"I’ve always written short stories, I’ve always been interested in the form being dictated by the concept, rather than the other way round." Jon McGregor
Author Archive
Saunders in the zone

Saunders in the zone

If you want to succeed in art, you need to be constantly scanning the horizon for inspiration. For me, by and large, this comes more in the form of life experience than from direct artistic influence. A bit of happenstance, a string of tiny coincidences in my day-to-day activities, is apt to set my gears...
A wonder to behold

A wonder to behold

Imbolo Mbue made headlines in the publishing world a couple years ago, when Random House snapped up her debut novel The Longings of Jende Jonga with a million-dollar pre-emptive bid. Mbue, a former market researcher left unemployed after the 2008 crash, had written the story of an African immigrant (like her, a native of Cameroon...
In defence of book learning

In defence of book learning

Running for President in 1952, Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson came up with a peculiar rallying cry. “Eggheads of the world, unite!” he declared in a stump speech. “You have nothing to lose but your yolks!” These days, of course, such a bad pun wouldn’t make it out of a Democratic Party focus group alive, but...
Write Christmas

Write Christmas

The season has come for making merry; it’s time to think of the books that prop open my heart so the Christmas spirit can get in. The book that opens it wider than any other is one that I read to my Miss Marie without fail each December, Emma Chichester Clark’s Just for You, Blue...
Electoral collage

Electoral collage

There is a form of mass hysteria sweeping the American populace at this moment. It’s something a bit like the Rage Virus, although those infected mostly stop short of physical violence and settle for just calling each other names and then blocking each other on Facebook. Watching it from across the Atlantic, I’d be terrified...
Boom or bust

Boom or bust

A hundred pages into Jay McInerney’s new novel Bright, Precious Days, Russell Calloway treats himself and a co-worker to lunch. As the editor-in-chief of a small New York publishing house, Russell has just initiated a pre-emptive bid on a hot prospect: the harrowing memoir of a journalist who recently escaped from a Taliban prison cell. It’s 2007,...
Gavin Extence: An occupied mind

Gavin Extence: An occupied mind

The set-up for Gavin Extence’s The Empathy Problem is as bleak as they come: Gabriel Vaughn, a hotshot hedge fund executive with a heart of stone, is given only months to live when he learns that he has an inoperable brain tumour. The tumour happens to be located in the part of his brain that...
Jenn Ashworth: Into the dark

Jenn Ashworth: Into the dark

I wouldn’t have expected Jenn Ashworth to be nervous at this stage in her career. Perhaps a couple of novels ago she might have worried that the 2010 Betty Trask prize she’d snagged for her debut A Kind of Intimacy had been beginner’s luck. But her 2011 follow-up Cold Light landed her on the BBC Culture Show’s list of the Twelve Best New...
Worth watching

Worth watching

Woody Allen’s Manhattan begins with a montage of iconic New York City locations. Park Avenue, the 59th Street Bridge, the Staten Island Ferry; captured in sleek-as-silver Panavision black and white, a procession of these marvels dazzles the eye, while in our ear Allen’s voice agonises over the opening lines of a novel he’s writing. “Chapter...
Blood well shed

Blood well shed

Early in his debut crime novel Clinch, Martin Holmén makes a play at our sympathy. Waiting for a business contact in the streets of 1930s Stockholm late one autumn evening, former boxer Harry Kvist spots a man beating a stray dog across the way. Kvist is quick to call the man out on his cruelty,...