“You have one body and one life to live and you only get this one shot – and that reality can drive you crazy.” Ottessa Moshfegh
Tishani Doshi: Shifting tides

Tishani Doshi: Shifting tides

 There is nothing small about Tishani Doshi’s tightly wrought second novel Small Days and Nights – just as there is nothing small about India. Whether writing about its people, the scale of the challenges facing a country of epic unequal proportions, or simply describing the natural world on a...
Mia Couto: Singular dualities

Mia Couto: Singular dualities

Mia Couto’s Woman of the Ashes is the first novel in a trilogy centred around the 1895 overthrow of southern Mozambique’s last emperor, Ngungunyane. As warring factions threaten to divide the country an unforeseen love affair unfolds between 15-year-old village girl Imani and exiled Portuguese sergeant Germano de Melo. Imani...
Wayétu Moore: Liberia then and now

Wayétu Moore: Liberia then and now

Wayétu Moore’s She Would Be King is a vibrant historical novel about the tumultuous founding of Liberia, shot through with fantastical elements rooted in African fable. The heroine referenced in the title is wild, red-haired Gbessa [pronounced ‘Bessah’], who is cast from her Vai village because she was cursed at...
Laura Beatty: Insight and wonder

Laura Beatty: Insight and wonder

One comes away from meeting and talking with Laura Beatty with a combined sense of awe and the closest human affinity and immediacy. She possesses a formidable mind, a very composed and elegiac conversational style that one may only call a delicately poetic oral prose. The beginning of a thought...
The sea journal

The sea journal

The sea has been an endless source of fascination, at once both alluring and mysterious, a place of wonder and terror. The Sea Journal contains first-hand records by a great range of travellers of their encounters with strange creatures and new lands, full of dangers and delights, pleasures and perils....
Ottessa Moshfegh: Just one shot

Ottessa Moshfegh: Just one shot

Ottessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation, a New York Times bestseller shortlisted for the 2019 Wellcome Book Prize, is a darkly hilarious novel about narcotic hibernation and moneyed oblivion. The unnamed narrator is a recent graduate from New York’s Columbia University who has given up her underpaid job...
Once Upon a Time in the West

Once Upon a Time in the West

Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West set out to be the ultimate Western – a celebration of the power of classic Hollywood cinema, a meditation on the making of America, and a lament for the decline of one of the most cherished film genres in the form...
Anti social

Anti social

Adam Leroux had managed to avoid most of social media. Facebook, the company that owned Instagram, had another social media platform which was also called Facebook. The company was named for the platform, which had started out as a student project at Harvard University. The Harvard version of Facebook, the...
Stepping into the dark

Stepping into the dark

A lifelong passion for gothic novels led Sara Collins to give up a career in law and test her mettle as a fiction writer. We catch up with her in the midst of a whirlwind US tour ahead of publication of her hotly anticipated debut The Confessions of Frannie Langton....
Latest entries
All through the night

All through the night

H.M. Naqvi’s The Selected Works of Abdullah the Cossack draws a portrait of modern Karachi via the crumbling body and soul of a 70-year-old man who is pondering the city’s past from the viewpoint of a dilapidated family estate. His wistful daydreams of jazz clubs, cabarets, Sufi festivals and visiting Soviet officials are broken when...
Outrages

Outrages

In her latest engagement with the classical tradition, a self-proclaimed radical rewriting of the story behind the Homeric epics, Natalie Haynes is openly outraged and angry. Indignant and righteous, she is a strong, vocal, almost virago-like warrior with a declaredly urgent, even vital cause: to resurrect and reinstate the ancient women in the attic, to...
White dreams

White dreams

In 1685, Louis XIV would sign the Edict of Fontainebleau, revoking an earlier royal decree that had accorded to any French Protestants who had survived the St Bartholomew’s Day massacre the freedom to practise their faith without persecution. The apparent reason given by the Sun King and his court was that the Huguenots were strong-headed,...
The view from below

The view from below

Robert Macfarlane’s Underland: A Deep Time Journey has its roots in three ‘surfacings’ that occurred in the spring and summer of 2010: the explosion of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull, the Deep Water Horizon blow-out in the Gulf of Mexico, and the entrapment of 33 miners at the San José copper and gold mine in northern...
A novel in two voices

A novel in two voices

In writing a story about what happens to a couple after the husband reveals that he has been visiting prostitutes for many years, I wanted to make readers aware of the trauma suffered by the partners of such men. The two main characters emerged quickly, mostly from interviews with women in that situation. Academic studies...
Missing person

Missing person

One day ten years ago, during a summer of no rain, I sat in a rented room in the south of Xi’an listening to a man from my old village as he poured out his story. He stuttered so his story came out in fits and starts. Behind the bed curtain, his wife was sobbing...
We are all addicts

We are all addicts

– I feel sorry for Richard. – You always do. – Do you see him as an addict? – Well– – What would his therapist say? – It all depends on how you look at it. First, it’s the person-not-called-Bob who mentions the idea when he presents Richard with the facts. We can sack you...
The book of Sarah

The book of Sarah

The Book of Sarah is a project that has covered thousands of pages of diary drawings, from hundreds of sketchbooks, beginning in 1998. These drawings chart my childhood and sibling rivalries, schooldays and intense religious orthodoxy when I studied in Jerusalem, my years at art school, a failed relationship in New York, my marriage and...
New travels with myself and another

New travels with myself and another

Laura Beatty’s new book Lost Property, a nearly sublime hybrid between a novel and a philosophical essay, begins with an England in a state of utter crisis – social, humanitarian, political, cultural, a crisis of identity, values, place, purpose and meaning. Beatty’s heroine describes herself as tottering between being and non-being, reason and insanity. “At...
Food: Bigger than the plate

Food: Bigger than the plate

This new exhibition at the V&A’s Gallery 39 and North Court explores how innovative individuals, communities and organisations are radically reinventing how we grow, distribute and experience food. Taking visitors on a sensory journey through the food cycle, from compost to table, it poses questions about how the collective choices we make can lead to...