"The truth content of Bowie’s art is not compromised by its fakery. It is enabled by it.” Simon Critchley
Reading Europe

Reading Europe

Now in its eighth year, European Literature Night (ELN) returns with an expanded programme under the banner of the newly inaugurated European Literature Festival. Presented by EUNIC London, ELF is a six-week celebration of literature from across the continent, with more than 60 writers and poets from over 30 countries involved in...
Jonathan Tel: The great and the small

Jonathan Tel: The great and the small

Jonathan Tel has won the 2016 Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award for ‘The Human Phonograph’, in which a woman is reunited with her geologist husband at a remote Chinese nuclear base in Qinghai in the early years of the Cultural Revolution. It’s a flashback moment in a series of...
Riad Sattouf: Tykes and tyrants

Riad Sattouf: Tykes and tyrants

In The Arab of the Future, his first book to be published in English, bestselling French comics artist and former Charlie Hebdo contributor Riad Sattouf begins an epic five-volume graphic memoir about his formative years as the son of a volatile but vulnerable Syrian father and a forbearing French mother....
A seer is a liar

A seer is a liar

There is a view that some people call ‘narrative identity’. This is the idea that one’s life is a kind of story, with a beginning, a middle and an end. Usually there is some early, defining, traumatic experience and a crisis or crises in the middle (sex, drugs, any form...
Garth Greenwell: Cruise control

Garth Greenwell: Cruise control

Writing in The Atlantic last year, Garth Greenwell hailed Hanya Yanagihara’s Man Booker shortlisted A Little Life as the great gay novel we’ve been waiting for. Regular Bookanista readers might recall my own obsession with Yanagihara’s novel last year. Like Greenwell I found radical potential in the models of adult...
Crushed

Crushed

How much was the thermometer worth? Five dollars? Ten? It wasn’t worth anything, but I reached into the industrial mixer to grab it, before the mixer, which I had just started, crushed the worthless thermometer. When I reached in, the mixer grabbed me, held my hand, and crushed it. The...
Dartmoor downpour

Dartmoor downpour

Julia Rochester’s debut novel The House at the Edge of the World is longlisted for both the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Desmond Elliott Prize for Fiction 2016. It’s a darkly comic and constantly surprising psychological mystery about comforts and destructive forces among close relatives. A recent family get-together...
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A mirage of horrors

A mirage of horrors

“Our language lacks words to express this offence, the demolition of a man.” Primo Levi The question of how one writes, thinks or speaks about the holocaust and the ideologies and sociohistorical conditions that spawned it, is perhaps as vital now as it was in the direct aftermath of a period when the word ‘hell’...
Lisa Owens unravelled

Lisa Owens unravelled

“6pm on a Thursday, and while I may not have applied for any jobs, I have made myself eligible to win a Mini Cooper, two nights in Paris and seven in Miami, £500 of vouchers for a Scandinavian clothing brand, an enormous TV (which I plan to sell on), an espresso machine (which I’ll definitely...
An assignation

An assignation

The Tale of Tales by Giambattista Basile is the first authored collection of literary fairy tales in the Western European canon, predating the work of Charles Perrault, the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen. An inspiration for storytellers from Shakespeare to Calvino, the long-overlooked 17th-century collection includes the oldest known written versions of some of...
Divine wonderlands

Divine wonderlands

Since at least the early twentieth century, the question of identity, the vital reality or stark falsehood of such a concept, has been at the core of the most serious literary writing. From existential anxiety and historical misappropriation, to the dispossession or conscious denial of individuality, writing now seems to be at an even more...
The Arab of the Future

The Arab of the Future

This No.1 French bestseller tells the story of the author’s formative years spent in the shadows of three dictators: Muammar Gaddafi, Hafez al-Assad – and his father. Capturing the immediacy of innocence and the fervour of political idealism, Sattouf recounts his nomadic childhood growing up in rural France, Gaddafi’s Libya and Assad’s Syria as his...
American road epics

American road epics

American stories are road stories. We are aware that others do road stories. We are aware that others did them before us. We read Dante, some of Cervantes, and we saw Mad Max twelve times. But no other people set such stock by their road narratives. Nobody churns out so many, or believes them so...
High

High

On a sunny summer weekday afternoon, Ed rode his bike to a head shop called Piece of Mind and bought a one-hitter that looked like a realistic sculpture of a cigarette. Ed was twenty-eight years old and single. He was thin and just over six feet tall. He had dark hair cut short and he...
Heirlooms

Heirlooms

As a devourer of fiction, I tend to swallow untruths whole. If a story can hold my attention, if it can make me care deeply enough about its characters, then my disbelief becomes a feather which I will gladly suspend for as long as it takes to see them through their trials. So Gregor Samsa...
All true stories are fiction

All true stories are fiction

A few weeks ago, when I was in London to present my book about Moscow, I was asked – like many a debut author – how much of the story was based on my own experience. This was just after my first public reading, I was still shaken, and I blurted out a clumsy response...
Six by six

Six by six

The Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award shortlist has been announced, and we’re delighted to share an extract from each of the stories. The six selected authors – three women and three men from five countries and three continents – also reflect the award’s stated aim to celebrate the best emerging writers alongside established names....