Recommended Books

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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 Road to San Giovanni, Italo Calvino, Tr. Tim Parks, Cape, pounds 12.99. Sweet exercises in memory by the sunny Italian maestro. Winner of the Independent Foreign Fiction Award for October / November