BOOKS: we recommend...

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The Independent Culture
Gridiron by Philip Kerr (Chatto and Windus, pounds 14.99). Brilliant thriller about a computerised building that turns into a killing machine.

A Great Task of Happiness: The Life of Kathleen Scott by Louisa Young (Macmillan, pounds 20). Exuberant biography of the flamboyant sculptor wife of Scott of the Antarctic.

Incidents in the Rue Laugier by Anita Brookner (Cape, pounds 14.99). Love and disappointment in an elegant French setting. A delicate, sober novel.

Dear George by Helen Simpson (Heinemann, pounds 12.99). Beautifully detailed short stories that conjure magic out of everyday life.

Best of Enemies: Anglo-French Relations Since the Norman Conquest by Robert Gibson (Sinclair-Stevenson, pounds 25). Engaging history of the long, feuding cross-channel love affair.

Heathcliff and the Great Hunger by Terry Eagleton (Verso, pounds 19.50). Witty, challenging exploration of Irish literature.

The Babel Guide to Italian Fiction in English Translation by Ray Keenoy and Fiorenza Conte (Boulevard, pounds 7.95). Brief biogs of authors, plus useful summaries of their books.

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