Jonathan Gibbs

Jonathan Gibbs reviews books for The Independent and elsewhere. His novel Randall, about the contemporary art world and the fate of the YBAs, is published by Galley Beggar Press. He blogs on this aspect of his writing at tinycamels.wordpress.com

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Friday Book Design Blog: The Ariel Poems, and other seasonal pamphlets

Christmas, Christmas, Christmas!

French writer Patrick Modiano is the author of almost 30 books since his debut novel in 1968

Suspended Sentences by Patrick Modiano, book review: A reanimation of times past

Modiano is as accessible as he is engrossing

Friday Book Design Blog: Nairn’s London

All book design – like all craft, all art – is a shuttling negotiation between tradition and experiment, the way it was and the way it might be. As a result, it might sometimes seem as if this blog is fixated with the retro mode in design, with books that look more than a little like books used to be, in the ‘good old days’.

Radio Benjamin Edited by Lecia Rosentha, book review: A new voice graces the airwaves

Walter Benjamin's work for radio finds the German thinker in beguiling form

Christopher Wren: Google Doodle celebrates birthday of St Paul's Cathedral architect

Wren, who was born on this day in 1632, is most famous for rebuilding 52 churches in the City of London following the Great Fire of 1666

Thor Heyerdahl: Google Doodle celebrates 100th birthday of explorer who headed the Kon-Tiki expedition

Norwegian ethnographer and explorer was born on this day in 1914

Clive Bell's Old Friends

Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante, trans. Ann Goldstein, book review

This is the third of Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan novels, a series of four books following two friends from their childhood in a poor Naples neighbourhood far into adult life, until one of them – Lila, the "brilliant friend" of the first book's title – decides to disappear "without a trace".

Twilight of the Eastern Gods, by Ismail Kadare, trans. David Bellos - book review: Soviet satire skilfully mixes the personal and the political

Ismail Kadare made his name as a forceful example of how to function as a writer under late communism. He trod a delicate line between censorship and lies by critiquing the Stalinism of Enver Hoxha's Albania through fable, allegory and historical transposition, sometimes throwing the dictator a bone, and escaping dissident status by virtue of his international success.

Iza's Ballad by Magda Szabo, trans. George Szirtes, book review: A Hungarian history of silence

Madga Szabó was one of Hungary's pre-eminent novelists, suppressed during the Stalinist years, but hugely popular once the stranglehold of Socialist Realism had been relaxed in the late 1950s. Szabó is best known in translation for her 1987 novel The Door, which has now been followed with this, originally published in 1963 under the title Pilátus, which for the life of me I can't parse. Is it something to do with Pontius Pilate: washing your hands of guilt? Corrupt authority?

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