.

A Square of Sky by Janina David, Eland, pounds 8.99. Unputdownable 400-pager about the author's amazing survival in Nazi-occupied Poland. Review by Caroline Moorehead, 7 January.

I am the Clay by Chaim Potok, Heinemann, pounds 13.99. Dramatic and solemn novel describing a rescued boy's improvisations during the war in Korea. Review by Tim Jackson, 23 January.