Recommended Books

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The Independent Culture
The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis by Jose Saramago tr. Giovanni Pontiero, Harvill pounds 7.99. An enthralling Portuguese drama mixing high seriousness with wit and farce. Winner of the Independent Foreign Fiction Award for July / August.

The Rituals of Dinner by Margaret Visser, Viking pounds 17.99. Minute social history served up with relish and style. Review by Robert Winder, 4 September.

Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby, Gollancz pounds 13.99. A football fan muses brilliantly on his life and obsession. Review by Pete Davies, 12 September.

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.

A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley, Flamingo pounds 5.99. Powerful prizewinning novel which plants King Lear in rural Iowa. Review by Anthony Quinn, 17 October.

Ottoline Morrell by Miranda Seymour, Hodder pounds 25. At last, a biography of the Bloomsberries that knows where the warts were. Review by Sue Gaisford, 10 October.

Shylock by John Gross, Chatto pounds 18. Scintillating and knowledgeable study of Shylock's 400-year cultural life. Review by Barbara Everett, 10 October.

Omeros by Derek Walcott, Faber pounds 9.99. Stunning epic poem which recreates the Homeric stories on a Caribbean island, by the 1992 Nobel laureate.