Elmet by Fiona Mozley review – the wild card on the Man Booker longlist

This dark debut about a family living on the outskirts of society is an impressive slice of contemporary noir steeped in Yorkshire legend

Fiona Mozley’s Man Booker-longlisted debut is an elemental, contemporary rural noir steeped in the literature and legend of the Yorkshire landscape and its medieval history. Doncaster is the nearest orienting location, the geographic heart of the ancient kingdom from which the novel takes its name and on which Ted Hughes based the Remains of Elmet cycle of poems. Robyn Hode and his people’s uprising nourish the narrative. As Mozley’s narrator Daniel has it: “The soil was alive with ruptured stories that cascaded and rotted then found form once more and pushed up through the undergrowth and back into our lives.”

Daniel and his sister Cathy live in a house they and their Daddy have built with their bare hands near the main East Coast rail line. ...

Iron Towns by Anthony Cartwright review – football comes home to the people

This accomplished novel creates a powerful lament for England’s diminished regions In Anthony Cartwright’s fourth novel, he returns to the sport that animated the widely praised Heartland, and to the Black Country environs he has mapped in all his work. While David Peace bestrides the English football novel, his twin accounts of monomaniacal managerial interiority, The Damned Utd and Red or Dead, planted like the legs of a colossal, bloodied and psychotic goalkeeper, it is easy to forget how others have hymned – and mourned – the game. Nick Hornby’s optimistic memoir Fever Pitch seems a lifetime ago, a relic from the Blairite days when full strips might be worn to No 10. BS Johnson’s book-in-a-box The Unfortunates, both experimental and melancholy – hardly qualities to set the hearts of publishers soaring – and Alan Sillitoe’s short story “The Match” were lifetimes ago. This is a ...

This Is the Ritual by Rob Doyle review – sex, drugs and Nietzsche

Writers struggle with demons, depression and weltschmerz in this experimental short-story collectionA ranting Irish writer called John-Paul Finnegan harangues his friend “Rob Doyle” as they take the ferry – the Ulysses, no less – from Holyhead to Dublin. The prolific Finnegan writes in a mode he calls “paltry realism” and has completed the 13th volume of his 11-volume novel, Nevah Trust a Christian: “Paltry realism means writing shit, he said. What I mean to say is, what is art, only a howl against death. Are we agreed on this, Rob? he demanded. Yet why is it that so much art tries to do the opposite, to ignore, even to deny death? Have you thought about this?” It’s a bold opening: a story that sets up a metafictional diving board and leaps from it with misanthropic glee. I cackled at Finnegan’s takedown of the tourists who flock to Dublin for Bloomsday: “fat, mental penguins”, ...

Top 10 literary hoaxes

From Edgar Allan Poe’s account of a transatlantic balloon-crossing to JG Ballard’s hair-raising ruminations on Ronald Reagan, here are 10 narratives that blurred the boundaries between fact and fiction

The derivation of the word hoax, like the concept it describes, is slippery. The OED suggests a possible contraction of the magical ‘hocus pocus’, itself a corruption of the ‘hoc est corpus’ of the Latin mass, although this can’t be pinned down. Transubstantiation is certainly a useful idea for considering the hoax, a deception that emphasises the blurred boundaries between metaphor, fact and fiction, accident and intent, author, narrator and subject, and, on occasion, words and things.

Literary hoaxes run the gamut of grey areas from misread satires, outright frauds, misappropriated material and works yet more mysterious: crypto-texts such as the Voynich manuscript, whose status remain undecided, may yet turn out to be hoaxes. Contested identity is more often than ...