"I’ve always written short stories, I’ve always been interested in the form being dictated by the concept, rather than the other way round." Jon McGregor
January 2014
All or nothing

All or nothing

Fay Weldon was born in 1931 and published her first novel The Fat Woman’s Joke in 1967. She has since written over thirty novels, the autobiography Auto da Fay (2002), numerous TV dramas, several radio plays, five full-length stage plays (plus a few short ones), five collections of short stories and innumerable articles. She lives...
Waking up to Middlemarch

Waking up to Middlemarch

Pamela Erens’ new novel The Virgins is an unflinchingly unsettling fresh take on the traditions of the boarding-school novel, in which a repentant narrator looks back on his past actions as a titillated but embittered bystander observing and provoking the crumbling relationship of a co-ed academy’s golden couple. Where are you now? Sitting at my...
The world's affliction

The world’s affliction

In collecting material for No Man’s Land, my first priority was to feature writing from as many of the countries that took part in World War One as possible. This not from some desire to be exhaustive but because I wanted to convey that the war truly was a world war – so there are...
The author project

The author project

Graeme Simsion’s debut novel The Rosie Project tells the story of Don Tillman, a genetics professor with undiagnosed Asperger’s, and his awkward attempts to find love via a highly personalised psychometric questionnaire. Mark Reynolds fires off some questions about his mid-life reinvention as an internationally bestselling novelist, a transition that began when he sold his...
Dogs good, children less so

Dogs good, children less so

Paula Lichtarowicz’s debut novel The First Book of Calamity Leek is an inventive, macabre and fantastical story about a young girl who compiles her own guide to life on escaping her cruel confinement in a secret garden where she and other girls have been kept brainwashed and misinformed, and where popular musicals are a sinister...
Between Nabokov and Fleming

Between Nabokov and Fleming

Read more and buy the book David Gilbert’s archly entertaining and insightful novel & Sons, about a once-lauded novelist reaching out to his estranged family, was published in the US to rave reviews that variously compared his storytelling, mastery of language and observational skills to Dostoyevsky, Ford Madox Ford, Proust and Nabokov. As the book...
Bat wings

Bat wings

Slowly, its vintage engine purring, the Plymouth stops at the gates of the Lund twins’ dreaded Hollywood Hills mansion. The Final Gates. The final stop on the Blood girls’ trip. Now that she’s right in front of them, Morgana can’t see anything about the gates that indicates they are the last gates she’s ever going...
An affectionate regard

An affectionate regard

One of the old roads leaving a well-known county town in the west of England climbs a long slope and finally reaches a kind of open plain, a windy spot from which a wide prospect of the countryside is available. Fields of corn occupy the near and middle distance, while the rolling downs further off...
The pointless leopard

The pointless leopard

The idea for The Pointless Leopard first came on a rainy weekend, as we were debating whether to set off to the countryside with the kids. A friend said not to worry as “all children love it in the country”, which immediately made me think: says who? I’m a city kid myself, and I know...
The wandering shop

The wandering shop

“Where did you get that?” Billy shrugs. “Shop.” He continues to suck on a rainbow lollipop, exposing new bizarrely coloured layers with each slurp  – a Russian doll of illicit sugar. Laura has somehow failed to notice that her son departed for his weekend outdoor time with a low-sugar, high-fibre apple and returned with a...