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The evolution of insanity

Sebastian Faulks should not be judged by his earlier books, but by the quality of ideas in this daring new novel about madness and consciousness

Human Traces by Sebastian Faulks (Hutchinson, £17.99)

When a well-known author brings out a new novel, you expect the critic reviewing it to have read some, or most, or—ideally—all of the author’s previous work. This is a basic courtesy of reviewing culture, and one that it would seem perverse to question. Yet assessing a novel in terms of the reputation and oeuvre of the author is not sufficient. Most reviewers, for example, have been judging Sebastian Faulks’s new novel on the grounds of whether it works as the type of emotionally involving narrative they expect Faulks to be good at,…

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