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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Never Any End to Paris by Enrique Vila-Matas, translated by Anne McLean - book review: 'A struggle between nostalgia and irony in a fake memoir'

Enrique Vila-Matas's newly translated novel begins quite badly, but by the end of it I was fully seduced by its self-portrait of the artist as a young writer undergoing an exemplary apprenticeship in Paris. Vila-Matas is a much-garlanded Spanish novelist, and his books are some of the most bookish around. They feature scribblers and publishers as characters, and abound in references to writers both well- and lesser-known.

Dispute Over a Very Italian Piglet, by Amara Lakhous, trans. Ann Goldstein - book review: 'State-of-the-nation satire that brings home the bacon'

The piglet of the title, a "pure Piedmontese" called Gino, belongs to Joseph, the Nigerian neighbour of Enzo Laganà, a southern Italian journalist living up north in Turin. And the reason it's so very Italian is because it is causing a crisis in the neighbourhood, having been filmed running around inside the local mosque.

The Death of the Poet by N Quentin Woolf, book review: War story only adds dead weight to a daring debut

Themes of violence, despair and the limits of human responsibility churn through N Quentin Woolf's debut novel, the sizeable The Death of the Poet, right from the start. We've barely met the protagonist, a no-bullshit California talk-radio DJ called John Knox, before he's getting royally punched by one of his guests, the spiky historian Rachel McAllistair. Shortly after that he's falling irrecoverably in love with her, though like any self-respecting femme fatale she makes sure to warn him off – "I'm damaged goods," she says – before letting down her guard.

Dorothy Hodgkin: British chemist's birthday is celebrated with Google Doodle

Google has celebrated the British chemist Dorothy Hodgkin with a Doodle on its homepage.

Quiet Dell by Jayne Anne Phillips, book review: A clever twist on the true-crime genre puts the child victims at the heart of the story

True crime is one of the most resolutely unlikeable of genres: lurid and garish where it could be analytic and sympathetic, and usually more interested in the psychology of the killer than the life of the victim. No surprise when its originating model is Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, which detailed the murder of a family of Kansas farmers by a pair of paroled ex-convicts, but couldn't escape the author's fascination with the killers.

A Love Letter From a Stray Moon by Jay Griffiths - book review: 'Inspiring tale puts Frida the free spirit back in the picture'

Some writers treat each book as a separate beast, to be built or bred according to particular, individual principles. Others just keep writing the same endless book, letting the words flow out from a single source and barely acknowledging the boundaries of page and cover. Jay Griffiths is a writer of the second sort.

Orfeo by Richard Powers, book review: Music, germs and a touch of genius

Richard Powers has written about classical music before (in The Time of Our Singing and The Gold Bug Variations) and about genetics (in Generosity, and Gold Bug again). Yet it would be rash to say that this new novel is his most complete exploration of those themes, if only because he will probably go ahead and write an even more complete one.

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