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John has just reviewed cult Ukrainian novelist Andrey Kurkov in the November issue of Literary Review. Best known for his surreal satirical penguin novels Death and the Penguin and Penguin Lost, Kurkov, says John, has wrongly been pigeonholed as a new Bulgakov, or even a new Gogol or Dostoievsky. Instead he is an extremely original satirical writer whose great strength is his innocent, seemingly artless tone which he uses to great effect when sending up corruption and wrongdoing in post-Soviet Ukraine. The Good Angel of Death (Harvill Secker £12.99) is, John adds, ‘hugely enjoyable’.

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After a busy series of readings in Lancaster, Cockermouth and Lancaster again, John has been invited to appear at next spring’s Words by the Water festival in Keswick, Cumbria. The full programme will be available sometime next month, but if you’re planning ahead, why not start thinking about a literary weekend break in the Lake District? John will be there on Monday 8th March.

John has added two new dates to his reading schedule for the autumn. He’ll be appearing with DJ Taylor at Litfest in Lancaster on 20th October, and reading and discussing his work at the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal on 7th November. See the Readings page for full details.

Alfred Hickling’s review of The Legend of Liz and Joe appeared in The Guardian on Saturday. ‘Murray’, he begins, ‘is a bit of an undiscovered treasure’. Read the review, or discover Liz and Joe for yourself by getting your copy through Amazon or Inpress.

Writer Clare Dudman has reviewed The Legend of Liz and Joe on her blog. She calls it ‘a profound book. The writing is witty, relevant and there are passages that are strikingly beautiful’. And she’s followed up her review with an interview with John Murray which is well worth a read, if only for the tale of how John and his wife proposed to each other in 1979.

A serious joker

The Legend of Liz and Joe has been reviewed in Penniless Press. Editor Alan Dent writes: ‘John Murray’s is a highly individual and unusual mind and his awareness of the shaping power of social forms acute… Murray is one of the best comic writers in English since Sterne and like that serious joker he has important things to tell us’. Lest you were thinking that the novel is just an amusing read though, Liz and Joe, Dent says, ‘does what literature is supposed to do: constantly challenges lazy-mindedness, self-indulgence, pomposity, propaganda, ignorance, meanness, self-serving ambition, received wisdom, glibness; it rouses the mind from its early 21st century torpor and makes it attend to the eternities.’ Phew. Read the review.

Writer Rachel Cochrane has recorded John Murray reading from The Legend of Liz and Joe over on her website Listen Up North. You can also hear an interview with John about his writing, and the new book in particular. And why not check out Rachel’s blog while you’re there?