"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
Contexts
Illustrations for a life unlived

Illustrations for a life unlived

“When I was twelve, other people thought I was a prodigy who dazzled and disturbed… by the time I was twenty, I’d learned to deride the facility of my hands as if it were a weakness.” Daniele Mallarico, who speaks these words, is a renegade Neapolitan, an old man on the edge of the precipice...
Blood and feathers

Blood and feathers

Early in Tommy Orange’s impressive debut novel There There, young aspiring filmmaker Dene Oxendene gives an oral presentation to a panel of judges considering his pet project for a grant. Laying out his vision for a documentary about the lives and culture of the modern-day Urban Indian (the term used for Native Americans living in...
With love and squalor

With love and squalor

Anna Maria Ortese’s Evening Descends Upon the Hills is a book that, Atlas-like, seems to bear on its shoulders the weight of the most overwhelming human sorrow – but also the burden of humanity’s “small, wretched acts of violence, an abyss of voices and events, tiny terrible gestures”, the unspeakable social stains and realities to...
Glimmers of destiny

Glimmers of destiny

In Mircea Eliade’s Gaudeamus, yet another precocious, pernicious, prescient adolescent, full of a sense of predestination and the promise of literary greatness, marches out into the world to audaciously forge life’s meaning in the smithy of his soul. In a narrative where Goethe’s Teutonic Young Werther and Wilhelm Meister meet a more Central European Stephen...
On translation

On translation

For some, translation is the poor cousin of literature, fool’s gold or last resort, a necessary evil if not an outright travesty. For others, it is the royal road to cross-cultural understanding and literary enrichment. Translation skirts the boundaries between art and craft, originality and replication, altruism and commerce, even between genius and hack work....
Tara Isabella Burton: My sister's keeper

Tara Isabella Burton: My sister’s keeper

I have this friend on Facebook. Man, she just about glows in the dark. For the past five years, she’s been adding sparkle to my feed with posts about her opulent lifestyle. From the stream of articles she posts on her timeline (in Salon, National Geographic Traveler and Vox, to name just three), I’d say...
Stitching up our mouths

Stitching up our mouths

The first copies of the paperback edition of The Book of Untruths have arrived and again I am awake for hours in the night. This has happened before. A sleeplessness which is kicked off by the unintended consequences of writing a life. Needing soothed I message the poet Joanne Limburg, who has given much thought...
The masterful Margarita

The masterful Margarita

From the moment I began reading them, I loved everything about the two novellas and story collection that comprise Margarita García Robayo’s Fish Soup. I found the author’s voice incredibly compelling and felt an instant connection. I could relate to the detachment, the darkness juxtaposed with understated humour, the sense of wanting to get away,...
Marcia Daley-Ward aka 'mum'

Marcia Daley-Ward aka ‘mum’

had a slim waist (in the very beginning), soft hair a gorgeous smile (pearly arcs, those teeth. Shining church doors). Marcia had smiling eyes loose hips could dance as well as anyone on television lived with her grandparents in Kingston, Jamaica, and she was oh so kind, had some art about her. When told to...
Piercing prisms and Persian perspectives

Piercing prisms and Persian perspectives

“The truth of memory is strange, isn’t it? Our memories select, eliminate, exaggerate, minimize, glorify, denigrate. They create their own versions of events and serve up their own reality. Disparate but cohesive. Imperfect yet sincere.” Thus begins a compulsive, fiercely resisted, yet inevitable journey into memory in this in many ways extraordinary novel – the...