"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
Unflinching and unforgettable

Unflinching and unforgettable

Catriona Ward’s superbly crafted, atmospheric new novel Little Eve continues to expand her oeuvre as one of the most interesting writers in Britain today. Following on from her stunning gothic debut Rawblood (winner of the Best Horror Novel at the 2016 British Fantasy Awards, and shortlisted for the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award), Little...
Phenomenal women

Phenomenal women

In Summer 2017, I decided I wanted to read an anthology of poetry by women that would cover writers from the ancient world to today. I had edited several anthologies myself, but the remit had always been to include the ‘greatest hits’. I had become uncomfortably aware how few female poets featured in most general...
Great expectations untold

Great expectations untold

In 1949 an Australian man is travelling around Europe – a Europe that has only recently emerged from the cataclysmic shock of WWII, and still very much bears the marks of unhealed, perhaps unhealable searing wounds. This man, Denison Deasey, carries with him an aura of mystery and of multiform tragedy, of fate eluded and...
Independent voices

Independent voices

Commissioning editors once held sway at the large publishing companies. They were respected for their knowledge and idiosyncratic flair in spotting potential new literary talent. The advent of digital and Amazon, and the subsequent focus on financial performance have constrained the more experimental natures of big publishers, leaving the field open to independents. Daring, risk-taking...
Isabella Beeton and beating impostor syndrome

Isabella Beeton and beating impostor syndrome

Ah, impostor syndrome – pernicious underminer of talented people everywhere. No matter how brilliant your marks are, no matter what professional coups you pull off, deep down inside you believe all compliments are lies, and that you are only one mistake from being ‘found out’. Infuriatingly, it’s the talentless meatheads lacking an iota of charisma...
The speculative birth of a princess

The speculative birth of a princess

The Princesse de Clèves, a historical novel about the Court of Henri II, seems to have been conceived early in the year 1671. Many French critics think that, on the evidence of her letters to the Abbé Ménage and of her earlier novels, the Princesse de Montpensier and Zayde, Madame de Lafayette must have had...
I-land

I-land

As a small child, I did not really have a very strong sense of being on an island. Maybe that is because I was born in the city of Kingston, which back then was a busy bustling metropolis, where something exciting was always happening. Kingston was no sleepy island outpost when I was growing up...
Uncertain regard

Uncertain regard

There is a point in his novel The Distance Between Us at which Renato Cisneros describes his father’s obsession with watching the TV news, and his own ineffectual attempts as a child to compete for his attention. In passing, he speculates that his entire subsequent career as a journalist and TV presenter could be seen...
Wondering at the world

Wondering at the world

“We are confused about happiness. Almost everyone believes that they want to be happy, which usually means a lasting psychological state of contentment,” writes Edith Hall in Aristotle’s Way, pointing out however that most of our everyday expressions of happiness are ephemeral, if not outright trivial and insubstantial, unsustaining, and eventually even fundamentally disappointing. In...
The land where Saturn reigned

The land where Saturn reigned

“Each man is in his Spectre’s power” – these are words by William Blake that Marcello Fois deliberately places as the inscription over the gates of heaven or hell that was Sardinia as a private space of memory and genealogy, and as a very public constituent part of Italian society and history, a microcosm to...