Umbrella, By Will Self


From the First World War to the 1970s and beyond, Self's rich Modernist triptych carries his prowess in fiction to a new level.

The "sleeping sickness" of the 1920s, the fashions and fantasies of psychiatry as negotiated by Self's serial shrink Dr Zach Busner, and the headlong, inhuman momentum of a mechanised century: all propel a story of selfhood - and society - in crisis that finds its analogue in a fractured, triple-level narrative.

It can be demanding, yes - but lyrical, funny and bitterly beautiful as well.