back to article In My House, Stalin's Daughter and The Smartest Book in the World

El Reg bookworm Mark Diston is joined by Vulture Central staffer Matt Dupuy to review the pick of publishing this week. Alex Hourston's debut novel proves to be an intense page turner. Rosemary Sullivan explores the life of the offspring of one of the 20th Century's most fearsome dictators and, on a lighter note, Greg Proops …

  1. Bleu

    Svetlana's own

    'Twenty Letters to a Friend' is likely far more interesting than this piece.

  2. edge_e

    lighten up, it's the weekend

    Maggie, you are the loneliest person I ever knew. I wish I'd never seen your face.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    First Novel

    Not sure as to the extent of simplification by Diston on his review but, although a first novel, I would have expected a bit more research from a seasoned creative industries professional.

    From the review, there are two things that immediately break suspension of disbelief in my mind:

    1. Airport so-called "security" (har! har!) have exactly the same powers of arrest as any random passenger, baggage handlers, and toilet cleaners, i.e., none at all. It might be that the book actually refers to police instead, so benefit of doubt on this one.

    2. I object to the use of Albania as your stock backward place which is not so far (from a European / North American point of view) that readers cannot feel some kind of bond to it, and yet not so close as to shake the reader's preconceptions. In fact, Albania has an insignificant rate of human trafficking (perhaps due to being a remarkably family-oriented society). Although no reliable data is available, any occurrence is likely to be much lower than the amount of internal trafficking in "core" EU countries such as Germany, the UK, and Spain. Meanwhile, the majority of human trafficking in Europe (around 60% both according to EU and UN data) comes from within the EU itself, notably from certain areas in Romania, Hungary and, to a lesser extent, Bulgaria. Moldavia (including Transnistria) and some parts of Ukraine complete the picture before moving onto more "exotic" origins such as SE Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

    I realise the novel is a work of fiction, but it needs to be credible in order to be enjoyable.

  4. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    A bit less baseball next time out, eh?

    I know what you mean. Not so long ago I read Bill Bryson's One Summer: America, 1927. It's a fascinating and entertaining book, except for the two or three chapters where he gets stuck into baseball. Then it becomes a farrago of meaningless decimal statistics about players you've never heard of, playing for teams you've never heard of, achieving feats you don't understand.

    Now if it was about cricket... that would be more comprehensible, but just as boring.

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