"Even though I am swimming in the sea and walking on the coast, I’m spending a lot of time on a laptop, and there’s wonder in networks of information and the logistics of transport as much as in migrations of birds.” – Amy Liptrot
Amy Liptrot: Wired and watchful

Amy Liptrot: Wired and watchful

Amy Liptrot’s astonishing debut memoir The Outrun is a brutally honest tale of inglorious addiction in hipster-central Hackney, and a lyrical meditation on the long path to recovery after she washes up back home on the clifftops of Orkney. Plunging into nature on the remotest islands, she dissects her desperate...
Freedom suite

Freedom suite

February 1st marks National Freedom Day in the United States. Initiated in the 1940s, the holiday commemorates Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865, which banned slavery. Its intent is to “promote good feelings, harmony, and equal opportunity among all citizens and to remember that the United States...
A butterfly in January

A butterfly in January

Tilly and I stood on the corner together, kicking our feet and sending sprays of white into the air. “Has your dad gone to work?” she said. “No.” I did an especially big kick. “He’s gone to get provisions.” Tilly stopped kicking. “What are provisions?” “It’s what people call food...
Still hollering

Still hollering

“Up to the age of thirty-one,” wrote Chester Himes, reflecting on the time that he was writing If He Hollers Let Him Go, “I had been hurt emotionally, spiritually, and physically as much as thirty-one years can bear: I had lived in the South, I had fallen down an elevator...
Spats

Spats

The dogs are scratching at the kitchen door. How long, Lydia thinks, has she been lost in the thought of her rival dead? She passes her hand over her eyes, an unconscious effort to push the hot red edge off everything she sees, and goes to the door to let...
Body, soul and shadow

Body, soul and shadow

Our bodies are piled on top of each other in the shape of a cross. The body of a man I don’t know has been thrown across my stomach at a ninety-degree angle, face up, and on top of him a boy, older than me, tall enough that the crook...
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Approaching Onegin

Approaching Onegin

Alexander Pushkin is, by universal assent, the most important figure in the history of Russian culture, and his finest work is Yevgeny Onegin (1823–31). He is to Russia what Dante is to Italy, Shakespeare to England and Cervantes to Spain, and for the Russians his novel in verse is a rough equivalent to those other...
Being marvellous

Being marvellous

Sarah Winman’s captivating second novel A Year of Marvellous Ways, now out in paperback, is following the trajectory of her debut bestseller When God Was a Rabbit, with a swift appearance in the Sunday Times Fiction Top Ten and a spring selection for Richard & Judy’s Book Club. She emerges from the duvet to give...
Another Europe

Another Europe

In the course of his long and creatively buoyant period of exile through the 1930s, Stefan Zweig expressed, in a slew of speeches and articles presented in conferences across Europe, one thing more than any other: his ardent desire to see a unification of European states, a Europe pledged to friendship, united around pluralism, freedom...
Intrigue and discovery

Intrigue and discovery

Helen Dunmore’s latest novel Exposure is a spellbinding, multilayered tale of love, betrayal, vulnerability and fierce loyalties at the height of the Cold War. As spy fever dominates the news headlines a sensitive government file goes missing and a swift arrest is made, but recent events suggest a cover-up. She lets us in on her...
Connections

Connections

When I arrived at Rose Cottage, I made sure broadband was working before the hot water. I’m medieval with Wi-Fi: concentrating on the fundamentals of making fire and baking bread while becoming increasingly reliant on my smartphone. Wherever I am, I spend most of my time with a laptop online, so I might as well...
In service of the voice

In service of the voice

Tim Baker’s debut novel, the much-discussed thriller Fever City, follows the desperate efforts of a disgraced ex-cop and a ruthless mob hitman to rescue the kidnapped son of America’s richest man. But the two men soon become ensnared by a sinister cabal intent on seizing power by killing President Kennedy. Where are you now? At...
Dinner date

Dinner date

It was just turning dark when I pulled to the curb in front of the hotel. Alice clutched my arm and whispered, “Oh, no, Bob, no! I don’t feel like being refused. I’m not in the mood for it.” “What the hell!” I said, startled. Some other girl, but not Alice; she was always going...
Centuries of wisdom and blood

Centuries of wisdom and blood

France and the world were stunned by shock and horror at the beginning and end of 2015 when terrorist fundamentalists spread fear and murder across Paris. Hunting down the culprits, locating their networks and above all untangling and striving to understand their motives and ultimate purpose has become a daily agenda, with ramifications far beyond...
Waiting on the shelf

Waiting on the shelf

When my wife and I married fourteen years ago, our two bookcases became one. It was a lopsided union. Roxanne had cultivated her book collection for years, saving everything she read, all the way back to a desiccated hardcover anthology of Czech short stories she’d liberated from her public library in high school. I, on...
Transformers

Transformers

Years ago, when I was starting out as a writer, I met a literary agent. “What do you want to see happen to characters in a story?” I asked him. His reply was simple: “I want to see them changed.” In many ways, identity change is a central part of most stories. Through the experiences...