"There is no centre anymore. We live in a multipolar world, and culture reflects that." Fatima Bhutto
The Mourners' Kaddish

The Mourners’ Kaddish

Sometimes it is very hard to put words to experiences. In Adorno’s much used (and misused) own words, “there can be no poetry after Auschwitz”; the human soul and mind can conceive of no recreation of experience, no seamless relating to, or of, life through words alone, once the humanity...
Deepa Anappara: Other realities

Deepa Anappara: Other realities

Deepa Anappara’s debut novel Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line is an exuberant and captivating child’s-eye depiction of hand-to-mouth living in a sprawling, determinedly self-sustaining slum in an unnamed Indian city. Nine-year-old narrator Jai is a fan of reality cop shows beamed into his family’s one-room shack in a crowded...
This great horse-faced bluestocking

This great horse-faced bluestocking

There are books that have transformed the world; stories that have changed the course of lives. For more than 150 years now, the novels of George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) have done just that for an unwavering and undiminishing succession of readers: they have stopped them in their tracks almost...
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...
Latest entries
On finding your voice

On finding your voice

When I first started actively pursuing a writing career, I had a pretty good idea of what I was going to write: spare and beautiful books set in rural Ireland, miniature domestic tragedies with universal truths at their heart. Possibly there’d be a PWDP (Priest With Dark Past), or a WRAUA (Woman Returning After Unexplained...
The dolphin children

The dolphin children

Belkis and I met when we were sixteen. Numen prides himself as the architect of the country’s ‘robust’ economy, a feat he achieves by laundering billions of dollars, via private banks, to help Iran and North Korea circumvent the international sanctions imposed on them – a service that reputedly also rewards him with tea chests...
Double lives

Double lives

Even when I saw Lena onstage, I was shocked by her resemblance to Magdalena. But when she walked out of the hotel and stopped a few feet away from me, it took my breath away, and I felt paralyzed. She hesitated briefly, looked up and down the street, then, seemingly at random but nonetheless purposefully,...
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...