“There is no centre anymore. We live in a multipolar world, and culture reflects that." Fatima Bhutto
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...
At sea

At sea

They knew they were lost because they had been travelling for several hours but still had not arrived. When the sun’s disc broke above the sea, they saw nothing to raise their hopes, no sign of an island in any direction. At midday, still with no land in sight, someone...
America, are you listening?

America, are you listening?

Heaven, My Home is Attica Locke’s follow-up to her award-winning novel Bluebird, Bluebird. I’m pleased to report that the second instalment in the Highway 59 series is just as compelling as the first. Texas Ranger Darren Mathews is a fascinating character who is constantly having to balance his often conflicting...
Write what you want to forget

Write what you want to forget

What do you do with the things that cannot be expressed? Where do you put the things you cannot say? What do you do when words don’t work? In the opening pages of The Argonauts, Maggie Nelson cites Wittgenstein: “the inexpressible is contained – inexpressibly – in the expressed.” This...
Latest entries
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...
Disciplines of disobedience

Disciplines of disobedience

‘Let’s do this copper bastard over.’ These are the words my father was accused of saying before his arrest on the anti-Vietnam War protest of 30 March 1968 as it progressed towards Grosvenor Square, then site of the American Embassy. The officer who testified to overhearing him say these words in one of the many...
The short cut

The short cut

I look so much like her, it upsets them. They think they’re seeing her, seeing her returned, seeing her returning. They take me for a revenant. I’ve never returned, though; I haven’t seen my family since then. Since I can’t remember when. Actually I do know, since the death of our grandmother. They talk to...
Marvellous and mischievous

Marvellous and mischievous

Marvellous and Mischievous: Literature’s Young Rebels (8 November 2019 to 1 March 2020) is a free British Library exhibition spotlighting famous rebels in children’s literature. Featuring such perennial favourites as Tracy Beaker, Pippi Longstocking, Jane Eyre and Matilda, as well as new characters including Omar from Planet Omar, Billy from Billy and the Beast and...
American spirit

American spirit

A couple of months ago, I met up with my friend Dorothy. We’d been very close back when we worked at Friday’s together, she as a bartender and I as a waitress, but we hadn’t seen each other in a long time. Maybe three years, since just after her son was born and I quit....
I'll sing when you sleep

I’ll sing when you sleep

And so too might cocks, falcons, and other birds of prey, which have been forced into warlike battle at the hands of man, be armed like knights. Treatise on falconry and other arts, 1386 He steps into the ring and notes with apprehension that his opponent has spurs curved like Moorish swords. His armour, sharp,...
Louisa Treger: Unconventional lives

Louisa Treger: Unconventional lives

Set in Italy, England and Rhodesia, Louisa Treger’s The Dragon Lady is a work of historical fiction based on the life story of a truly remarkable, yet little known woman named Virginia Courtauld. It is a sumptuous tale of murder and intrigue, which spans several decades following the First World War, but is largely focused...
Fungus

Fungus

The skinny guy fell to the café floor. His stomach hurt more than he thought it ever possibly could. A series of involuntary spasms shook his body. “This is what it must be like when you’re going to die,” he thought. “But this can’t be the end. I’m too young, and it’s too embarrassing to...
Nowhere, or wherever you are

Nowhere, or wherever you are

I wanted to be a writer when I was little. There was no question of it; I knew loads of words, and it hadn’t crossed my mind that there was anything more to it than putting them together on a blank (or blank-ish) surface. I was a writer. I wasn’t prepared to wake up one...