Tessa Hadley (The Guardian) picks her top five
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Anita Brookner
I had such a mistaken idea about Anita Brookner’s novels, until I picked up The Latecomers in a secondhand shop about 10 years ago, and read the first wonderfully concrete sentence. “Hartmann, a voluptuary, lowered a spoonful of brown sugar crystals into his coffee cup, then placed a square of bitter chocolate on his tongue, and, while it was dissolving, lit his first cigarette.” Somehow – I think because of the title of her Booker winner Hotel du Lac – I’d expected something ladylike, lavender-scented, prissy and precious; I knew as soon as I opened my eyes to her words that this writing was everything opposite to that.

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