"I am animal-mad... There does seem to be a counter-movement now towards recognising they are sentient beings, which is soothing and hopefully signals a better future for all animals at our hand." Lisa Harding
Louise Kennedy: Marks on the ground

Louise Kennedy: Marks on the ground

Shortlisted for the Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award in both 2019 and 2020, and the recipient of many earlier awards, Louise Kennedy has become a leading light in Irish storytelling. Having worked mostly as a chef for thirty years, she began writing at the age of 47 in 2014,...
Brenda Navarro: Beyond motherhood

Brenda Navarro: Beyond motherhood

Brenda Navarro’s evocative and powerful novel Empty Houses explores the pain of losing a child, the social impositions of motherhood, and the plight of Mexico’s disappeared and economically disadvantaged. It opens with the voice of a distraught mother whose autistic three-year-old boy Daniel is snatched away from her in a...
Karla Neblett: Angry love

Karla Neblett: Angry love

Karla Neblett’s hugely impressive debut novel King of Rabbits is a vividly realised story about a resourceful, sensitive and imaginative boy from a mixed-race, blended family on a Somerset council estate. Kai’s mum is transitioning from heavy drinking to addiction to crack cocaine, which she is led into by his...
Emma Stonex: Illuminating the dark

Emma Stonex: Illuminating the dark

In 1900, three lighthouse keepers on a Hebridean island disappeared without a trace. The theories surrounding the bizarre and enduring mystery inspired Emma Stonex to reimagine their story with a fictional spin. The Lamplighters is a story of three lighthousemen and the women in their lives, told from the differing...
Lisa Harding: Lost lives found

Lisa Harding: Lost lives found

Sonya, Tommy, Herbie and Marmie. These four characters have embedded themselves into my psyche. The last time I cared so deeply about the fate of fictional creations was with Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life. Where Yanagihara’s doorstopper spanned decades in the lives of four men, Lisa Harding’s blisteringly brilliant novel...
Fiction and climate change

Fiction and climate change

Our dog used to have minor health issues, and so we often had to come up with inventive ways of giving her pills. Many a morning I had a soggy pill spat out in my face, Lumina the dog with her beady eye daring me to try that again. It...
Runaways and free spirits

Runaways and free spirits

“Every landscape needs a figure in it, perhaps especially a figure that is only intermittently visible, that is mysterious and alert,” observes a gardener in Jane Smiley’s The Strays of Paris who spies a beautiful racehorse roaming freely in the middle of the French capital. The racehorse is Paras (short...
Neema Shah: A place called home

Neema Shah: A place called home

If you’re non-white living in a majority white place or indeed a visible or identifiable ‘foreigner’ in a land, the chances are you will have at some point been told to “go back to your own country”. Especially in 1970s Britain. The people who regularly shouted this none-too-friendly command would...
Raven Leilani: In the air tonight

Raven Leilani: In the air tonight

Luster is an original, darkly funny debut about an interracial love triangle, by a new voice with the power to turn modern manners upside down and inside out.  Edie is having online sex with Eric, a man she met on a dating app who messages her with impeccable punctuation –...
Lucy Jago: Making a stink

Lucy Jago: Making a stink

Lucy Jago’s A Net for Small Fishes is a captivating story of female friendship and solidarity amid a scandal that rocked the court of James I. It is narrated by 30-something Anne Turner, a doctor’s wife and mother of six with a talent for fashion and a patent for saffron...
All the love in the world

All the love in the world

“It is nice when two people come together in the universe,” Huma Qureshi remembers telling her young son in the opening pages of How We Met. He promptly asks how she and his dad Richard came to be together, and so begins Huma’s story of her quest for married love....
Ellery Lloyd: Cracks in the mirror

Ellery Lloyd: Cracks in the mirror

People Like Her, by husband-and-wife team Collette Lyons and Paul Vlitos writing as Ellery Lloyd, is a razor-sharp psychological thriller that picks at the dark edges of our obsession with social media and the peculiar world of online influencers. Emmy Jackson is an Instagram sensation as @the_mamabare, telling the world...
Bryan Washington: Neighbourhoods

