"There is no centre anymore. We live in a multipolar world, and culture reflects that." Fatima Bhutto
Playing God

Playing God

Nikita Lalwani’s latest novel You People poses the tantalising question: in a world where the law is against you, how far would you be willing to lie for a chance to live? Set in London pizzeria where half the kitchen staff are undocumented immigrants, it is a witty and humane...
Petina Gappah: Follow the body

Petina Gappah: Follow the body

When British explorer David Livingstone died in 1873 in a small village in present-day Zambia, he was accompanied by an entourage of around seventy African guides, porters and helpers, who came to the remarkable decision to carry his remains over 1,500 miles to the coast at Bagamoyo to be transported...
Camilla Bruce: Away with the faeries

Camilla Bruce: Away with the faeries

Camilla Bruce’s debut novel You Let Me In is a gripping, genre-shifting psychological thriller written in the form of a long letter-cum-memoir from missing, 74-year-old romance novelist Cassandra Tipp to nephew and niece Janus and Penelope – her only living heirs. In the letter, she tells dark parallel tales about...
The accidental activist

The accidental activist

‘‘To say that Rob Bilott is understated,’’ his colleague Edison Hill says, ‘‘is an understatement,’’ reported Nathaniel Rich in the New York Times Magazine article that inspired Mark Ruffalo to snap up the film rights to story of the mild-mannered corporate defence lawyer who went rogue and took on the...
The Mourners' Kaddish

The Mourners’ Kaddish

Sometimes it is very hard to put words to experiences. In Adorno’s much used (and misused) own words, “there can be no poetry after Auschwitz”; the human soul and mind can conceive of no recreation of experience, no seamless relating to, or of, life through words alone, once the humanity...
Deepa Anappara: Other realities

Deepa Anappara: Other realities

Deepa Anappara’s debut novel Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line is an exuberant and captivating child’s-eye depiction of hand-to-mouth living in a sprawling, determinedly self-sustaining slum in an unnamed Indian city. Nine-year-old narrator Jai is a fan of reality cop shows beamed into his family’s one-room shack in a crowded...
This great horse-faced bluestocking

This great horse-faced bluestocking

There are books that have transformed the world; stories that have changed the course of lives. For more than 150 years now, the novels of George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) have done just that for an unwavering and undiminishing succession of readers: they have stopped them in their tracks almost...
Homesick for another land

Homesick for another land

Musician and cartoonist Carol Isaacs’ graphic memoir The Wolf of Baghdad traces her family roots among Iraq’s departed Jewish community. Wordless chapters are bookmarked by the testimonies of family members who lived in and were exiled from Baghdad. Born and raised in London, fuelled by family anecdotes and customs, Carol...
Latest entries
The angel of conception

The angel of conception

Lailah the angel stands at the edge of the Garden of Eden, surveying. She sees apple trees, fig trees, grape vines, pumpkin patches, wheat, corn, and the plants we eat from. Birdsong fills the air. Furry animals scamper on the ground. A creek burbles and fish swim in the clear waters. In the center of...
A month of singular vision

A month of singular vision

Hisham Matar is undeniably a remarkable man, with a talent for unusual journeys and their tales. A gifted storyteller, he excels in that rare balancing act between the personal and the universal, the minutely concrete and the sublimely abstract. He loves to explore the terra incognita between permanence and transience, presence and errantry, past and...
Every animal has its own madness

Every animal has its own madness

Plague diary, 25 March 2020. Sometimes, in the terrible world, people open their front doors just slightly and spit as foreigners pass. Foreign, I’m told, in one of the Slavic languages, means mute. Whoever does not speak my language, is mute. Whoever does not have my history, is mute. “Virus detected in the sewers in...
My opposite hand

My opposite hand

From the day I learned to write until I was 52 years old, I wrote with my right hand. Then, in April of 2018, due to intense repetitive-stress soreness in my right hand and wrist, I began teaching myself to write with my left. I’ll never be the same. I write my first drafts longhand...
Back on land

Back on land

Well, when I saw her hanging upside down, like reverse crucified, my heart stop and my blood run cold cold cold. So, they ketch her. My worse fear. I kept up with their boat for an hour or so, but left before they hook her good. They were heading far out. I turn back; I...
Our Lady in peril

Our Lady in peril

Of the night of the fire I remember a kaleidoscope of images, a collision of emotions, in quick succession. Through my kitchen window seeing bright-yellow plumes of smoke coiling into the sky, then rushing down the stairs onto quai de la Tournelle, standing right opposite Notre-Dame’s south rose window, the red and orange tongues of...
Why do birds sing?

Why do birds sing?

It was around midnight when J. and I arrived. The location seemed at first glance unpromising. A snarl of train tracks, interspersed with islands of undergrowth, just outside Warsaw West Station. Neck-high grasses and thistles, less than two miles from the park. It was right here, amid the stink of heated railway sleepers, that a...
Dorian Gray is having more fun than you

Dorian Gray is having more fun than you

You don’t know how you know Dorian Gray. When Dorian Gray first added you on Facebook, you two had sixteen mutual friends. You had been in New York six weeks, and you were always drunk. You figured you’d met Dorian Gray at one of your parties – your riotous parties, your all-night parties, your starlit...
Myths, monsters and the misunderstood

Myths, monsters and the misunderstood

Monique Roffey’s latest novel The Mermaid of Black Conch is set on an imaginary Caribbean island where a mermaid is returned to land and falls in love with a local fisherman. Their story is intertwined with that of benevolent but formidable local landowner Miss Arcadia Rain, and tackles themes of unconditional love, friendship, community, identity,...
from Ledger

from Ledger

Jane Hirshfield’s new poetry collection is a personal, ecological and political reckoning, a registry of contemporary dilemmas and an urgent call to action on climate change, social justice and the plight of refugees. The poems record both abiding and squandered riches and mourn our many failures, summoning our common responsibility to sustain one another and...