"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
Author Archive
The end of the world that never came

The end of the world that never came

Some books speak infallibly and for eternity; no matter their narrative temporality, the very magnitude of their resonance transcends their present, encompasses the past, often pre-empts and preconditions the future on a universal scale that gives them a sense of almost divine omniscience and awesomeness. These will eventually become what we call rather inadequately the...
When time disappeared

When time disappeared

A resolute, yet equable slim volume, full of old-world poise, brimming with humanity, added itself in September 1945 to the list of J.-H. Jeheber Librairie et Éditions in Geneva. The title of Françoise Frenkel’s No Place to Lay One’s Head would appear to be affably in tune with its publisher’s ethos and history: the allusion...
The world that watches

The world that watches

Each of us, to a greater or lesser extent, with varying degrees of enchantment or epic promise, is both a myth and a dry ledger of facts; a fantastical spectrum of stories, our own and those in the minds of others, as well as a hard surface of all or the little that there is....
All, nothing and everything in between

All, nothing and everything in between

As people travelled across Europe in the late 16th century, fleeing the Spanish Inquisition, a word travelled with them – nada; a nothingness of prospects, a future where nothing remained and everything was lost, a universe where the centre of faith was being fiercely usurped by the massive, ponderous vacuum of doubt and agnosticism, of...
Unquiet spirits

Unquiet spirits

Even now, perhaps most especially today, understanding the events of the first half of the twentieth century has a significance that we cannot possibly afford to ignore. The way to the trauma, evil and pain, to the sociohistorical origins, causes, sociodynamics and pitfalls, and to the portents and lacunae we overlooked to our horrific detriment,...
A perpetual advent calendar

A perpetual advent calendar

Our world is ever more in need of the solace, wisdom and power of books. Good books are often hard to come by, so here is a bumper list of some of the most gripping volumes recently published for the young, the younger and the no longer so young in search of the music of...
Flowers in a jam jar

Flowers in a jam jar

In April 1961 Ernest Hemingway would distil, in almost oracular terms, the nature of the writing act as a way of capturing the world, as a way of relating to life, but also as a way of confronting the inexorable absence at the heart of much of existence: “In writing, there are many secrets. Nothing...
An absence full of presence

An absence full of presence

What You Did Not Tell: A Russian Past and the Journey Home by Mark Mazower is an eloquently written rhapsody on the art of remembering. It is rhapsodic both in the primary sense of the word, in that it is a chronicle exuding a certain air of poetry and exalted, almost epic feeling, and in...
The truth of the lie

The truth of the lie

“The duty of art (or of thought) consists in showing us the complexity of existence in order to make us more complex, in examining the mechanics of evil, so that we may avoid it, and even the mechanics of good, perhaps so we may understand them”. This is Javier Cercas’ declaration of intent at the...
Stilted life

Stilted life

Our times belong, in many ways, in an eerie brotherhood with moments in human history from almost half a millennium earlier: in our audacity, curiosity, enterprise, demographic explosion and multi-ethnic convergence, in the vibrancy (dark or light) of our questioning of what it means to be human, to belong to society, to progress and to...