"In my experience of writing – and of life – the frenzy of dreams and that of form always go together." Iosi Havilio
April 2014
Kirsty Wark: Stand by your words

Kirsty Wark: Stand by your words

Kirsty Wark greets me at the front door of her London pad wearing a pinny and no make-up. Truly impressive: here is a woman so comfortable in her skin (and in HD) who instantly inspires trust and warmth – the latter greatly helped by the spring sunshine that splits the sky. Setting up our camera...
Yiyun Li's multiple moments

Yiyun Li’s multiple moments

Yiyun Li’s latest novel was inspired by a real-life poisoning case in China in 1995, in which a 19-year-old student was paralysed and severely disabled, but did not die. The culprit was never discovered, but suspicion still falls on a roommate from a well-connected family who subsequently fled to America. The slow poisoning in Kinder...
Flannery O’Connor: ‘Good Country People’

Flannery O’Connor: ‘Good Country People’

As both a reader and writer of stories, I love, perhaps more than any other quality of the form, the daring that defines the very best short stories: that breathtaking break with expectation, or subject matter, or reality as we know it. No story writer, it seems to me, had – or has – a...
Lorrie Moore: ‘How to Be an Other Woman’

Lorrie Moore: ‘How to Be an Other Woman’

It is risky to return to anything that one loved thirty years ago – a boyfriend, a city, an outfit. But I had a hunch that Lorrie Moore’s ‘How to Be an Other Woman’ would hold up pretty well, although it now feels distinctly historical with its references to office work in which the clerical...
Rebecca Hunt: Poles apart

Rebecca Hunt: Poles apart

Rebecca Hunt is one of the friendliest people I’ve ever met, never mind interviewed. Her incredibly poised debut novel Mr Chartwell was published when she was 31 (she’s now 34), and sold in ten countries. Also longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, she could frankly be excused for taking herself very seriously indeed. But...
Amanda Lindhout: Compassion over hate

Amanda Lindhout: Compassion over hate

Amanda Lindhout’s remarkable memoir A House in the Sky tells the harrowing, ultimately inspirational story of her 460 days in captivity as a hostage in Somalia. Moved between derelict desert houses where she was kept in the dark, in chains, starved, and repeatedly beaten and abused by her teenage captors, she was able to call...
Improvised explosive device

Improvised explosive device

The blast from an improvised explosive device moves at 13,000 mph, gets as hot as 7,000 degrees and creates 400 tons of pressure per square inch. “No one survives that. We’re trying to save the kids at 25 meters and beyond.” – Ronald Glasser in the Army Times If this poem had wires coming out...
Damn!

Damn!

If Sanford T.’s daddy hadn’t got killed that night I guess we’d still be with the carnival. What we was doing was hauling old man McClerkin around the country claiming he was Jesse James and charging fifty cents a head to come in and see him. We had to pay Mr Mooney thirty per cent...
Sheila Heti talks unpretty

Sheila Heti talks unpretty

Sheila Heti’s most recent novel How Should a Person Be? is a book that’s not afraid of appearing ugly, either aesthetically or morally. There is even a chapter called ‘Sheila Throws Her Shit’. Its writer, however, has a generous spirit, a sincere belief in the importance of art and that same mixture of confidence and...
Beyond normal

Beyond normal

Alice Hoffman’s latest novel The Museum of Extraordinary Things is a magical tale about the power of love and reconciliation focusing on intertwining lives in New York in the early years of the twentieth century. The title refers to a boardwalk freak show on Coney Island offering ‘amazement and entertainment’ to the masses – qualities...