"In my experience of writing – and of life – the frenzy of dreams and that of form always go together." Iosi Havilio
September 2014
Martin Rowson draws up a storm

Martin Rowson draws up a storm

Martin Rowson’s political cartoons for the Guardian, The Mirror and other papers are visually bold and acutely scathing of our MPs’ pitiful attempts to run the country. As we meet around the time of the shaky Scottish independence referendum, he is entertainingly  candid about his run-ins with those in power. Mark R: Looking back over...
Crime and puzzlement

Crime and puzzlement

The reader was at first surprised, then shocked, as the criminal Raskolnikov was abruptly slain in the middle of the street, right before her eyes. Sonya, the hooker with the heart of gold, shot him through the heart. It happened midway through an essay on the Dostoevsky classic. The reader’s name was Ella Amanda Milana....
News from elsewhere

News from elsewhere

Here a list of books that are set in various locations in the developing world. It includes both fiction and non-fiction – and novels inspired by factual events. There is a heartbreaking true story from the Khmer Rouge period in Cambodia, and another written by British journalist and war correspondent Jon Swain, who was immortalised...
Recompense

Recompense

“Something I need you to look at,” Grandfather said, pointing to the bedroom. “We’re both tired. Let’s do it another day,” Slava said, wanting to return to the living room. “Another day with you?” Grandfather said. “Another day with you is a year from now. The deadline is soon. It’ll take only a moment.” Grandfather...
Observers and dreamers

Observers and dreamers

We gave Tom Barbash the task of winnowing down his ten favourite short stories. “Impossible,” he countered, “but here are some great ones that came to mind.”   Alice Munro: ‘Chance’ A young woman on a cross-country train trip decides to decline polite conversation with an affable stranger. From this seemingly minor moment a series...
Blood, Bible, Brer Rabbit and The Bear

Blood, Bible, Brer Rabbit and The Bear

In my neck of the woods, so to speak – the southern United States – the question is often posed, especially by people who are from away: “Why is there such a rich literary tradition in a region known to most of the world (those who know it at all) as poor, and religiously and...
Jörg Tittel and John Aggs: Taking the Mickey

Jörg Tittel and John Aggs: Taking the Mickey

In May, we ran some pages from Jörg Tittel and John Aggs’ shoot-em-up theme park satire Ricky Rouse Has a Gun, then available only in a limited-run special edition hardback. As the paperback is launched, I catch up with the pair – and a stranger in a giant mouse suit. What was the initial spark...
Let the reader in

Let the reader in

I only have one tip for writing that I feel strongly about, and that is to write something that allows space for the reader. The reader is a living, breathing presence in the novel – not a particular reader for whose tastes you must write, but a notional one: a mind that lives among your...
Elena Ferrante's shadow lives

Elena Ferrante’s shadow lives

Elena Ferrante writes beautifully. She writes honestly, powerfully, with directness and unflinching immediacy. In My Brilliant Friend and The Story of a New Name, the first two of her Neapolitan novels, she writes about a world which no longer belongs to what we might call our ‘reality’; the world of the fifties and sixties, of...
The Coalition Book

The Coalition Book

Since 2010, Martin Rowson has been documenting the weekly failings of the Tory-Lib Dem coalition in the Guardian, the Morning Star, Tribune and many other newspapers and magazines. The Coalition Book collects his most brutally funny cartoons from a period that began with a promise of a ‘new politics’ and quickly descended into riots, phone-hacking,...