“There is no centre anymore. We live in a multipolar world, and culture reflects that." Fatima Bhutto
Homesick for another land

Homesick for another land

Musician and cartoonist Carol Isaacs’ graphic memoir The Wolf of Baghdad traces her family roots among Iraq’s departed Jewish community. Wordless chapters are bookmarked by the testimonies of family members who lived in and were exiled from Baghdad. Born and raised in London, fuelled by family anecdotes and customs, Carol...
Moving on from murder

Moving on from murder

“Massacre at White House Farm: Suicide girl kills twins and parents,” screamed the front page of the Daily Express on 8 August 1985. Throughout the British press, the horrific events left no room for doubt. “A farming family affectionately dubbed ‘the Archers’ was slaughtered in a bloodbath yesterday,” continued the...
Burhan Sönmez: Variations on a life

Burhan Sönmez: Variations on a life

“They call me Boratin, and they show me my ID card so I’ll believe it. They think my parents’ names on the ID card, my date and place of birth are all I need to know who I am. But I don’t want to know who I am, I want...
Fatima Bhutto: Culture shifts

Fatima Bhutto: Culture shifts

In New Kings of the World, with customary wit and insight, Fatima Bhutto investigates how Bollywood, Turkish soap operas and K-pop are leading an emerging cultural movement that represents the biggest challenge to America’s monopoly on soft power since the end of the Second World War. The film below touches...
Wendy Erskine: Beyond normal

Wendy Erskine: Beyond normal

Wendy Erskine’s debut story collection Sweet Home, published last year by The Stinging Fly Press in Ireland and since picked up by Picador, combines intelligent lucidity, humour, fear, compassion and above all, what is it to be human. The stories are complicated yet simple; hilarious yet chilling; they deal with...
Etgar Keret: Something weird

Etgar Keret: Something weird

Fly Already, Etgar Keret’s first story collection for seven years, hits a familiarly outlandish and infectious groove. The title story relates a potential suicide jump as witnessed by a young boy whose innocent, excited observations to his father are set against a backdrop of grief, guilt, recovery and misunderstanding. It...
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Chinese Almanac

Chinese Almanac

My father lives by the Chinese Almanac (通勝) – it tells fortunes. Like when might be a good day to marry your lover or move house or landscape a garden. Me, I have no truck with that kind of hocus-pocus. Keep it simple. Two rules: you don’t turn down food; you stay the fuck out...
From In the Dream House

From In the Dream House

An engrossing and wildly innovative account of love gone bad, Carmen Maria Machado’s In the Dream House traces the full arc of a harrowing relationship with a charismatic but volatile woman. In a bold dissection of the mechanisms and cultural representations of psychological abuse, smashing the stereotype of lesbianism as safe and utopian, each chapter...
Anne Cathrine Bomann: How to relate

Anne Cathrine Bomann: How to relate

Danish psychologist, poet – and former national table-tennis champion Anne Cathrine Bomann’s debut novel Agatha is a tender portrait of an ageing, jaded doctor whose life is nudged towards greater fulfilment through the arrival at his clinic of a younger female patient, who forces him to look up from his distracted doodling and re-engage with...
After all that we were, what shall we be?

After all that we were, what shall we be?

The war that would slash modern history, our contemporary awareness of humanity, into before and after, leaving a gaping void between the two states, seems not to have happened at all in the opening pages of Annette Hess’ ambitious and complex debut novel The German House. It is 1963, the year of Hitchcock’s The Birds,...
Keep calm and carry on giving

Keep calm and carry on giving

Christmas books for the young, the very, very young and that lost generation, the ever youthful old   We live in dark and desperate times, we often remind ourselves. And we seem determined, wherever our minds, souls, or ideas may lie, to do our mightiest in order to cast off the hex that has been...
My one and only

My one and only

His parents leave on a five-day trip to Dubrovnik, his father’s home town, hurray, I mentally dance with joy, an empty apartment just for the two of us, to play at being married. I’ll have to sleep at home, though, because that’s only right, an unmarried girl can’t sleep at her boyfriend’s even though she’s...
In body and soul

In body and soul

Jane Rogers’ latest novel Body Tourists imagines a secretive, privately funded clinic in a near-future London that is experimenting with the digital transfer of the minds and personalities of the dead into young, supple bodies. The poor and healthy are recruited from the grim estates of northern Britain, compensated with hard cash for their brains...
Not quite the way to the stars

Not quite the way to the stars

“O, it is excellent / To have a giant’s strength; but it is tyrannous / To use it like a giant.” Shakespeare certainly knew his Romans; even though the lines that capture so brilliantly – and devastatingly – the allure of power and its raw brutality come from Measure for Measure, they could well have...
In Fleabag's head

In Fleabag’s head

Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag gave us the best TV comedy entrance in living memory and much more besides, and the great news is there’s now a brand new way to binge on the entire show as Fleabag: The Scriptures collects the full shooting scripts from series 1 and 2, together with new insights and comments from...
From heaven to earth

From heaven to earth

One of the most striking characteristics of Socrates, as we know him from Plato, Plutarch, Xenophon, Cicero or Diogenes Laertius, and the numerous, yet exasperatingly fragmentary sources that survive, was his talent for convincing his interlocutors of his utter ignorance of any subject – his signature style was to present himself to the unwary as...