Book Spines at a site for book reviews and reading ideas about authors
The Book Gnome
The Book Gnome, a site for book reviews and reading ideas about authors

Peter Carey - January 2017

Peter Carey is an Australian novelist, science graduate, and the author of two collections of stories, nine novels, a children's book, and several short works of nonfiction.

He has focused on fiction, with only brief forays into non-fiction, and explored a range of genres including both science and literary fiction. Australian identity and historical context are a recurrent topics in his work.

At university, he first planned to be an organic chemist then a zoologist but according to him, "he had no aptitude for either, started faking his science experiments and then failed his exams anyway" and writing was a fall back option with no firm plan.

Carey has won the Miles Franklin Award three times and is one of only four writers to have won the Booker Prize twice, in 1988 for Oscar and Lucinda and in 2001 with True History of the Kelly Gang. Jack Maggs and The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith and Jack Maggs both won the Commonwealth Writers Prize winner.

Barbara Kingsolver - December 2016

Barbara Kingsolver was raised in rural Kentucky and lived briefly in Africa. As an adult, she lived in England, France, and the Canary Islands.

Kingsolver has a bachelor's and a master's degree in biology, and worked as a freelance science writer in the mid 1980s, before she began writing novels.

Kingsolver has won multiple awards from the American Booksellers Association and the American Library Association. The Poisonwood Bible was a Pulitzer finalist. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle won numerous prizes like the James Beard award. The Lacuna won Britain's prestigious Orange Prize for Fiction.

Her most famous works include The Poisonwood Bible, the tale of a missionary family in the Congo, and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, a non-fiction account of her family's attempts to eat locally. Each of her books published since 1993 have been on The New York Times Best Seller list.

In a 2010 interview with The Guardian, Kingsolver says, "I never wanted to be famous, and still don't." She has created her own website to compete with a plethora of fake ones"

Alexander McCall Smith - November 2016

Alexander McCall Smith is the author of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, starring Mma Precious Ramotswe in Gabarone, Botswana. With 17 extremely popular books about the Detective Agency, it is more of a phenomenom than a series, and has made him a household name having sold over twenty million copies in English alone.

The appeal of the No. 1 Ladies series, appears to be the gentle and affectionate portrayal of the people of Botswana, along with the kind wisdom of the central character, Mma Ramotswe, who solves numerous mysteries improving the lives of the people with whom she interacts.

Alexander McCall Smith is a prolific author of fiction, with several series to his credit including the Isabel Dalhousie and the 44 Scotland Street series. For many years he was a professor of Medical Law and worked in universities in the UK and abroad before turning his hand to writing fiction. He has an insightful and witty style that makes his books appealing and entertaining. His style is engaging and his characters are credible. This, along with plots that combine humour and interest, makes his books are a good read.

David Sedaris - October 2016

David Sedaris is an American best-selling humorist and radio contributor. He has written plays, short stories and essays, with humour frequently at his own expense covering his upbringing in North Carolina to his life in France with partner, Hugh Hamrick.

Through his satirical tone, he examines human experiences and feelings in an honest and unreserved way blending sharp wit with empathy. His work has universal appeal with themes like work, education, and family.

Sedaris made his comic début on National Public Radio's Morning Edition, reading SantaLand Diaries, which recounted his strange but true experience working as a Macy's elf clad in green tights.

His first collection, Barrel Fever, was published in 1994, followed by Naked in 1997, Holidays on Ice in 1997, Me Talk Pretty One Day in 2000, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim in 2004, and When You Are Engulfed in Flames in 2008. He contributes to The New Yorker, and has sold over 7 million copies of his books each of which has become New York Times Best Sellers.

Julian Barnes

Julian Barnes was born in Leicester on 19 January 1946. He read for an honours degree in modern language from Magdalen College, Oxford. He worked as a lexicographer then a reviewer and literary editor, followed by a television critic.

Barnes has received numerous awards and honours for his writing, an impressive list, too many to name in a brief review of his career to date. He won the Man Booker Prize once The Sense of an Ending, and nominated another 3 times. He has won awards in France, America, Italy, Germany, and Austria including, in 2016, the American Academy of Arts & Letters elected Barnes as an honorary foreign member, and the Siegfried Lenz Prize for outstanding contributions as a European essayist.

Julian Barnes is the author of ten novels, two books of short stories, and also three collections of journalism. His work has been translated into more than thirty languages. Julian Barnes has written numerous novels, short stories, and essays. He has proved himself to be highly skilled and a worthy read.

Lionel Shriver

Lionel Shriver's career took off with We Need to Talk About Kevin. It won the 2005 Orange Prize, and provoked considerable controversy by examining the impact of an ambivalent mother in her son's killing spree.

She was Margaret Ann Shriver in North Carolina, to a deeply religious family. She did not like her name and thought that as a tomboy, a boy's name would suit her better. She started calling herself Lionel at 15.

We Need to Talk about Kevin was not her first book, in fact, she wrote seven novels and published six before this one. While We Need to Talk about Kevin is extremely well crafted, so are her earlier books.

She is an experienced journalist, having written for The Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, The Economist, and many other publications. In July 2005, Shriver began writing a column for The Guardian.

