“Favorite thing overheard today – ‘I probably would have liked it better if I’d known it was funny.’ Words to live by.” Karen Joy Fowler
On the trail of Gideon Lewis-Kraus

On the trail of Gideon Lewis-Kraus

In his discursive and entertaining debut A Sense of Direction Gideon Lewis-Kraus challenges the boundaries of memoir and travelogue as he departs a life of lazy curiosity and stale hedonism in Berlin to embark on three distinct pilgrimages to examine how we may be defined by ritual, desire and purpose....
Hanging by the bay

Hanging by the bay

I live in Santa Cruz, California, on the very edge of the continent and one of the most beautiful places on planet earth. Most mornings I take a walk along West Cliff Drive, where I am joined by joggers, strollers, dogs, bicyclists and tourists. The ocean is below us; the...
Rebecca Mead's book for life

Rebecca Mead’s book for life

Just like Rebecca Mead, I too first read George Eliot’s Middlemarch as a seventeen-year-old impatiently waiting for my life to begin in the small town in which I grew up. Unlike Mead, however, I struggled with the century-old study of provincial life. My resistance to the text exacerbated by the...
My own private love club

My own private love club

Robert Glancy’s debut novel Terms & Conditions tells the story of a lawyer specialising in jargon-filled small print and footnotes no one ever reads, whose life unravels after an apparent road accident. He looks back with fond imagination on a book tour that turned out nothing like a car crash....
Animal scruples

Animal scruples

Two poems from La Fontaine’s Selected Fables, relating that the natures of two-legged and four-legged creatures have a great deal in common. From a delightful new translation with an introduction and explanatory notes by Christopher Betts published by Oxford University Press, and illustrated throughout with Gustave Doré’s exquisite original engravings....
Ex cathedra

Ex cathedra

“Godfather, you’ll go blind from that, sir.” “What?” “You’re going to go blind. Reading is so sad. No sir, give me that book.” Caetaninha took the book out of his hands. Her godfather paced around and then went into his study, where there was no lack of books. He closed...
Origami

Origami

Another paper cut. Rebecca’s hands were a mess: swollen with tiny cuts, peppered with dry patches. She’d have to make sure they were all healed before Sean got home, or he would know what she’d been doing. She checked the clock. Almost six: she’d better get some dinner on. She...
The story of Gilgamesh

The story of Gilgamesh

The Story of Gilgamesh is one of ten titles in the Save the Story series which is being rolled out by Pushkin Children’s Books in 2013 and 2014, building a library of favourite stories from around the world retold for today’s children by some of the best contemporary writers. The...
Immaculate confections

Immaculate confections

Wes Anderson discusses how his latest film The Grand Budapest Hotel was sparked by the life and writings of Stefan Zweig. To celebrate the release of the film we’ve got a one-sheet poster signed by the director to give away, along with a selection of books on which the film...
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Not old enough to die

Not old enough to die

I’ll start with the early winter of 1996. I was lying in a hospital bed. I had been found after trying to kill myself by swallowing a lethal dose of sleeping pills with whiskey – an attempted suicide patient, they called me. When I opened my eyes, rain was falling outside the window. A few...
Anna Whitwham: Boxing clever

Anna Whitwham: Boxing clever

I’m late to meet Anna Whitwham, and as I rush into the appointed café, I spy a familiar-looking blonde woman tapping away at a laptop. We stare at each other. This must be Anna, I think. It’s actually Rachel Johnson who once wrote a book called Notting Hell, and Anna Whitwham is sat quietly behind...
Finding magic in the boneyard

Finding magic in the boneyard

I have difficulty reading for pleasure now that I’m writing full-time. This was probably brought on by the endless rewrites I did getting my first novel Bone Dust White ready for publication. I’m hoping it’s temporary, but for the time being my editor has taken up residence in my head and he will not be...
Bothersome gods

Bothersome gods

“How ironic it was that her husband, an untouchable, the lowest of the low castes, an upsetting by-product of the heinous system that her ancestors helped create and propagate, should be so full of piety. He knew the shlokas, memorised elliptical Sanskrit mantras, read the Gita and understood what festival was celebrated for what reason....
Parker Bilal and me

Parker Bilal and me

I don’t recall the exact moment when I made up my mind to create a new persona for myself. It was an idea that grew over a period of several years. It emerged, I think, from the frustration of dealing with all the obstacles in the writing game. As most writers will tell you, the...
Rumi at the top

Rumi at the top

Susan Minot’s latest novel, Thirty Girls, is a gripping story about an American writer who travels to Uganda to report on the abduction and detention of a group of schoolgirls by the rebel army of a local warlord, whose life becomes inescapably entwined with that of one of the girls. She disappears when she writes,...
The lovelorn dictator

The lovelorn dictator

When one looks back on one’s life, it is often the smallest decisions that have had the greatest impact. Like the moment a colleague of mine showed me an ad for a job and said: “Look Peter, this is really you,” and I had to agree because for once I could match all the criteria...
Translating between the lines

Translating between the lines

“Since we’re already here, I want to have a real conversation.” – Yujeong When I was first starting out as a translator and wondering how on earth anyone could have enough endurance to translate an entire novel, a much more experienced translator explained to me that it wasn’t as hard as it seemed. She told...
Tickled pink, black and blue

Tickled pink, black and blue

When Howard Jacobson won the Man Booker Prize in 2010 with The Finkler Question, there was much debate and discussion about humour in novels and how this was the first time a comic book had won the prize. What nonsense! In my experience, all the best books contain humour. This is, of course, an exaggeration,...
The will

The will

Because the visit was urgent, I didn’t even finish my lunch hour. Before the clock struck two I was at the door of Otto Mayer’s old, twenty-something-storey building on Rua Tupis. The notary had told me with no uncertainty that we were doing him a favour and not to worry about protocol. “Forget the witnesses,...