Bryan Washington: Neighbourhoods

Bryan Washington’s debut story collection, Lot, a sweeping overview of Houston’s ethnically diverse communities that dips in and out of the life of a gay, mixed-race restaurant worker, was the winner of the 2020 Dylan Thomas Prize and won plaudits from everyone from Ann Patchett and Kiley Reid to Barack...
Rumaan Alam: This is how civilisation ends

Rumaan Alam: This is how civilisation ends

“I woke up this morning and the world already feels safer!” declared a friend on Facebook the day after Joe Biden and Kamala Harris swept to victory in the US election. Hah! Wait till you read Leave the World Behind, I thought, perhaps a little too sceptically, you’ll soon change...
Mannequins and monsters

Mannequins and monsters

Edward Carey’s The Swallowed Man follows the adventures of Pinocchio’s creator Geppetto after he is stranded in the belly of a sea beast. As the woodcarver ekes out a frugal existence, living on his memories and imagination, the tale becomes a magical meditation on fatherly love, loss and regret, and...
Latest entries
Don't just think about it – how thoughts can be life's actions

Don’t just think about it – how thoughts can be life’s actions

The ancient Greeks, and the Romans in their wake, loved to think. They were enchanted, startled and astonished by the world around them, not only by its wondrousness, but also by its terrifying vastness, inscrutable perils, its dark mysteriousness and unknowingness. They found a sense of thrill and exaltation in the perusal of magnitude and...
The Curious Rise of Alex Lazarus and its curious evolution

The Curious Rise of Alex Lazarus and its curious evolution

If you had asked the eight-year-old me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have told you I fancied serving in the army or being an accountant like my father. Indeed, I was obsessed that he had a drinks cabinet built into his office desk, which seemed the epitome of sophistication. Of...
Everywhere but here

Everywhere but here

Kristin Hersh is probably the best singer-songwriter you have never heard of. Just like her music, Seeing Sideways: A Memoir of Music & Motherhood (Jawbone press, 7 May) is poetic, lyrical and complex. I’ve been a fan (she prefers the word ‘listener’) since the early 1990s. Her band Throwing Muses has been around since the...
Literary lingo

Literary lingo

While serving in World War II, Joseph Heller concluded that war was a farce in which only those crazy enough to fight were considered sane enough to do so. That became the theme of a novel he wrote several years later. Heller titled his novel Catch-18. Just as this book was about to be published...
Alone at last: The secret of Marian Engel's Bear

Alone at last: The secret of Marian Engel’s Bear

A woman is sent to an island for a summer. The island holds little more than a house, although admittedly a big one for this remote territory, and strangely shaped too, with eight sides and no real corners, two levels, many windows – ridiculous anywhere but especially here, where you need a fire most of...
At last

At last

It is another Friday evening, and I climb the four stories of Noor’s building with its small, rectangular windows that let in only thin slivers of brownish yellow light. The lightbulbs on the third and fourth landings are burned out, so I make my way in almost complete darkness by counting the stairs. At first,...
Véronique Tadjo: Listen to the trees

Véronique Tadjo: Listen to the trees

French-Ivorian writer, academic and artist Véronique Tadjo’s spellbinding novel In the Company of Men draws on personal testimonies from medical workers and those affected by the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, as well as oral traditions of storytelling, to create an urgent modern fable about the strength and fragility of life on...
from Museum of Ice Cream

from Museum of Ice Cream

Jenna Clake’s Museum of Ice Cream is part simulation, part internal monologue, part attempt to reach out. An uncanny examination of objects, scenes and flavours, these poems explore how food can connect and divide, can feel isolating and terrifying; also touching on television, childhood films and social media accounts, the collection investigates how to reveal...
from A God at the Door

from A God at the Door

Tishani Doshi’s latest poetry collection A God at the Door spans time and space, drawing on the minutiae of nature and humanity to elevate the marginalised. Taken together, playfully eclectic in form and metre, the poems traverse history, from the cosmic to the quotidian, taking inspiration from the world at large to bestow power on...