Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

What Are You Reading?

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

What Are You Reading?

Article excerpt

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

Sir David Bell, vice-chancellor of the University of Reading, is reading Gerald Seymour's A Deniable Death (Hodder, 2012). "After his incomparable first novel Harry's Game, Seymour became one of Britain's best thriller writers. Guerrilla warfare and intelligence battles were his signature themes, no more so than in this work. A long, drawn-out surveillance operation involving an Iranian bomb-maker reaches a dramatic climax on the streets of Germany. Understanding the 'other side' makes Seymour a cut above the average in the genre."

Laurence Coupe, visiting professor of English, Manchester Metropolitan University, has just read Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch (Abacus, 2013). "Initially put off by its length, I soon realised it was going to be as rewarding as my favourite monuments of fiction, whether by Dickens or by Dostoevsky. Its title alludes to a 17th-century painting of a bird chained to its perch: a work of art that dignifies, illuminates and redeems the life of such a fragile, suffering creature. Tartt's novel does likewise in recounting the struggle of a contemporary American teenager to survive amid the chaos and cruelty of circumstance. Stunning."

Stephen Halliday, panel tutor in history, Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge, is reading George Orwell's Seeing Things as They Are: Selected Journalism and Other Writings (Harvill Secker, 2014). "This collection of reviews, articles and broadcasts on subjects ranging from common lodging houses to an imaginary conversation with Jonathan Swift comes from one who sets the standards by which all journalists should judge themselves and find room for improvement. …

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