"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...
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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Crackland

Crackland

The São Paulo of my novels Gringa and Paradise City has a lot in common with contemporary London. There is gentrification and social cleansing; there is a political elite deaf to the plight of the disenfranchised; there is the tragic collapse of a social housing project; there are acid attacks; there is the dichotomy of...
Through the valley of shades

Through the valley of shades

In the Dark Room, originally published in 2005, is a meditation on mourning and an excavation of memory. It was also Brian Dillon’s first book, and we might see it as the prelude to his subsequent essays on photography and hypochondria, artists and ruins, essayists and what he calls ‘essayism’. How, Dillon asks, does memory...
The end of the world that never came

The end of the world that never came

Some books speak infallibly and for eternity; no matter their narrative temporality, the very magnitude of their resonance transcends their present, encompasses the past, often pre-empts and preconditions the future on a universal scale that gives them a sense of almost divine omniscience and awesomeness. These will eventually become what we call rather inadequately the...
Outside in

Outside in

My author bio used to say that I was a graduate of Stanford Law School, a former clerk for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and a professor of law at the Maurice A. Deane Law School at Hofstra University. While this is all true, I’ve changed it now to focus on my life as...
Who's there?

Who’s there?

In an instant, I became the woman they assumed I’d been all along: the wife who lied to protect her husband. I almost didn’t hear the knock on the front door. I had removed the brass knocker twelve days earlier, as if that would stop another reporter from showing up unannounced. Once I realized the...
Blossoming on

Blossoming on

Originally published in 1968, My Sweet Orange Tree is a Brazilian classic and one of the country’s bestselling novels of all time, adopted by schools and adapted for cinema, television and the stage. It has also been translated into nineteen languages and continues to be very popular in countries all over the world today. It...
Magic in the mists

Magic in the mists

Land of Smoke is the first English translation, by Jessica Sequeira, of a work by my mother, the recently rediscovered Argentinian writer Sara Gallardo. A story collection originally published in 1977, it is a haunting cornucopia of the strangest fare Southern South America can possibly offer: Andean Sasquatches breeding hybrids with Basque deserters, a stubborn...
A secret

A secret

There was a young lady who had a spare head. She lived in Comodoro Rivadavia. Maybe because of the constant wind, or the monotony of limited society, she began to long for variety. The first step, as we said, was a replacement head. Since she had Armenian features, she chose blonde. Every fondness either grows...
When time disappeared

When time disappeared

A resolute, yet equable slim volume, full of old-world poise, brimming with humanity, added itself in September 1945 to the list of J.-H. Jeheber Librairie et Éditions in Geneva. The title of Françoise Frenkel’s No Place to Lay One’s Head would appear to be affably in tune with its publisher’s ethos and history: the allusion...
The life of art

The life of art

My friend and I went walking the dog in the cemetery. It was a Melbourne autumn: mild breezes, soft air, gentle sun. The dog trotted in front of us between the graves. I had a pair of scissors in my pocket in case we came across a rose bush on a forgotten tomb. “I don’t...