Paperback review

Published in The Telegraph, 12/01/13

The Children’s Hospital by Chris Adrian

This post-apocalyptic tale begins with the end of the world and ends with a new beginning for humanity. After a great deluge floods the world seven miles out of existence, a single hospital remains, designed to keep afloat by prophetic architect John Grampus. In the self-sustaining, self-contained new world that is The Children’s Hospital, it is up to medical student Jemma Claflin, gifted with magical powers, to lead humanity – Moses to Grampus’s Noah. Adrian, a Harvard-educated oncologist and theologian, peppers his uplifting prose with harrowing descriptions of suffering, richly establishing himself as an American fabulist in the tradition of Tony Kushner (the story is narrated by angels, to boot).

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Paperback review

Published in The Telegraph, 12/01/13

Jack Holmes and his Friend by Edmund White

Edmund White’s subtle portrait of gay libertine Jack Holmes and his straight best friend, Will, is a sophisticated examination of two selves that has as much to say about essential human desires as about 60s sexual mores. The novel follows the eponymous duo from their first meeting as writers in early 60s New York until the onset of Aids, charting their relationship as it’s shaped by unrequited love, aesthetic failure and the flowering, then foreclosing, of sexual revolution. Jack Holmes and His Friend achieves a greater clarity and a deeper empathy than White’s previous novel A Boy’s Own Story, and for these grown-up virtues it is worthy reading.