"There is no centre anymore. We live in a multipolar world, and culture reflects that." Fatima Bhutto
Avni Doshi: Mother and daughter

Avni Doshi: Mother and daughter

Avni Doshi’s debut novel Burnt Sugar, longlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize immediately prior to UK publication, is a compelling exploration of the ties that bind a mother and her daughter, and of an irreconcilable longing for self-expression in both of them that signifies betrayal. As a young woman, Tara...
Frances Cha: Face to face

Frances Cha: Face to face

Frances Cha’s bold and unsettling debut novel If I Had Your Face tells the story of four young women attempting to navigate present-day Seoul. Kyuri is a not-entirely-natural ‘room salon’ beauty whose yearning for a true relationship with a wealthy client threatens her work and status; Kyuri’s flatmate Miho is...
Plagued

Plagued

Emma Donoghue’s The Pull of the Stars tells the story of overworked nurse Julia Power, her eager young helper Bridie Sweeney, and the real-life figure of Kathleen Lynn, a Sinn Féin politician, activist and medical doctor, as they battle the Great Flu of 1918 in the emergency maternity ward of...
Anbara Salam: Desire and betrayal

Anbara Salam: Desire and betrayal

Anbara Salam’s second novel Belladonna is a mesmerising story of friendship, obsession, secrets and identity. In conservative Connecticut in the summer of 1956, 15-year-old Bridget Ryan delights in her friendship with cool, enigmatic, beautiful and brazen Isabella Crowley. The following summer, they both get the chance to spend a year...
Sanaë Lemoine: Brittle love

Sanaë Lemoine: Brittle love

Sanaë Lemoine’s debut novel The Margot Affair is narrated by the illegitimate teenage daughter of leading French actress Anouk Louve and prominent politician Bertrand Lapierre. Margot has grown up under a shroud of silence and shame, and as she emerges into adulthood she treads an independent path that threatens to...
Yun Ko-eun: Into the wreckage

Yun Ko-eun: Into the wreckage

Yun Ko-eun’s disconcerting and darkly funny novel The Disaster Tourist follows the misfortunes of Yona, a disgruntled coordinator for the travel company Jungle. Yona’s employer organizes guided tours to destinations that have been traumatized by disaster – earthquakes, floods, fires and war, amongst dozens of other categories. When she threatens...
Jean-Baptiste Andrea: The child within

Jean-Baptiste Andrea: The child within

Jean-Baptiste Andrea’s A Hundred Million Years and a Day is the fictitious story of fifty-something Stan, a middle-aged fossil-hunter who, in the summer of 1954, is driven to undertake a hazardous expedition to a mountain glacier to discover the whereabouts of a mythical ‘dragon’; a probable dinosaur skeleton embedded beneath...
Nick Bradley: Tokyo calling

Nick Bradley: Tokyo calling

Nick Bradley’s debut novel The Cat and The City offers a dizzying ride through the underbelly of a Tokyo normally invisible to outsiders. Artfully combining different styles of popular storytelling – from horror, Sci-Fi and fantasy to detective fiction and even manga – the lives of a disparate band of...
Latest entries
The hunter who crossed a continent

The hunter who crossed a continent

The last hunter in the village of Lalaoran, which in my dialect of Paiwanese means “the first ray of dawn’s light”, has pairs of hand and feet that were given to him by the ancestors, and he has wisdom that helps him coexist with the mountain. When I was a boy, what I liked to...
Shooting

Shooting

On one of the training courses I got sent on the instructor said, “The thing about guns is that they’re a great way to turn money into noise.” Everyone nodded. It seemed like a smart thing to say. I guess he was trying to get us to appreciate the wastage in firing your gun off...
A visit to the trenches

A visit to the trenches

One day I heard that some of the British drivers were going to visit the trenches in the University City, and I implored them to let me go with them. My good friend Jack agreed, provided I could get my pass fixed up. For this I needed a recommendation from somebody in a position of...
Dante's nose

Dante’s nose

Early in the morning of September 1321, Dante died of malaria in Ravenna. Looking at the images (pictorial or sculptural) that we have of him, and considering the corpus of his work, especially the impact he was to have on our understanding of European culture in the centuries to come, one would think this would...
Here and there

Here and there

One of the things we do as poets is to try to preserve experiences, people, places important to us, in an effort to save them from time’s erasure. In Passport to Here and There, I’ve been more conscious of this than in some of my other books and felt that a short introduction to my...
Sleepwalker

Sleepwalker

Martin can still hear the way Vickie screamed that night when they’d set the bone. He winces. She was just a little girl, then. Downstairs, pots and pans knock against each other. The cupboard closes. A passing car smears a phantom window over his walls. It leaves behind darkness and the gray outlines of things...
Atlantic

Atlantic

Married as we were to your brown untourist beaches, unconcerned with the many shores you touched, as children, we thought that you, Atlantic, belonged to us, your below-sea-level offspring.   See us playing cricket, turn-down bucket making wicket – ball a spin-off of empire – lost in the applauding waves for six. At Easter, to...
Inside and out

Inside and out

Clarence knew man lived in the shadows and that he’d lived in them for so long he didn’t even realise he lived in them. That, more to the point, man was shadow. Had become it. Had evolved to be it. That’s how disconnected man had become in our hero’s eyes. Man had castrated himself long...
Home truths

Home truths

‘You can’t downsize a potato field… agus sé sin an fhadhb,’ the Chief called from his tractor that night when I went out with a sandwich. The Chief ’s parents – who were burnt to slags in a hay barn when he was a youth – were Gaelgoirs. He kept on the bit of Irish...
Modern fiction

Modern fiction

Reading Andrea Marcolongo’s The Ingenious Language: Nine Epic Reasons to Love Greek in certain ways lives up to its English title in providing an epic experience (the Italian original’s simpler 9 ragioni… emphasises the more light-heartedly catchy, yet didactic underpinnings of the text, rather than its epic claims, significance or proportions). As Marcolongo reminds us...