The Picador Book of 40

(Picador) ISBN 9781447219040


It is fitting that my last review of the year is this book with a selection of 40 interpretations of the number forty by some of the authors whose books I have discussed in 2012, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Picador.


Kevin Wilson (from The Family Fang) wrote an eccentric story about a family with forty children, the peculiarity of the family Fang ringing through.

Naomi Wood, known for her dystopian novel The Godless Boys, describes, in a thought-provoking way, a woman travelling back through the day of her 40th birthday.


The author of The Sea on Fire, Howard Cunnell, wrote a story about a memorable experience when scuba diving 40 metres down in the Baltic Sea.

Other contributors are Alice Sebold (Lovely Bones), Ellen Feldman (Next to Love) and Stuart Evers (Is this Home).


The authors have each interpreted the number forty in a different way, with poems, a reflection on working for Picador, or a list of forty parties in forty weeks. My favourite one was Emma Straub’s ‘Gifts I would like to receive for my 40th Birthday’, with ‘one butter sculpture, preferably in the shape of a horse,’ on her list.


The book is entertaining and good for a holiday break.


Pauline Vijverberg



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