In brief: A Scribbler in Soho; Stubborn Archivist; All That Remains: A Life in Death – review

A celebration of Auberon Waugh; a millennial caught between two countries; and Dr Sue Black on the meaning of death

A Scribbler in Soho: A Celebration of Auberon Waugh

Edited by Naim Attallah

Quartet, £20, pp300

Nearly two decades after his death, opinion remains divided as to whether Auberon Waugh was one of the great English humorists or a snobbish antediluvian. This anthology-cum-memoir, respectfully put together by his Literary Review colleague Naim Attallah, supports both arguments. Yet even Waugh’s detractors have to accept that at his best, he combined sharp wit with an intellectual force that might persuade even the most sceptical of readers to momentarily accept the “modest proposals” with which he took delight in scandalising the establishment.

Stubborn Archivist

Yara Rodrigues Fowler

Fleet, £14.99, pp368

This compelling debut novel asks a pertinent question in this vexed age of Brexit: where do any of us really belong? Its young protagonist finds herself torn between the dual worlds of London and Brazil. As she tries, like many a millennial metropolitan, to negotiate the often tiresome and confusing world of work and romance, she is beset by the constant question: “Where are you really from?” If the book has a flaw, it’s one of literary over-ambition, with its melding of prose and poetry mainly working, but occasionally jolting. Nonetheless, it should delight anyone looking for a thoughtful, witty successor to Sally Rooney.

All That Remains: A Life in Death

Sue Black

Black Swan, £8.99, pp368

The anatomy professor and forensic anthropologist Dr Sue Black has made a distinguished career out of death. In this wise and revelatory book, she capably and thoroughly demystifies the many ways in which the inevitable will claim us all. As she writes in the introduction, “Should we ever actually conquer death, the human race and the planet would be in real trouble.” This fascinating memoir, dealing with everything from bodies given to medical science to the trauma caused by sudden, violent ends, offers reassurance, and even hope, to the fearful and cynical alike.

To order A Scribbler in Soho edited by Naim Attallah, Stubborn Archivist by Yara Rodrigues Fowler, or All That Remains: A Life in Death by Sue Black, go to or call 0330 333 6846


Alexander Larman

The GuardianTramp

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