"When I read Céline I thought, 'Wow, you can do this, you can do anything!' That was a turning point, because it showed me you just have to follow your heart." Antti Tuomainen
To watch over them

To watch over them

The baby is dead. It took only a few seconds. The doctor said he didn’t suffer. The broken body, surrounded by toys, was put inside a grey bag, which they zipped shut. The little girl was still alive when the ambulance arrived. She’d fought like a wild animal. They found...
Many a woman scorned

Many a woman scorned

If Sarah Vaughan possessed a secret superpower I’d hazard to guess that it was precognition. The storyline of her latest novel Anatomy of a Scandal could have been plucked from today’s newspaper headlines. To label the work as a political thriller would be missing the point, as it is so...
Dad after Mum

Dad after Mum

In the mornings I was still a daughter – a long hoped-for child born in early autumn. I opened the door to his study cautiously, afraid to wake him up, but he was already sitting in his armchair facing the window. Without greeting him, I went straight to the kitchen,...
Antti Tuomainen: Beyond noir

Antti Tuomainen: Beyond noir

Anttti Tuomainen’s latest novel to appear in English is something of a departure for the ‘king of Helsinki Noir’. The Man Who Died is the uproariously funny story of small-town mushroom entrepreneur Jaakko Kaunismaa, who is shocked to learn he is being slowly poisoned – and that his wife is...
Angry young, frail old man

Angry young, frail old man

Over two hundred films, mostly blockbusters, made over the past fifty years. Compiling a top ten list for Amitabh Bachchan is by definition an impossible task. It is also a frightening one as even the most considered, academic of lists must exclude beloved films. The films below are not necessarily...
A bear in a million

A bear in a million

The varying merits of the UK’s early November film releases appear to be in direct proportion to the protagonists’ face-fuzz. Much was made in advance of Kenneth Brannagh’s reimagining of Hercule Poirot’s ‘magnificent moustaches’ in the latest adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express (20th Century Fox, 3...
Magritte: This is not a biography

Magritte: This is not a biography

Intoxicated by the prospect of a promotion, Charles Singulier allows himself a small extravagance: he buys a bowler hat. But unbeknownst to him, this particular hat was once the property of the great Surrealist René Magritte – and by donning it, he is transported into the artist’s off-kilter world. What’s...
Lilja Sigurðardóttir: Caught in a trap

Lilja Sigurðardóttir: Caught in a trap

Iceland is a country that has loomed large in my imagination since I was a young child. My father was stationed on a United States military outpost near Reykjavík in the mid-sixties. Heavily pregnant and unable to return to Pakistan to be with her parents, my mother and older brother...
Lina Meruane: Blood in the eye

Lina Meruane: Blood in the eye

When she was a PhD student at NYU, Chilean author Lina Meruane was temporarily struck blind as her eyes haemorrhaged and blood flooded her vision. Her semi-autobiographical novel Seeing Red, set in contrastingly chaotic New York and Santiago, spins off from that episode in a searing examination of illness and...
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Flickers of memory

Flickers of memory

Lately, the line between real life and movies has begun to blur. There are times when I’m pounced upon by a memory – the cracked rearview mirror of the first car I ever owned, say, or the ghostly dance of a curtain in front of an open window when I was small and impressionable and...
The hair clasp

The hair clasp

We went swimming, my daughter and I. She was twenty and a good swimmer. I didn’t need to keep an eye on her. I read on the beach while she went into the sea. From time to time, I lifted my eyes from my book and looked at her. She would smile and raise an...
The world that watches

The world that watches

Each of us, to a greater or lesser extent, with varying degrees of enchantment or epic promise, is both a myth and a dry ledger of facts; a fantastical spectrum of stories, our own and those in the minds of others, as well as a hard surface of all or the little that there is....
Near death – and resurrection

Near death – and resurrection

On 25 July 1982, Amitabh Bachchan was injured in Bangalore while shooting for Manmohan Desai’s Coolie (Porter, 1983). The shot required a simulated punch to the star’s abdomen, a fall on a desk, followed by a half-somersault to the other side of the desk. Bachchan refused a body double and shot the sequence himself. The...
All, nothing and everything in between

All, nothing and everything in between

As people travelled across Europe in the late 16th century, fleeing the Spanish Inquisition, a word travelled with them – nada; a nothingness of prospects, a future where nothing remained and everything was lost, a universe where the centre of faith was being fiercely usurped by the massive, ponderous vacuum of doubt and agnosticism, of...
Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a classic

Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a classic

Original drawings of Winnie-the-Pooh are on display at the V&A for the first time in nearly 40 years as part of the UK’s largest ever exhibition on Winnie-the-Pooh, A.A. Milne and E.H. Shepard. Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic is a multi-sensory, playful exhibition that dives headlong into the magical adventures of one of the most adored...
Unquiet spirits

Unquiet spirits

Even now, perhaps most especially today, understanding the events of the first half of the twentieth century has a significance that we cannot possibly afford to ignore. The way to the trauma, evil and pain, to the sociohistorical origins, causes, sociodynamics and pitfalls, and to the portents and lacunae we overlooked to our horrific detriment,...
A perpetual advent calendar

A perpetual advent calendar

Our world is ever more in need of the solace, wisdom and power of books. Good books are often hard to come by, so here is a bumper list of some of the most gripping volumes recently published for the young, the younger and the no longer so young in search of the music of...
Picking a subject

Picking a subject

If anyone asked I said I wanted to be a writer, and I imagined and intended that this should be another word for novelist. But the stories of the glamorous dead, biography and narrative history, were as often as not what I read for pleasure. Not long before the turn of the century, my mother...
Down to a T

Down to a T

Sally Rooney, whose debut novel Conversations with Friends is a frank and funny examination of intimacy, infidelity and what it means to be a young woman in the 21st century, has scooped the 2017 Sunday Times/PFD Young Writer of the Year Award. She takes a break from editing her next book to answer our quickfire...