"In my experience of writing – and of life – the frenzy of dreams and that of form always go together." Iosi Havilio
Kate Murray-Browne: Buyer beware!

Kate Murray-Browne: Buyer beware!

Kate Murray-Browne’s brilliantly suspenseful first novel The Upstairs Room has been described as a ‘property horror story’. Eleanor and Richard, an editor and lawyer respectively, move into a large four-bedroom house in East London with their two small daughters. The house is at the upper limit of what they can...
The first bride

The first bride

They went crazy for weddings after the war. All weekend long, the shooting of impotent bullets into the air, the aggravating honking of horns and the incessant drone of the traditional Albanian music. As if they were so glad to be alive that they wanted everyone from Podujevo to Pristina...
Iosi Havilio: Getting away with it

Iosi Havilio: Getting away with it

Iosi Havilio’s Petite Fleur is a virtuoso meditation on life, death, depression, anxiety, temptation, recovery and miraculous resurrection. Narrator José is down in the dumps when his job at a fireworks factory goes up in flames, but as the gloom lifts he gains an unexpected talent for guilt-free murder. Establishing...
Suspicious country

Suspicious country

Right after the diagnosis, I find it nearly impossible to read. I can’t think clearly, and I don’t have the patience for the development of other people’s ideas and images. “Yeah, I had that, too,” my mom says when I mention it to her. “I did a lot of staring...
In the shadow of Poe

In the shadow of Poe

It’s commonplace to credit Edgar Allan Poe with inventing the modern mystery story with his trio of tales featuring the Parisian detective C. August Dupin. Poe’s innovation explains why to this very day the annual awards given by the Mystery Writers Association are called the Edgars. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle...
Diksha Basu: On the money

Diksha Basu: On the money

Diksha Basu’s debut novel The Windfall is a highly entertaining Indian comedy of manners. Family, friendship, identity, romance, a Swarovski-embellished sofa, worthless sons and insecurity in all its forms make up this sharp comic tale. The Jha family are new millionaires, thanks to the sale of Mr Jha’s internet start-up...
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The unbearable burden of non-being

The unbearable burden of non-being

Lviv, also known as Lwów and to others as Lvov, as Antonia Lloyd-Jones reminds us in her translator’s note, or to some as Lemberg and even Leopolis, is a city with a rich enamel of history – it is almost majolica-like in its many facets, colours, hues and patterns, in the broken splinters of its...
The whiskered stranger

The whiskered stranger

I met the cat in a bar. And he wasn’t just any cat, the kind of cat that likes toy mice or climbing trees or feather dusters, not at all, but entirely different from any cat I’d ever met. I noticed the cat across the dance floor, somewhere between two bar counters and behind a...
An Amazon dreaming of Arcadia

An Amazon dreaming of Arcadia

Historical fiction or fiction inspired by real events often runs the risk of yielding to the temptation of aggrandising one’s subject, of over-valorising the kernel of truth for the sake of effect and novelty, of the triumph of a first discovery. Like Arrowby in Iris Murdoch’s The Sea, The Sea, the author, as much as...
A lie is saved by a lie

A lie is saved by a lie

Once upon a time Don Quixote – that very well-known knight of the doleful countenance, the noblest of all the knights the world has ever seen, the simplest in soul and one of the greatest in heart – while wandering with his faithful attendant, Sancho, in search of adventure, was suddenly struck by a puzzle...
A study in scarlet

A study in scarlet

As part of its 10th anniversary celebrations, SelfMadeHero has reissued a quartet of acclaimed Sherlock Holmes adaptations by Ian Edgington and I.N.J. Culbard in all-new pulpy, pocket-sized editions, priced £9.99. The original editions, published between 2009 and 2011, were a central part of SelfMadeHero’s early publishing programme. These concise, page-turning graphic novels bring new life...
The first killings

The first killings

Who now remembers the story of the Limehouse Golem, or cares to be reminded of the history of that mythical creature? ‘Golem’ is the medieval Jewish word for an artificial being, created by the magician or the rabbi; it literally means ‘thing without form’, and perhaps sprang from the same fears which surrounded the fifteenth-century...
Enduring grief

Enduring grief

My parents died within three years of each other when I was in my early twenties. In an effort to make sense of that blizzard of time, I told myself there was nothing I didn’t know about grief. We are encouraged to seek the positive in everything, and my silver lining would be that I...
Gall and barefaced daring

Gall and barefaced daring

I was well into my forties when I came upon Barbara Baynton’s story ‘The Chosen Vessel’, and I have never got over it. It is shocking, and dreadful: a lone woman huddles with a tiny baby in an undefendable bush house at night, while a tramp armed with a knife slinks around it in the...
The chosen vessel

The chosen vessel

She laid the stick and her baby on the grass while she untied the rope that tethered the calf. The length of the rope separated them. The cow was near the calf, and both were lying down. Feed along the creek was plentiful, and every day she found a fresh place to tether it, since...
The malediction of Minerva

The malediction of Minerva

The story of the passionate last affair in Lord Byron’s life, a culminating point for many of his erratic, errant motion through truth and illusion, has always held a particular fascination for scholars; it has caused vocal perplexity to his admirers and deep-felt sighs of ‘if only’ to the many women (and men) who loved...