Recommended books

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The Independent Culture
The Death of Napoleon by Simon Leys, tr. Patricia Clancy, Quartet pounds 12.95. The Emperor returns to Europe to try and regain his former glory. A witty and inspired short novel which last week won the Independent Foreign Fiction Award for 1992.

Diderot: A Critical Biography by P N Furbank, Secker pounds 25. An authoritative portrait of the presiding Enlightenment genius. Review by Claude Rawson, 18 April.

Stalin's Nose by Rory Maclean, HarperCollins pounds 14.99. A powerful and touching account of travels in eastern Europe. Review by Jan Morris, 16 May.

Outerbridge Reach by Robert Stone, Deutsch pounds 14.99. A grand, adventurous novel about a man lost at sea. Interview by Scott Bradfield, 23 May.

Quartered Safe Out Here by George MacDonald Fraser, Harvill pounds 16. Strong and sprightly memoirs of wartime Burma. Review by Michael Fathers, 30 June.

Above the River by James Wright, Bloodaxe pounds 9.95. This acute collection is a fine memorial to the late American poet. Review by Lachlan Mackinnon, 11 July.

The Interior Castle by Jonathan Gathorne-Hardy, Sinclair-Stevenson pounds 25. An astute biography of Gerald Brenan and his passion for Spain. Review by David Gilmour, 18 July.

The Last Magician by Janette Turner Hospital, Virago pounds 14.99. The dazzling and elliptical tale of buried secrets in Sydney. Review by Robert Winder, 17 July.

Wagner: Race and Revolution by Paul Lawrence Rose (Faber pounds 20). A scathing portrait of the anti-Semitic strain in the composer's life and work. Review by Tim Jackson, 25 July.