Shriver studied at Columbia University, and has lived in Nairobi, Bangkok and Belfast. She now lives in London with her husband.

Alan Hollinghurst

Hollinghurst was born in 1954 and grew up in Faringdon, a market town twenty miles from Oxford surrounded by farms and chalk hills.

Hollinghurst established himself as a skilled author when he won the Man Booker Prize in 2004 for The Line of Beauty, the moving story of James, a young student, beguiled by the glamorous life of a Tory family. The novel is set in the Thatcher years when deaths from AIDS were at a peak.

Hollinghurst moved to London in his twenties where he discovered an active gay scene. In his first novel, The Swimming Pool Library. William Beckwith, a promiscuous young gay man, learns what being gay was like for an earlier generation, with graphic descriptions of gay sex.

The Folding Star and The Stranger's Child, reflect the rural England of his childhood, and both The Folding Star and The Spell feature a man who falls in love with someone much younger. The ways in which the present is shaped by the past is a theme in all his novels, including the last, The Stranger's Child.

Roddy Doyle

Roddy Doyle is an Irish novelist, dramatist, and screenwriter, probably best known for the novel Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, for which he was awarded the Booker Prize in 1993. He has written in a number of forms including novels, children's books, and short stories.

Doyle's first three novels, The Commitments (1987), The Snapper (1990) and The Van (1991), centre on the Rabbitte family, and are known as The Barrytown Trilogy. The Van was shortlisted for the 1991 Booker Prize and all three have been made into succesful films. In 1993, Doyle published Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha which portrayed Dublin through the eyes of a ten-year-old in 1968. His vivid portrayal of the time and convincing use of colloquial language, resulted in a passionate and challenging novel.

The Woman Who Walked into Doors is the story of a battered wife, The Last Roundup series follows Henry Smart through several decades, and The Guts continues the story of the Rabbitte family from the Barrytown Trilogy, focusing on a 48-year-old Jimmy Rabbite and his diagnosis of bowel cancer.

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens, born on 7 February 1812 in Portsmouth, is an English writer and social critic. He is regarded by many as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era. He was very popular during his life, and his novels and short stories continue to be read and studied.

When his father went to prison, Dickens left school and took a job in a factory. Despite not completing his formal education, he edited a weekly journal for 20 years, wrote 15 novels, 5 novellas, many short stories, and several non-fiction articles. He also lectured and performed extensively, and was an active campaigner for social reforms, especially children's rights, and education.

The Pickwick Papers launched Dickens' writing career, with his novels published in installments, the Victorian mode of publishing novels. He quickly became popular internationally because of his satire laced with humour. His plots and characters were carefully constructed to reflect topical issues for which he campaigned, and his writing is thus as much entertainment as it is social commentary.

James Kelman

Thomas Keneally

Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway

Andrea Levy

Zadie Smith

Other authors you may find interesting:

  • Philip Hensher
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Ian Rankin
  • Jeanette Winterson
  • John Steinbeck
  • Henry James
  • Harper Lee
  • Cormac McCarthy
  • D. H. Lawrence
  • Agatha Christie
  • Isaac Asimov
  • John Wyndham
  • Philip Pullman
  • J. K. Rowling
  • Harper Lee
  • Cormac McCarthy
  • Carol Shields
  • Kate Atkinson
  • Amy Tan
  • Linda Grant
  • Philip Hensher
  • Sebastian Barry
  • Matthew Kneale

Turkish author Asli Erdogan's detention 'breaches convention on human rights'

The novelist's pre-trial imprisonment on terror charges has been condemned by lawyers and academics, who say there are no grounds for this extreme measure.


'They had issues': Sally Wainwright and Tracy Chevalier discuss the Brontës

Sally Wainwright's new drama To Walk Invisible offers a radical new take on the Brontës. She talks to novelist Tracy Chevalier about the siblings' extraordinary lives.


Sexism in publishing: 'My novel wasn't the problem, it was me, Catherine'

Author reveals that submitting her manuscript to agents under a male pseudonym brought more than eight times the number of responses.


The 10 Best Books of 2016

The year's best books, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review. 1 December 2016.


Leonard Cohen: Canadian singer dead aged 82

Canadian singer, songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen's death was announced on his Facebook page.


Charlotte Brontë, the filthy bitch

Enough of the Brontë industry's veneration of coffins, bonnets and TB. It is time to exhume the real Charlotte - filthy bitch, grandmother of chick-lit, and friend.


Beryl Bainbridge was nice as well as naughty - and a brilliant novelist

The fictions of Beryl Bainbridge's life were as important to her as the facts. As a novelist, she knew the dramatic exigencies of telling a tale.


Visit KS Learning for notes and articles on Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë for A level English Literature essays and coursework.


Visit KS Learning for notes and articles on The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald for A level English Literature essays and coursework.


Visit KS Learning for notes and articles on Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote for A level English Literature essays and coursework.


Visit KS Learning for notes and articles on A Streetcar named Desire by Tennessee Williams for A level English Literature essays and coursework.

Thank you for visiting The Book Gnome. Visit us on Facebook or send your thoughts and comments to The Book Gnome, especially book recommendations and reviews.