"As a writer, your job is to hand the moral arithmetic to the reader… to make the arithmetic but not to do the maths, as they say, but to set out the moral possibilities – hopefully in a beautiful way." – Andrew O'Hagan
The mindful writer

The mindful writer

So you want to be a writer? According to popular mythology, all you need to do is hole up for a weekend or three, drink copious amounts of coffee and/or smoke a lot of cigarettes and put pen to paper. Words of genius will instantly pour out of you. After...
FUKP is the answer – what's the question?

FUKP is the answer – what’s the question?

As we head into a General Election tougher to call than last orders at an Aussie wedding, Free United Kingdom Party leader The Pub Landlord is wooing the good people of South Thanet with the promise of cheaper beer and a common-sense commitment to restoring Britain’s lost hope and glory....
Pablo

Pablo

An award-winning graphic biography of one of the world’s best-loved artists, Pablo follows Picasso’s artistic career from his origins in penury to the advent of modern art. In early 20th-century Paris, 19-year-old Pablo Picasso finds himself living amongst the bohemians of Montmartre. Impoverished and in a turbulent relationship with his...
Enter Radar

Enter Radar

The birth of such an extremely dark baby (described as “blacker than the blackest black” by an overeager Star-Ledger reporter) to two white parents was Jersey gossip that could not be kept quiet for long. The news of the birth must have been leaked by one of the orderlies, or...
Andrew O'Hagan: Friendly fire

Andrew O’Hagan: Friendly fire

I have tea with Andrew O’Hagan one morning at his house in Primrose Hill. We start talking about Seamus Heaney, a great friend of O’Hagan’s who died two years ago. I ask if he misses Heaney. “Oh, every day. He had this brilliant tendency to take you under his wing,...
Ghosts that don't say boo

Ghosts that don’t say boo

My new novel A Reunion of Ghosts tells the story of three suicidal sisters whose great grandfather played a role in mass killings in both World Wars. Given such dark subjects, readers tend to express pleasant surprise upon finding that the novel is laced with humor. This reaction makes me...
Alice Stevenson: Look around you

Alice Stevenson: Look around you

Artist Alice Stevenson has spent many years exploring all corners of London on foot, observing hidden delights and finding inspiration in unlikely places. Ways to Walk in London is her enchanting tribute to the city, combining sparkling insights and gorgeous illustrations to capture places and moments of beauty, contemplation and...
Ayelet Gundar-Goshen untamed

Ayelet Gundar-Goshen untamed

Ayelet Gundar-Goshen’s debut novel One Night, Markovitch is a dazzlingly funny and tender story about love, betrayal and mythmaking. Set before, during and after the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, it centres around an unremarkable man who agrees to an arranged marriage to a beautiful woman to help her escape Nazi Europe...
Talking to the deads

Talking to the deads

When the Pico burned and I saw my grandfather cry, my curiosity in him grew and I wondered about who he really was. And I thought about what we’d seen when we went into his room. What did we see in grandfather’s room? Well, after all those people were taken...
Tony Juniper: Green growth

Tony Juniper: Green growth

Tony Juniper’s latest book, What Nature Does for Britain, sets out to undermine the received folly that protecting nature is somehow bad for the economy and, via first-hand accounts from around the country showing how environmental damage is under repair, builds a persuasive manifesto for a greener nation. We sit...
Coming of age novels

Coming of age novels

These books have nothing and everything in common. They come from different times, different genders. Their stories are as diverse as the way they are told. Some were written for adults, some for young people. The windows they provide into adolescence are varied, each refracting something distinct. But then: there...
Lissa Evans: Laughter in the dark

Lissa Evans: Laughter in the dark

Lissa Evans’ riotously comic Crooked Heart tells the story of bright ten-year-old orphan Noel Bostock, who is evacuated to St Albans from London to escape the Blitz. He is taken under the wing of sharp, unscrupulous Vera Sedge who, as soon as she claps eyes on Noel, hits on a...
Latest entries
Think smarter

Think smarter

Laura Lippman’s latest novel Hush Hush sees her ballsy Baltimore private detective Tess Monaghan as a flustered new parent plunged into a disturbing case involving the death of an infant and a venomous stalker. She shares her tips on maintaining suspense in crime fiction by keeping readers sympathetic, engaged and always on the alert.   1. Don’t be...
A narrow escape

A narrow escape

The light is incredibly clear today. For the past few days the sky was almost blotted out with snow, but today the sun’s rays penetrate deep down into the sea. The sea’s stormy indigo is ribboning out across its surface, like ink dissolving in water. After that it grows docile, a wild animal newly tamed,...
Why read a book (let alone write one)?

Why read a book (let alone write one)?

It’s not new to ponder the demise of reading and the printed page, to note that reading has become exotic – that the printed page is going the way of woodblock prints. It’s certainly not new to bemoan the demise of literary writing and the state of publishing, the relegation of challenging long-form fiction and...
Sins of the fathers

Sins of the fathers

From a distance the tattoo wrapped around Delph’s calf looks like a serpentine chain, but stand closer and it’s actually sixty-seven tiny letters and symbols that form a sentence – a curse: the sins of the fathers are visited upon the children to the 3rd & 4th generations We are that fourth generation: Lady, Vee,...
Dogs both big and small

Dogs both big and small

Novels are weighty tomes. Short stories fill a few pages. When we pick up a novel that’s as thick as a brick, or open the first book of a series whose volumes might reach our waist if stacked on the floor, we tremble with awe. Compared to a novel, a short story seems as inconsequential...
A view of the hills

A view of the hills

The Mayor read a letter. It had been written by a student named Yangyang in Class Two of the third grade at Green Primary School. The full text is as follows: Dear Uncle Mayor, How do you do? I have two things to tell you. One is good and the other is bad. First the...
Experience at full tilt

Experience at full tilt

The particular richness and extraordinary power of Mexican literature are often lost, subsumed under the generic category of ‘Latin American Literature’. And yet there have been stories, epics, songs and poetry in Mexico well since pre-Columbian times. A Poet-King left to his people (and to its multiple conquerors) a legacy of words, a philosophical and...
A busybody's brief note

A busybody’s brief note

Let’s state it up front, so we don’t get muddled: this is the year 1859. We’re on the northern and southern banks of the Río Bravo, known to some as the Rio Grande, in the cities of Bruneville and Matasánchez. Heading into the wind on horseback we could make it to the sea in half...
One day he will stay

One day he will stay

It’s been two days, no word. She can still feel him. His touch is still on her. Her cunt still aches. His stale body odour still clings to her. It’s been two days since she was ensnared in his embrace; naked, and crushed under his weight. Inside he came and her body got to work...
The world's pendulum is Antigone's heart

The world’s pendulum is Antigone’s heart

Ivo van Hove’s production of Antigone at the Barbican reminds us of what theatre is all about. Why tragedy and the Greeks are still crucial to our understanding of our humanity and inhumanity, why they still present us with a timeless meaning, an ethics of eternity. Ivo van Hove has given us a haunting, eerie...