“There is something in the self-loathing that comes from writing that helps the job along, that also feeds the writing.” DBC Pierre
The day of reckoning

The day of reckoning

US District Court, Tampa, Florida March 26, 1990 Armed guards led me into a tiny, windowless room in Tampa’s US District Courthouse. Through the glossy mahogany walls came the muffled voices of lawyers arguing and the response of an unruly crowd. On the other side of the door, I was...
Gavin Extence: An occupied mind

Gavin Extence: An occupied mind

The set-up for Gavin Extence’s The Empathy Problem is as bleak as they come: Gabriel Vaughn, a hotshot hedge fund executive with a heart of stone, is given only months to live when he learns that he has an inoperable brain tumour. The tumour happens to be located in the...
The many faces of Lucy Caldwell

The many faces of Lucy Caldwell

Multitudes is the first book of short stories from the prizewinning novelist and playwright Lucy Caldwell. The collection is eleven stories strong and each of the stories seems to describe a character in peril so that holding one’s breath whilst reading them sometimes feels unavoidable. Caldwell agrees to meet me...
Laura Lippman: No more heroes

Laura Lippman: No more heroes

Laura Lippman’s latest novel is set in the Maryland suburb of Wilde Lake, Columbia, twenty miles west of Baltimore, where she lived and went to school in the 1970s. The ‘new town’ of Columbia was founded as a well-meaning experiment in egalitarian community living – which in retrospect was always...
Idra Novey: Reckless passions

Idra Novey: Reckless passions

Idra Novey’s debut novel Ways to Disappear is a boisterously funny literary thriller in which noted experimental Brazilian author Beatriz Yagoda vanishes up a tree, pursued by her two grown children, her American translator Emma, an ex-publisher and a sleazy gun-wielding loan shark seeking payback on Beatriz’s online poker debts....
Jenn Ashworth: Into the dark

Jenn Ashworth: Into the dark

I wouldn’t have expected Jenn Ashworth to be nervous at this stage in her career. Perhaps a couple of novels ago she might have worried that the 2010 Betty Trask prize she’d snagged for her debut A Kind of Intimacy had been beginner’s luck. But her 2011 follow-up Cold Light landed her on the BBC Culture Show’s list...
Taking flight

Taking flight

Nature writing has experienced a resurgence in recent times, not least as a means of exploring a wide range of personal issues and experiences. This is reflected in this year’s shortlist for The Wainwright Prize, an award for exceptional books about the great British outdoors, named in honour of the...
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Unfinished business

Unfinished business

There is a singular sense of feverish neutrality in Thanassis Valtinos’ writing. A cinematic poise, a travelling eye, a dramatist’s instinctive flair for tension, voice, climax, the lull that contains more menace than any thundering explosion; a perpetual game of darkness and light, an omniscient narrator who never divulges all he knows. Valtinos was born...
DBC Pierre: The energising struggle

DBC Pierre: The energising struggle

DBC Pierre is already at the appointed bar when I arrive 15 minutes early for our interview. He’s smoking and chatting outside and I worry about how to interrupt him but he’s as courteous as he is convivial. We have met once before – I used to work in a bookshop in a train station...
Thirteen ways of looking at Guernica

Thirteen ways of looking at Guernica

In the 1930s, the Spanish Reds are promising paraisos to their new recruits. A world freed from class distinctions, slave labour, poverty and squalor, and especially a world liberated from religion – that celebrated ‘opium of the people’. At the same time, those sceptical of Soviet ideology, or vehemently opposed to it, seek to deflect...
The age of nylon/Off the Azores

The age of nylon/Off the Azores

A vast confluence of causes determines the most unlikely result. Forty-eight people, forty-eight agents of uncertainty enfolded within a series of innumerable reasons, fate is always a question of perspective. A modelized aeroplane in which forty-eight story fragments form a world. An impromptu survey whose description goes beyond the very conformity of studies. A census...
A genealogy of shadows

A genealogy of shadows

In September 1941, Walter Andreas Hofer, special art agent for Hermann Goering, was breathlessly scouring France for any and all works that might make suitable additions to his employer’s ambitious, almost gargantuan art collection. Far too often for his liking, he found himself in a mightily frustrating predicament: sequestering individual pieces or whole collections from...
There is something very wrong with Leyton Mills Retail Park

There is something very wrong with Leyton Mills Retail Park

There’s something wrong with Leyton Mills Retail Park. I didn’t notice it in the old days when I used to go there with my wife to shop in B&Q. In need of a bit of wood, or a thingy to fix an object to another thingy, we’d drive from Clapton across the Lea Bridge, then...
Tips for living

Tips for living

Britt-Marie is not judgemental, or fussy, or difficult. No matter how ill-mannered, thoughtless, impertinent or unkempt others may be. But she does expect things to be done in a certain way. She has lived a perfectly orderly life with her husband Kent in their rented apartment in Stockholm for the last forty years. But when...
The art of violence

The art of violence

What an artist perishes in me, lamented Nero as he prepared to end his life before the rebelling senators had time to dispatch him. “He had indeed been an artist – he and his predecessors too” writes Tom Holland in the concluding pages of his sweeping survey of the Julio-Claudians, which delineates the rule of...
Acutely angled

Acutely angled

and I miss the tug of the rod, the crank of the reel, the stench of algae, the bob of my dinghy, the piney taste of gin, but I don’t miss tangling up tipsy in the fishing net and slipping into the lake’s murky blackness where I swear that two-hundred-pound monster sturgeon swam right by...
For the love of God, Marie!

For the love of God, Marie!

Sex, religion, gender, and differing paths to love are tackled head on in this sassy debut graphic novel by prize-winning author and illustrator Jade Sarson. Marie is a spirited young woman from a religious family who is taught to love everybody. A champion of the underdog, the bullied and the oppressed, Marie’s mission in life...