"Our technology has outpaced us to the degree that human understanding is no longer at the centre of it." Olivia Sudjic
January/February 2015
Lissa Evans: Laughter in the dark

Lissa Evans: Laughter in the dark

Lissa Evans’ riotously comic Crooked Heart tells the story of bright ten-year-old orphan Noel Bostock, who is evacuated to St Albans from London to escape the Blitz. He is taken under the wing of sharp, unscrupulous Vera Sedge who, as soon as she claps eyes on Noel, hits on a flagrant new way to make...
Colm Tóibín: Loss and memory

Colm Tóibín: Loss and memory

We catch up with the prolific and acclaimed Irish author on the launch of the paperback of Nora Webster, his part-autobiographical novel about grieving and renewal. The same week saw the Sundance premiere of John Cowley and Nick Hornby’s adaptation of his earlier novel Brooklyn. Brooklyn and Nora Webster both deal with characters from Enniscorthy, the town...
Double English

Double English

I was a slow learner; my primary school English teacher told me so and I almost believed her. She put me in remedial classes. I was taken off to another room away from the other children; but the support assistant let me sit and write stories, (I still have one of them, ‘Mrs Brambles’). After...
Mistaken identity

Mistaken identity

“Every crook in Greece is in the government,” the villager told the CBS correspondent. At first this declaration sounded extreme, but the man spoke with no emotion at all, a fact that impressed the foreigner. Barefoot, filthy, dressed in rags. Scratches on his ankles, dried blood, bruises everywhere. A man who took life as it...
Imagining the unthinkable

Imagining the unthinkable

The Girl in the Red Coat begins with that premise – a missing child – that strikes fear in the hearts of any parent. It’s not anything I particularly intended to write about at all. But once the story came to me I found it difficult to stop. The idea first came to me as...
Up for the fight

Up for the fight

I was strong and he was not, so it was me who went to war to defend the republic. I stepped across the border out of Indiana into Ohio. Twenty dollars, two salt-pork sandwiches, and I took beef jerky, biscuits, six old apples, fresh underthings, and a blanket too. There was heat in the air...
A man should be able to do things

A man should be able to do things

The first time I tried to install the star nut, I had no soft blocks to cushion the dropouts and no vice to steady the fork, so I rigged up the front end and straddled the wheel, squeezing with my knees. I placed the nut in the mouth of the steering tube and covered it...
Han Kang: To be human

Han Kang: To be human

Han Kang’s The Vegetarian, her first novel to be published in English, is a haunting, startling and poetically rendered story about shame, alienation, rage, metamorphosis and desire in present-day South Korea. I meet her, with translator Deborah Smith and interpreter Kyeong-Soo Kim, to discuss its themes of identity and humanhood. MR: The Vegetarian was published...
The marginal world

The marginal world

The edge of the sea is a strange and beautiful place. All through the long history of Earth it has been an area of unrest where waves have broken heavily against the land, where the tides have pressed forward over the continents, receded, and then returned. For no two successive days is the shoreline precisely...
Deep roots, rich dirt

Deep roots, rich dirt

There is a passage in Jean Toomer’s marvelous hybrid novel Cane that describes a woman, sitting in a theater in a northern city, whose roots, likely unbeknownst to her, sink deep through the floor and travel south. The image is fraught, of course, because the woman being described is African American and Toomer, who was...