"I didn't want people to read in the same way they might eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day, but because I wanted them to know the mind-expanding privilege of walking a mile in someone else's shoes." Cathy Rentzenbrink
Interviews
William Boyd: Melting in the dark

William Boyd: Melting in the dark

In swinging Britain in the summer of 1968, three characters are leading troubled lives. Sexually conflicted producer Talbot Kydd is overseeing an archly arthouse movie in Brighton while sneaking away from his wife to a secret London flat and pondering a possible future with a scaffolder named Gary; his star, American actress Anny Viklund, is...
Antoine Laurain: Imagined reality

Antoine Laurain: Imagined reality

Antoine Laurain’s briskly comic new novel The Readers’ Room takes readers inside the rarefied world of a Parisian publishing house, and revolves around a reclusive debut author known as Camille Désencres whose murder mystery Sugar Flowers has made the Prix Goncourt shortlist. Things take a dark turn when ‘Camille’ emails her editor Violaine Lepage to say,...
Ukamaka Olisakwe: Breaking free

Ukamaka Olisakwe: Breaking free

Ukamaka Olisakwe’s fierce, measured, ultimately hopeful novel Ogadinma, rightly dubbed “a feminist classic in the making”, is an unflinching portrait of female survival and inner strength in the face of multiple harrowing obstacles in modern-day Nigeria, where patriarchal rules and behaviours are ingrained but fought against daily by the nation’s women. The eponymous heroine is...
Cathy Rentzenbrink: Book whisperer

Cathy Rentzenbrink: Book whisperer

“When I make a friend I wonder what sits on their bookshelves,” writes Cathy Rentzenbrink, ex-bookseller, bestselling author and amiable bookworm. I smile as I read this. Yes, me too. These last few months of lockdown, forcing so many of us to work from home and Zoom with colleagues, has brought that to the forefront....
Nicola Maye Goldberg: Room for doubt

Nicola Maye Goldberg: Room for doubt

Nicola Maye Goldberg’s Nothing Can Hurt You is a literary thriller that revolves around the murder of a young female student by her boyfriend, but rather than investigate the crime, she deftly examines its repercussions on a broad spectrum of people, from those directly affected to a wider society habituated to violence against women. Sara...
Nicci French: What lies beneath

Nicci French: What lies beneath

The novel begins with a scream. It’s 3am and Tabitha has been woken up by the human howl. She’s in prison. Tabitha is currently on remand at Crow Grange Prison. She’s accused of murdering her neighbour and former maths teacher Stuart Robert Rees, whose body was found in her garden shed. She was found covered...
Megan Hunter: The shadow side

Megan Hunter: The shadow side

Megan Hunter’s second novel The Harpy is a dark and dazzling tale of pent-up rage and revenge festering beneath a veneer of everyday domesticity. Mother-of-two Lucy Stevenson’s life is upended by a phone call from a man who informs her his wife is having an affair with her husband Jake. They agree to stay together...
Kirstin Innes: Infinite variety

Kirstin Innes: Infinite variety

Scabby Queen is a Scottish version of the Old Maid card game in which “the queen goes round and round, and the object is to get rid of her – pass her on to the next one as quickly as you can” – and the person left with the queen is hit over the knuckles...
Jini Reddy: Believing is seeing

Jini Reddy: Believing is seeing

There’s synchronicity at play as I emerge from lockdown and read Jini Reddy’s timely and entertaining Wainwright Prize-shortlisted travel guide Wanderland. Though, to be fair, travel guide is too simplistic a description. It’s autobiography, spliced with a search for self, and a series of escapades in places of spiritual interest from Snowdonia, to Glastonbury to...
Avni Doshi: Mother and daughter

Avni Doshi: Mother and daughter

Avni Doshi’s debut novel Burnt Sugar, longlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize immediately prior to UK publication, is a compelling exploration of the ties that bind a mother and her daughter, and of an irreconcilable longing for self-expression in both of them that signifies betrayal. As a young woman, Tara abandoned her loveless marriage to...