"The narrow alleys of pestilence and poverty run along the walls of the very richest in the land… in our current times, as the gap between rich and poor widens, there are many resonances across centuries to unearth.” Lucy Jago
Extracts
Bit by bit by bit

Bit by bit by bit

What happened? Everyone asked the question, had been asking since the election. They asked while watching the news, that storm of headlines, jump-cut footage of marches and speeches and hand-sharpied cardboard, an endless, swirling blizzard – a siege, really – of protests and counterprotests, action and reaction, people screaming at one another in the street,...
Bad boys

Bad boys

Author’s note: What you’re about to read isn’t meant to be a positive or negative image or metaphor of Paris. Whether good or bad, beyond or besides all the clichés, and despite its possible arrogance, this book is meant to be Paris.   One possible September Beau Patrick returned. Paris wasn’t there anymore. A year...
t + 0: 1944

t + 0: 1944

The light is grey and sullen; a smoulder, a flare choking on the soot of its own burning, and leaking only a little of its power into the visible spectrum. The rest is heat and motion. But for now the burn-line still creeps inside the warhead’s casing. It is a thread-wide front of change propagating...
The man in the yellow suit

The man in the yellow suit

In the middle of the summer of 1891 the most extraordinary things began happening in a small Norwegian coastal town. A stranger by the name of Nagel appeared, a singular character who shook the town by his eccentric behavior and then vanished as suddenly as he had come. At one point he had a visitor:...
The portraitist

The portraitist

I have to admit that I had a few colleagues with whom I would have preferred never to have crossed paths. Sherman was one; the mere thought of him fills me with bitterness and disgust. Augustus Frederick Sherman. How could I possibly forget him? I can still picture him, stout and saturnine, with his prophet’s...
Opportunity

Opportunity

A proper job! At Waterstones! I’m thirty-one! Now I have a debit card and everything! But only just. On probation, I arrive three hours late after spending a night in a patch of nettles in Cannon Hill Park (Spiritus/Poles). After running a spike a long way into my flip-flopped big toe on the building site...
Escape

Escape

Teresa was, on the whole, a serious, earnest woman, with a slightly uneasy smile that barely lifted the corners of her mouth. Her black eyes always seemed to be trying to wrest a secret from the person they observed. She had a thick mane of hair with a streak of grey on the right temple....
Harassment

Harassment

It takes him a few seconds to recognize her. And even then, he isn’t sure she recognizes him. Whether she recognized him earlier from his name or only when he came into the room. Or maybe she’s embarrassed. You can’t tell anything from looking at her. She doesn’t blush. Doesn’t stammer. She continues asking him...
Author's lunch

Author’s lunch

Inviting an author to lunch is one of the publishing world’s great rituals. Authors receive an invitation four or five times a year. Since there are many authors in one publishing house, that means a lot of lunches. Editors feed their authors like fat misanthropic cats they’re hoping to butter up and make purr. The...
A proposition

A proposition

That’s when she arrives. A skinny stick slides her head through the curtain and opens it with a fluid movement. A skinny stick with long disheveled hair at the end. Hamid told me she was the neighbor’s niece but I hadn’t imagined she would be so young. She’s standing in front of the door and...