December 09, 2008
Niven Govinden - Books of the Year
"Short fiction is alive and well, and provides the perfect antidote to some of the year’s more bloated novels. Julia Leigh’s Disquiet (Faber), a tightly-knitted novella about a battered wife returning to her mother’s house in France is a must, reminiscent of early McEwan in the way it unnerves; Yoko Ogawa’s excellent trilogy of stories The Diving Pool (Harvill Secker), is a glorious mixture of Japanese suburban ennui and alarm, no more so than in the title story, where a teenage girl schemes to feed her growing obsession with her foster brother; Donald Ray Pollock’s Knockemstiff (Harvill Secker), a series of interlinked stories about the fictional eponymous Ohio town, is unafraid of shying away from the brutal desolation of small-town life, but written with real humanity – the sort of stories you imagine Raymond Carver to have written whilst drunk - and finally, to read Tobias Wolff’s short story collection Our Story Begins (Bloomsbury) is to immerse yourself in a master of the form. Staggeringly good.
"Rinsed plenty of new music this year, but what stands out is usually what helps me to write: MGMT, Goldfrapp, Fleet Foxes, and N*E*R*D."
Novelist Niven Govinden is the author of ‘We Are The New Romantics’ and most recently ‘Graffiti My Soul’ (Canongate).