“You have one body and one life to live and you only get this one shot – and that reality can drive you crazy.” Ottessa Moshfegh
Author Archive
Sanam Maher: The real Qandeel?

Sanam Maher: The real Qandeel?

Qandeel Baloch was the social-media siren who teased and titillated Pakistani society with her pouty posts and racy videos, empowering young women and outraging religious elders at every turn. Her highlights reel is well known: the failed audition on Pakistan Idol – all shrill voice, shocking pink leggings and fake tears; the stunt marriage proposal...
Mia Couto: Singular dualities

Mia Couto: Singular dualities

Mia Couto’s Woman of the Ashes is the first novel in a trilogy centred around the 1895 overthrow of southern Mozambique’s last emperor, Ngungunyane. As warring factions threaten to divide the country an unforeseen love affair unfolds between 15-year-old village girl Imani and exiled Portuguese sergeant Germano de Melo. Imani is torn between pragmatic service...
Wayétu Moore: Liberia then and now

Wayétu Moore: Liberia then and now

Wayétu Moore’s She Would Be King is a vibrant historical novel about the tumultuous founding of Liberia, shot through with fantastical elements rooted in African fable. The heroine referenced in the title is wild, red-haired Gbessa [pronounced ‘Bessah’], who is cast from her Vai village because she was cursed at birth and deemed to be...
The view from below

The view from below

Robert Macfarlane’s Underland: A Deep Time Journey has its roots in three ‘surfacings’ that occurred in the spring and summer of 2010: the explosion of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull, the Deep Water Horizon blow-out in the Gulf of Mexico, and the entrapment of 33 miners at the San José copper and gold mine in northern...
Ottessa Moshfegh: Just one shot

Ottessa Moshfegh: Just one shot

Ottessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation, a New York Times bestseller shortlisted for the 2019 Wellcome Book Prize, is a darkly hilarious novel about narcotic hibernation and moneyed oblivion. The unnamed narrator is a recent graduate from New York’s Columbia University who has given up her underpaid job as a slacker assistant at...
A complex complicity

A complex complicity

“I’ve forgotten such a lot. Most of it, really. Certain things stick of course, although I’ve no idea why. I don’t understand how it works. I read something and then I go across the room to check what’s for dinner and completely forget what I’ve just read. I think, wait a minute, I’ve only just...
Fatima Bhutto: Lost hearts and souls

Fatima Bhutto: Lost hearts and souls

Fatima Bhutto’s second novel The Runaways is a provocative, astute and ever-timely exploration of what makes three young people in Pakistan and England reject the society that raised them and sign up to the war against the West. Anita, growing up in a sprawling Karachi slum, aims to better herself with book learning but finds...
Leïla Slimani: We are all monsters

Leïla Slimani: We are all monsters

 Leïla Slimani has been in huge demand on the global literary circuit since winning the Prix Goncourt in 2016 with her second novel Chanson douce, which was published in English last year as Lullaby (and in the US as The Perfect Nanny), translated by Sam Taylor. A worldwide bestseller, it opens with the double...
Oyinkan Braithwaite: Blood sisters

Oyinkan Braithwaite: Blood sisters

If the title hasn’t already won you over, the opening lines hook you right in: “Ayoola summons me with these words – Korede, I killed him. I had hoped I would never hear those words again.” Oyinkan Braithwaite’s debut novel My Sister, the Serial Killer is a pacy, macabre and very funny gallop through the...
John Lanchester: Behind the barricades

John Lanchester: Behind the barricades

John Lanchester’s The Wall is a dystopian vision of post-climate-collapse Britain. As the seas have risen, all the world’s beaches and low-lying communities have been submerged, and vast displaced populations are cast adrift on the oceans in a perilous search of safe harbour. In common with other still-habitable territories, Britain’s rocky coast is topped by...