23 NOVEMBER 1991, Page 37

Anita Brookner

Not an adventurous year. All the established novelists appeared at their most characteristic, and therefore their most predictable. I was delighted to discover, quite by accident, Carol Shields' novel Mary Swann (Fourth Estate, £12.99, published in England in 1990) which seemed to me quite excellent. Carol Shields is an American living in Canada: hers is a name to set beside those of Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro.

Otherwise it was a year of French detective stories, those of the excellent duo, Boileau-Narcejac, two minds with but a single pen, and the always stylish Sebastien Japrisot, whose latest and most cunning mystery, Un long Dimanche de Fiancailles, is being read by everyone in Paris and is a hot tip for one of this year's prizes.