Archives: Book Reviews

Congratulations to the lovely Emma Healey

On the publication of her debut novel Elizabeth is Missing. It’s already receiving some rather marvellous reviews and Jonathan Coe described it as One of those semi-mythical beasts, the book you cannot put down”. 

Elizabeth-is-Missing-final-UK-cover-copyMeet Maud … ‘Elizabeth is missing’, reads the note in Maud’s pocket in her own handwriting. Lately, Maud’s been getting forgetful. She keeps buying peach slices when she has a cupboard full, forgets to drink the cups of tea she’s made and writes notes to remind herself of things. But Maud is determined to discover what has happened to her friend, Elizabeth, and what it has to do with the unsolved disappearance of her sister Sukey, years back, just after the war. A fast-paced mystery with a wonderful leading character: Maud will make you laugh and cry, but she certainly won’t be forgotten. (Find out more on Waterstones)


Isn’t that a pretty cover?

It’s a really wonderful book. Cleverly constructed, emotionally truthful and absolutely gripping, Elizabeth is Missing deserves all the praise it’s getting.

You can buy Elizabeth is Missing online, or you can pop into your local bookshop.


 Emma modelling her wonderful book.

healey_launch_groupAll of us looking excited.

The Restless Supermarket

The-Restless-Supermarket-RGB-300x457By Ivan Vladislavic

It is 1993, and Aubrey Tearle’s world is shutting down. He has recently retired from a lifetime of proofreading telephone directories. His favourite neighbourhood haunt in Johannesburg, the Café Europa, is about to close its doors; the familiar old South Africa is already gone. Standards, he grumbles, are in decline, so bad-tempered, conservative Tearle embarks on a grandiose plan to enlighten his fellow citizens. The results are disastrous, hilarious and poignant.

A classic novel about the post-apartheid era, brimming with surprising perspectives, urban satire, riotous imagery and outrageous wordplay. Vladislavić’s tour de force was awarded the South African Sunday Times Fiction Prize. (Find out more on And Other Stories.)


I’ve only just started reading this, but I read Vladislavic’s novel Double Negative last year and adored it. I’m 34 pages in, and I’m already tweeting about it, which is a very good sign.

Oh, and if you’d like the opinion of a proper writer:


(Teju Cole is the author of Open City.)

Anyways, if you’re at all interested in South African politics or apartheid* you should probably read The Restless Supermarket.



PS. I just finished The Vacationers by Emma Straub and that was pretty good too. More later…

PPS. I started reading it almost a week ago, and am now reading it in small, succulent bites. I want to savour it.

*Or ‘apart-hate’, as in The Wasp Factory

© 2021 Rowan Whiteside