"I love drawing George Osborne – and I despise him more than anybody in politics in the last thirty years. Even more than Michael Heseltine" - Martin Rowson
The cruise of the Allegra

The cruise of the Allegra

It was my first winter cruise. I was a waiter on the Allegra, most of the passengers well-to-do people who spent part of the winter cruising in the warm waters of the Pacific, from Puerto Escondido to Singapore and back, including stops in Australia and New Zealand. That winter we...
Smoke and mirrors

Smoke and mirrors

Mira Jacob’s sumptuous debut novel The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing is a heartbreaking and hilarious story of a family in flux in the heat of a New Mexico summer. Basking in positive reviews and attention, she reveals that life as an overnight literary sensation is not always as it seems....
Crime and puzzlement

Crime and puzzlement

The reader was at first surprised, then shocked, as the criminal Raskolnikov was abruptly slain in the middle of the street, right before her eyes. Sonya, the hooker with the heart of gold, shot him through the heart. It happened midway through an essay on the Dostoevsky classic. The reader’s...
In two words

In two words

Michelle Haimoff’s debut novel These Days Are Ours is a witty and reflective story of a group of bright young things trying to make sense of life and love in post-9/11 New York. The action shifts when the main protagonist Hailey finds herself attracted to a man who seems like...
Taking the Mickey

Taking the Mickey

In May, we ran some pages from Jörg Tittel and John Aggs’ shoot-em-up theme park satire Ricky Rouse Has a Gun, then available only in a limited-run special edition hardback. As the paperback is launched, I catch up with the pair – and a stranger in a giant mouse suit....
Blood, Bible, Brer Rabbit and The Bear

Blood, Bible, Brer Rabbit and The Bear

In my neck of the woods, so to speak – the southern United States – the question is often posed, especially by people who are from away: “Why is there such a rich literary tradition in a region known to most of the world (those who know it at all)...
Martin Rowson draws up a storm

Martin Rowson draws up a storm

Martin Rowson’s political cartoons for the Guardian, The Mirror and other papers are visually bold and acutely scathing of our MPs’ pitiful attempts to run the country. As we meet around the time of the shaky Scottish independence referendum, he is entertainingly  candid about his run-ins with those in power....
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Twixt cup and lip

Twixt cup and lip

Alex Preston’s latest novel In Love and War weaves fact and fiction into a compelling tapestry in which a British fascist is sent to Italy to forge a union with Mussolini – and escape the fallout of a scandalous love affair. He wrote it with a pen picked up in Florence… Where are you now?...
Recompense

Recompense

“Something I need you to look at,” Grandfather said, pointing to the bedroom. “We’re both tired. Let’s do it another day,” Slava said, wanting to return to the living room. “Another day with you?” Grandfather said. “Another day with you is a year from now. The deadline is soon. It’ll take only a moment.” Grandfather...
Observers and dreamers

Observers and dreamers

We gave Tom Barbash the task of winnowing down his ten favourite short stories. “Impossible,” he countered, “but here are some great ones that came to mind.”   Alice Munro: ‘Chance’ A young woman on a cross-country train trip decides to decline polite conversation with an affable stranger. From this seemingly minor moment a series...
News from elsewhere

News from elsewhere

Here a list of books that are set in various locations in the developing world. It includes both fiction and non-fiction – and novels inspired by factual events. There is a heartbreaking true story from the Khmer Rouge period in Cambodia, and another written by British journalist and war correspondent Jon Swain, who was immortalised...
Let the reader in

Let the reader in

I only have one tip for writing that I feel strongly about, and that is to write something that allows space for the reader. The reader is a living, breathing presence in the novel – not a particular reader for whose tastes you must write, but a notional one: a mind that lives among your...
The Coalition Book

The Coalition Book

Since 2010, Martin Rowson has been documenting the weekly failings of the Tory-Lib Dem coalition in the Guardian, the Morning Star, Tribune and many other newspapers and magazines. The Coalition Book collects his most brutally funny cartoons from a period that began with a promise of a ‘new politics’ and quickly descended into riots, phone-hacking,...
Elena Ferrante's shadow lives

Elena Ferrante’s shadow lives

Elena Ferrante writes beautifully. She writes honestly, powerfully, with directness and unflinching immediacy. In My Brilliant Friend and The Story of a New Name, the first two of her Neapolitan novels, she writes about a world which no longer belongs to what we might call our ‘reality’; the world of the fifties and sixties, of...
Balloon night

Balloon night

Timkin’s wife left him during a blisteringly cold Thanksgiving week, two nights before their annual Balloon Night party. There was no time for Timkin to call their guests and cancel; nor would he know where to call in many cases. It was the sort of event attended by people from all corners of their lives...
Here be sea monsters

Here be sea monsters

In the year 1560, near the island of Mannar on the west coast of what was then Ceylon, a group of Dutch fishermen caught seven mermaids and seven tritons. By some marvellous chance, the personal physician to the Viceroy of Goa was on board the vessel at the time of their capture, and he dissected...
Nikesh Shukla: Superhumour

Nikesh Shukla: Superhumour

Meatspace is the second novel from Costa First Novel Award shortlisted author Nikesh Shukla. It follows Kitab Balasubramanyam (‘Kit’ for short) as he deals with heartbreak, unemployment and an online namesake-turned-stalker. When Aziz, Kit’s brother and flatmate, leaves him to track down his doppelgänger in America, Kit finds it harder and harder to maintain his...