Books in the Media: Hall's first for six years hailed as one of 2021's best

Books in the Media: Hall's first for six years hailed as one of 2021's best

Sarah Hall's first novel in six years, Burntcoat (Faber), picked up mentions in The Bookseller, the Times, Guardian, Scotsman, Telegraph and Financial Times this week. 

The novel was an Editor's Choice for The Bookseller's Alice O'Keeffe, who labelled it "stunningly good", whilst the Scotsman's Stuart Kelly called it "finely wrought, intellectually brave and emotionally honest".

The Telegraph's Cal Revely-Calder gave Burntcoat a five star review, calling it "one of the best books of the year". The critic added: "Hall’s writing is prismatic and taut, borne along on passages of studied intensity."

Writing for the Financial Times, Lauren Elkin said: "Burntcoat is an elemental novel, of earth and fire and water, wood and mud and peat, graphite and charcoal, resins, pine tar and ashes. It is a novel woven from the language of the English landscape: branches, gorse, moor, sand, cold water, sodden oak."

In the Times, Claire Allfree wasn't as convinced as her fellow critics: "This is an odd novel, a hotchpotch of ideas, thoughts and sensual descriptions of art, mortality and the vulnerability of the human body. Its elegant phrasing almost blinds you to the novel’s abstract nature. However, the fragmented, backwards-looking structure is curiously enervating, constantly working against the novel’s ability to generate momentum."

The novel was also named on of the "biggest books of autumn" by the Guardian's Justine Jordan and Katy Guest. 

In non-fiction, Bernardine Evaristo's first work of non-fiction Manifesto (Hamish Hamilton) was also one of Jordan and Guest's picks and an Editor's Choice for The Bookseller's Caroline Sanderson, who called it a "gutsy, galvanising short memoir-cum-manifesto" adding that "it's a stirring testament to staying true to yourself, in your craft, in your work and in your life".

In the Sunday Times, Tomiwa Owolade said of Evaristo's memoir: "The most striking feature of this moving and enjoyable book is her fearless openness in the face of struggles."