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.

Outerbridge Reach by Robert Stone, Deutsch pounds 14.99. A grand, adventurous novel about a man trying to answer the riddles of existence by getting lost at sea. Interview by Scott Bradfield, 23 May.

Above the River by James Wright, Bloodaxe pounds 9.95. This acute and vulnerable 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.

Wagner: Race and Revolution by Paul Lawrence Rose, Faber pounds 20. A scathing and controversial 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 life 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 about the poet Fernando Pessoa, blending high seriousness with wit and farce. Review by Robert Winder, 7 August.