“There is no centre anymore. We live in a multipolar world, and culture reflects that." Fatima Bhutto
Homesick for another land

Homesick for another land

Musician and cartoonist Carol Isaacs’ graphic memoir The Wolf of Baghdad traces her family roots among Iraq’s departed Jewish community. Wordless chapters are bookmarked by the testimonies of family members who lived in and were exiled from Baghdad. Born and raised in London, fuelled by family anecdotes and customs, Carol...
Moving on from murder

Moving on from murder

“Massacre at White House Farm: Suicide girl kills twins and parents,” screamed the front page of the Daily Express on 8 August 1985. Throughout the British press, the horrific events left no room for doubt. “A farming family affectionately dubbed ‘the Archers’ was slaughtered in a bloodbath yesterday,” continued the...
Burhan Sönmez: Variations on a life

Burhan Sönmez: Variations on a life

“They call me Boratin, and they show me my ID card so I’ll believe it. They think my parents’ names on the ID card, my date and place of birth are all I need to know who I am. But I don’t want to know who I am, I want...
Fatima Bhutto: Culture shifts

Fatima Bhutto: Culture shifts

In New Kings of the World, with customary wit and insight, Fatima Bhutto investigates how Bollywood, Turkish soap operas and K-pop are leading an emerging cultural movement that represents the biggest challenge to America’s monopoly on soft power since the end of the Second World War. The film below touches...
Wendy Erskine: Beyond normal

Wendy Erskine: Beyond normal

Wendy Erskine’s debut story collection Sweet Home, published last year by The Stinging Fly Press in Ireland and since picked up by Picador, combines intelligent lucidity, humour, fear, compassion and above all, what is it to be human. The stories are complicated yet simple; hilarious yet chilling; they deal with...
Etgar Keret: Something weird

Etgar Keret: Something weird

Fly Already, Etgar Keret’s first story collection for seven years, hits a familiarly outlandish and infectious groove. The title story relates a potential suicide jump as witnessed by a young boy whose innocent, excited observations to his father are set against a backdrop of grief, guilt, recovery and misunderstanding. It...
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Disciplines of disobedience

Disciplines of disobedience

‘Let’s do this copper bastard over.’ These are the words my father was accused of saying before his arrest on the anti-Vietnam War protest of 30 March 1968 as it progressed towards Grosvenor Square, then site of the American Embassy. The officer who testified to overhearing him say these words in one of the many...
The short cut

The short cut

I look so much like her, it upsets them. They think they’re seeing her, seeing her returned, seeing her returning. They take me for a revenant. I’ve never returned, though; I haven’t seen my family since then. Since I can’t remember when. Actually I do know, since the death of our grandmother. They talk to...
Marvellous and mischievous

Marvellous and mischievous

Marvellous and Mischievous: Literature’s Young Rebels (8 November 2019 to 1 March 2020) is a free British Library exhibition spotlighting famous rebels in children’s literature. Featuring such perennial favourites as Tracy Beaker, Pippi Longstocking, Jane Eyre and Matilda, as well as new characters including Omar from Planet Omar, Billy from Billy and the Beast and...
American spirit

American spirit

A couple of months ago, I met up with my friend Dorothy. We’d been very close back when we worked at Friday’s together, she as a bartender and I as a waitress, but we hadn’t seen each other in a long time. Maybe three years, since just after her son was born and I quit....
I'll sing when you sleep

I’ll sing when you sleep

And so too might cocks, falcons, and other birds of prey, which have been forced into warlike battle at the hands of man, be armed like knights. Treatise on falconry and other arts, 1386 He steps into the ring and notes with apprehension that his opponent has spurs curved like Moorish swords. His armour, sharp,...
Louisa Treger: Unconventional lives

Louisa Treger: Unconventional lives

Set in Italy, England and Rhodesia, Louisa Treger’s The Dragon Lady is a work of historical fiction based on the life story of a truly remarkable, yet little known woman named Virginia Courtauld. It is a sumptuous tale of murder and intrigue, which spans several decades following the First World War, but is largely focused...
Nowhere, or wherever you are

Nowhere, or wherever you are

I wanted to be a writer when I was little. There was no question of it; I knew loads of words, and it hadn’t crossed my mind that there was anything more to it than putting them together on a blank (or blank-ish) surface. I was a writer. I wasn’t prepared to wake up one...
Capital Crime: Debut festival of the year

Capital Crime: Debut festival of the year

Like so many of life’s wonders, Capital Crime was conceived in the back of a New York taxi cab. The idea came to David Headley and Adam Hamdy while they were attending Thriller Fest. A world-class city like London needed its own high-profile crime fiction festival and they were going to be the ones who...
Corsets of conventionality

Corsets of conventionality

Zofia Nałkowska (1884–1954) was one of the most important Polish writers of the first half of the twentieth century, prominent in public life and a figure of European significance, whose major works have been translated into English only since 2000. She was a pioneer of psychological modernism. Apart from novels, short stories and plays, Nałkowska...
Laura Lippman: From all sides

Laura Lippman: From all sides

Set in mid-1960s Baltimore, Laura Lippman’s latest standalone Lady in the Lake is a compassionate snapshot of a city in cultural and political flux. Though most of the focus is on Maddie Schwartz’s transformation from a Jewish housewife living in an upscale neighbourhood to a hardened newspaper reporter residing in a downtown flat, Lippman constantly...