Habibi By Craig Thompson Faber, 672pp. £20
ON BLOGS, in op-ed pieces and in message-board threads, the novel-is-dead knell goes out at least once a year. Popular fiction, sigh the intelligentsia, is no more than an excuse for ladies of leisure to take tea at the monthly book-club meet. The Literary Novel, once a fearsome beast, is dying a gentrified death in Victorian parlours. The Man Booker longlist has become a musty museum cluttered with Merchant-Ivory period yarns and middlebrow tales of the Home Counties classes. Vintage heavyweight prizewinners – Amis, Atwood, McEwan, DeLillo – are decreed past their peak.
But perhaps ...