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A Possible Life, by Sebastian Faulks. Vintage , £7.99


Faulks’s new work is made up of two novellas, and three short stories. Their settings include a 21st-century laboratory, a Victorian workhouse and a 1970s recording studio.

Each story shows off his narrative gifts, but each feels unusually compressed. This is particularly true of the opener, “A Different Man” – the grim tale of a cricket-loving officer forced to shovel  body parts in a Nazi camp. These semi-interlocking stories illustrate just how  “atomic” reverberations continue to shudder down the years:  “I think we’re all in this thing, like it or  not, for ever.”