"When you think about something, when you remember something, it’s never linear, it’s kaleidoscopic. You remember someone and then another story comes." Négar Djavadi
City limits

City limits

They say everybody has at least one book inside them. I know I did once. The only question back then was which language it would be written in. I’ve introduced you to the in-laws, now meet my parents. Like the husband’s family, we all were born, live and will almost...
Puppetmasters

Puppetmasters

Do you ever have the feeling that somebody or something is influencing your life in some way? Making you do the foolish things that you know you really shouldn’t, providing snakes where in fact you should be going up ladders? You’re quite right. There is. The somebody is you, programmed...
Rachel Heng: Forever people

Rachel Heng: Forever people

Rachel Heng’s remarkable debut novel Suicide Club imagines a disturbing not-so-distant New York in which death is put on hold for those with wealth and power and the determination to cling on, while the majority are left gawping at the gates of immortality. Lea is a 100-year-old ‘lifer’ with a...
Reading art

Reading art

David Trigg’s Reading Art: Art for Book Lovers is an enchanting compendium of artworks that celebrate books and reading through 2,000 years of art history. Featuring almost 300 artworks from museums and collections around the world, it is an inspiring homage to the written word. A stunning survey of painting...
Tara Isabella Burton: My sister's keeper

Tara Isabella Burton: My sister’s keeper

I have this friend on Facebook. Man, she just about glows in the dark. For the past five years, she’s been adding sparkle to my feed with posts about her opulent lifestyle. From the stream of articles she posts on her timeline (in Salon, National Geographic Traveler and Vox, to...
The masterful Margarita

The masterful Margarita

From the moment I began reading them, I loved everything about the two novellas and story collection that comprise Margarita García Robayo’s Fish Soup. I found the author’s voice incredibly compelling and felt an instant connection. I could relate to the detachment, the darkness juxtaposed with understated humour, the sense...
Tishani Doshi: Saying it out loud

Tishani Doshi: Saying it out loud

Tishani Doshi’s Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods is an unflinching, tender, witty and wise collection of poems about danger, memory, beauty, time and tide, and transient but treasured joy. I catch up with her at the start of a marathon book tour that takes her from London and...
Around the world in 80 trees

Around the world in 80 trees

Trees are one of humanity’s most constant and most varied companions. From India’s sacred banyan tree to the fragrant cedar of Lebanon, they offer us sanctuary and inspiration – as well as raw materials for everything from aspirin to maple syrup. In Around the World in 80 Trees, Jonathan Drori uses...
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I-land

I-land

As a small child, I did not really have a very strong sense of being on an island. Maybe that is because I was born in the city of Kingston, which back then was a busy bustling metropolis, where something exciting was always happening. Kingston was no sleepy island outpost when I was growing up...
Richard Skinner: Getting going

Richard Skinner: Getting going

Richard Skinner is Director of the Fiction Programme at Faber Academy and a tutor on its six-month Writing a Novel course. Working across fiction, life writing, non-fiction and poetry, his latest book is Writing a Novel: Bring Your Ideas To Life The Faber Academy Way. I fire off some questions about the book, the course...
Uncertain regard

Uncertain regard

There is a point in his novel The Distance Between Us at which Renato Cisneros describes his father’s obsession with watching the TV news, and his own ineffectual attempts as a child to compete for his attention. In passing, he speculates that his entire subsequent career as a journalist and TV presenter could be seen...
Wondering at the world

Wondering at the world

“We are confused about happiness. Almost everyone believes that they want to be happy, which usually means a lasting psychological state of contentment,” writes Edith Hall in Aristotle’s Way, pointing out however that most of our everyday expressions of happiness are ephemeral, if not outright trivial and insubstantial, unsustaining, and eventually even fundamentally disappointing. In...
from Passport

from Passport

Richie McCaffery’s second poetry collection is a vivid exploration of place and displacement, boundaries and borders, creativity and doubt. As he writes about anxiety, loss and dislocation, he asks us to consider what it means to belong, and how we find our place in life, in love and in language, and in our pasts.  ...
The land where Saturn reigned

The land where Saturn reigned

“Each man is in his Spectre’s power” – these are words by William Blake that Marcello Fois deliberately places as the inscription over the gates of heaven or hell that was Sardinia as a private space of memory and genealogy, and as a very public constituent part of Italian society and history, a microcosm to...
from Cyclone

from Cyclone

Robert Peake’s second collection of poems tackles the weathering of personal, political and psychological storms in our present-day climate of chaos. He conjures with life choices, personal loss, grief and its long, painful aftermath, and a world in turmoil, wild with unreliable news and terrible forecasts, where nothing is certain. Here’s a brief glimpse.  ...
Illustrations for a life unlived

Illustrations for a life unlived

“When I was twelve, other people thought I was a prodigy who dazzled and disturbed… by the time I was twenty, I’d learned to deride the facility of my hands as if it were a weakness.” Daniele Mallarico, who speaks these words, is a renegade Neapolitan, an old man on the edge of the precipice...
Over the line

Over the line

All writers should plant sleeper agents in bookshops, to be activated when their novel starts to peep over the parapet. I am fortunate to have the wonderful Mr B’s Reading Emporium just around the corner from me, and have been receiving coded signals about my debut novel, Testament. “It’s appeared on the system!” “It’s available...
Love in the time of hospital visits

Love in the time of hospital visits

for Andrew The first, I think, was my ankle, bandaged as if the nurse was wrapping flowers after it bloomed shamelessly when I’d leaped from a style on College Lane and danced in the Union Bar. Next, your face. A rugby boot tore it open like a love letter and a doctor sealed it, not...