Snuff, By Terry Pratchett
The Wandering Falcon, By Jamil Ahmad
Alan Turing: The Enigma, By Andrew Hodges
Thinking, Fast And Slow, By Daniel Kahneman
Jubilee, By Shelley Harris

Paperback reviews of the week

Snuff, By Terry Pratchett
Corgi £7.99
**

On the evidence of this novel, Terry Pratchett's Alzheimer's has not yet significantly eroded his creative capacities, for which we must be thankful. This exhibits all the humour and inventiveness of his previous 38 Discworld novels. However, I'm sorry to say that I've never been a fan, although I know he has plenty of admirers, AS Byatt among them. Snuff is the story of hardbitten but decent copper Sam Vines, who takes a holiday from Ankh-Morpork to play country squire, but finds himself involved in a case involving smuggling, murder and slave traffic in goblins. It's full of comic periphrasis and facetiously archaic words ("aforesaid", "endeavour"); characters have an annoying tendency to speechify and the running gags don't so much run as periodically wallop you over the head. The characters seem to be composites drawn from stock – Vines's butler Willikins has a distinct air of Campion's butler Lugg in Margery Allingham's detective stories, though at times his diction seems to owe something to Jeeves. There's also a sharp-eyed lady writer who is a Discworld version of Jane Austen, and a cameo from Wee Mad Arthur Nac Mac Feegle, the violent drunken six-inch Scottish gnome. It's not my cup of tea I'm afraid, but it's well-plotted, eminently readable and Pratchett's heart is clearly in the right place. Those who enjoy his work will most certainly enjoy this.

 

The Wandering Falcon, By Jamil Ahmad
Penguin £8.99
****

Jamil Ahmad's literary debut (published when he was 78) is a collection of linked short stories, set in the harsh, mountainous region between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The eponymous wandering falcon (Tor Baz) is an infant in the first story, orphaned when both his parents are murdered in an honour killing in accordance with tribal law. Each story tells of a new stage in his life as he wanders through the region, meeting warlords, mullahs, and prostitutes. Ahmad's spare prose captures the stony beauty of the landscape – and the stony cruelty of the culture. Ahmad neither judges nor sentimentalises but simply shows this soon-to-disappear world, where tribe is more important than state and honour more important than life. The stories have the power and simplicity of fables.

 

Alan Turing: The Enigma, By Andrew Hodges
Vintage £10.99
****

First published in 1983, this biography was reprinted to mark the centenary of Turing's birth and, as Hodges's new preface makes clear, Turing's importance is now even more apparent. Turing is a superb subject for a biography: mathematician of genius who helped break the German codes during the Second World War and who, essentially, invented the computer, archetypal eccentric scientist (even at Bletchley Park he was nicknamed the Prof), and marathon runner (he could have made the British Olympic team in 1948, but an injury ruled him out). Prosecuted in 1952 for homosexual acts, he killed himself in 1954 by eating an apple dipped in cyanide. Hodges's biography is sensitive, sympathetic and uncompromisingly intellectual. The maths is extremely hard work – but helps the lay reader to appreciate the scale of Turing's achievements.

 

Thinking, Fast And Slow, By Daniel Kahneman
Penguin £8.99
****

Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman argues that each of us contains (at least) two characters: System 1, an unreasoning self that makes snap judgements, and System 2, a reflective self that makes slow, effortful calculations. Mostly we cruise along in System 1 mode, which gets us by, but for some decisions, like those connected with risk assessment, System 2 is a more accurate, if counter-intuitive guide. Kahneman wants us to employ System 2 more often; he'd like us to learn and use such terms as the Endowment Effect, Anchors, Framing, and Reversion to the Mean in watercooler conversations. It's clever, clear, and it convinced me. Next time I'm at a watercooler, this book will inform my conversation ("Of course Germany didn't play so well in the semi-final – it's reversion to the mean").

 

Jubilee, By Shelley Harris
Phoenix £7.99
****

Satish is a successful cardiologist who, 30 years earlier, was in a photograph that came to be seen as an icon of Britishness: a young Asian boy at a Silver Jubilee street party in 1977, surrounded by white kids and Union Jacks.

The photo has been endlessly reproduced and used in album covers, so that Satish has a kind of unwanted Seven Up fame. Now they want to re-take the photograph with all the original participants – but for Satish this prospect awakens memories too painful to confront. It's an extremely well-crafted story that works both as a study of Satish's struggle to conquer his demons, and of the growing pains of modern, multi-cultural Britain.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

books
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher in the eleventh season of Two and a Half Men

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

    Take a good look while you can

    How climate change could wipe out this seal
    Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

    Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

    Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes