Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0015701, Sat, 24 Nov 2007 23:19:45 -0500

Top writers select their favourite seasonal reads ...


Christmas books past, present and future: Part one
Top writers select their favourite seasonal reads Saturday November 24, 2007The Guardian
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William Boyd

Vladimir Nabokov's Speak, Memory (Penguin) is one of the great autobiographies, with possibly one of the most beguiling and thought-provoking opening pages ever. As hypersensitive to the nuances of his privileged upbringing in pre-revolutionary Russia as he is to the strictures of his en- forced exile in Europe afterwards, Nabokov tells his extraordinary story in a prose of unrivalled lyricism and sumptuousness.

Peter Pist'anek's novel Rivers of Babylon (Garnett Press) is an astonishing find. Brilliantly translated from Slovak by Peter Petro, this story of a small-town loser turned enterprising bravura gangster in post-communist Slovakia is fuelled with formidable energy and ice-cool satire. It displays a fierce black humour that is both ruthless and exhilarating.

I've been lucky enough to read Hanif Kureishi's superb new novel Something to Tell You (Faber). Not available until March, it possesses all of Kureishi's soulful mordancy and wry, demotic humour. No one else casts such a shrewd and gimlet eye on contemporary life. And I'm hugely looking forward to James Meek's new novel We Are Now Beginning Our Descent (Canongate), out in February.

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Christmas books past, present and future: Part twoChristmas books past, present and future: Part three

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