New Jersey stands in for Algeria, not that Frank Bascombe would have noticed, living the good life and everything’s okay and nothing bears too much looking into – like the giant chasm of nothingness opening up beneath his feet. With guest appearances from Steinbeck, Faulkner and AC himself.

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In the quiet Jura region of France, a physician goes completely haywire in a series of crimes that are hard for his friends and acquaintances to grasp. But then their grasp loosens further. And disappears altogether. Because the man at the centre, the man they thought they knew, turns out to be a dangerous and…

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Tender Asher Lev has a gift – he can draw exceptionally well – and a drive to be an artist. Everyone around him has a drive to make him into a leader in the Ladover Hasidic community, spreading the word of Ladover Hasidism to the far corners of the world. Something has to give. It…

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Monk on the run in 14th Century England has more to worry about than building himself a time machine to get out of 14th Century England. Obviously kidding about the sci-fi bit because this is Barry Unsworth. The book is the time machine. The moral of the story is less story, more moral. Photo Douglas…

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Hartmann and Fibitch arrived in England as refugees on the Kindertransport and then they had had wives and children and those children had families and – what was the point of this story again? Served (saved?) with a side of Sebald (how can you not) plus the flavour of Rushforth, which is the name of…

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The real life murder mystery of a CBS reporter is foreground and backdrop for a modern day high school student trying to figure out why the wrong man was put down. Also a love story. Salonic. Picture: George Laoutaris

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Pinneberg is the Little Man; What Now is what everyone is asking at the outset of the Depression, when this novel is set. Fallada’s novel is about the piece by piece destruction of a young man by forces that are both incomprehensibly great and pathetically familiar, from the collapse of the world economy to the…

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Medical intern sent by boss to spy on a painter named of Strauch.  What the intern finds is the gaping wound of Lower Austria, which may or may not stand in for the entire world. Extremely bleak.  Extremely funny.  Basically, extreme in all senses. Photo: Florin Draghici

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Spare parts make up the engine of this rickety ride from here to there. One solipsistic young man from England leads friends and acquaintances to Crimea, and for some reason they follow him. With allusions to Nicholson Baker and Peter Carey, this episode also features a drop from Masterchef Australia, which is what I’m into…

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