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 won the Independent Foreign Fiction Award for 1992.

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

Praying for Sheetrock by Melissa Fay Greene, Secker & Warburg pounds 9.99. A strong and tender account of the hard life on the tide-washed coast of Georgia in the American South. Review by Godfrey Hodgson, 1 August.

The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis by Jose Saramago, tr. Giovanni Pontiero, Harvill pounds 7.99. An enthralling Portuguese drama blending high seriousness with an absurd sense of humour. Review by Robert Winder, 7 August.