The Shahnameh by Abolqasem Ferdowsi [A Review]

The Shahnameh, the Persian Book of Kings, is an epic poem composed by Abolqasem Ferdowsi in the late-tenth century, early-eleventh century. It chronicles Persia’s legendary and historical past, through the lives of its kings, from the creation of the world to the seventh-century Arab conquest that brought Islam to Persia. It has been described as…

Staying On by Paul Scott [A Review]

Staying On by Paul Scott is a wonderful little novel, a Booker Prize Winner and, having read Scott’s Raj Quartet, a novel that has changed what I thought of Scott’s writing. In the garden of Smith’s Hotel in Pankot, India, Tusker Smalley lies dead from an apparent heart attack. In his hand he still clutches…

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen [A Review]

Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen’s first published novel, appears to be a straightforward romance. Men and women of contrasting and complimenting character are thrown together, but, the chances of love are thwarted by the social conventions of the period that prevent honesty and openness and instead breed duplicity and secrecy. But, on reflection, Sense and…

Wild Swans by Jung Chang [A Review]

Wild Swans is, simply put, a masterpiece. It is a memoir of three generations of author Jung Chang’s family, principally told around the lives of her grandmother, mother and herself. Though I could not find confirmation, it is by some accounts the highest-selling memoir of all time with sales variously reported as being between 10-15…

Book Review: God is Not Great

The late Christopher Hitchens had a long and varied career as a political and social commentator and journalist known for his exceptional ability as a polemicist. In his later life, he was best known as one of the ‘Four Horseman’ following the publication of God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. Like much to…

Book Review: Next Year in Jerusalem

A foreign superpower occupies the Holy Land. Insurgency is on the rise. Terrorists attack foreign soldiers and immigrants as well as any locals found to be complying with the occupiers or deemed to be in violation of their strict interpretation of religious laws. A new man has been appointed to govern the land and quash…