"Hwang Sok-yong has a knack of presenting us with stories that look like the simple jottings of an idle, curious man... yet each phrase almost is invested with the power of a parable." Mika Provata-Carlone
John Lanchester: Behind the barricades

John Lanchester: Behind the barricades

John Lanchester’s The Wall is a dystopian vision of post-climate-collapse Britain. As the seas have risen, all the world’s beaches and low-lying communities have been submerged, and vast displaced populations are cast adrift on the oceans in a perilous search of safe harbour. In common with other still-habitable territories, Britain’s...
Wedding plans

Wedding plans

Mrs Binat’s ambitions for her daughters were fairly typical: groom them into marriageable material and wed them off to no less than princes and presidents. Before their fall, her husband had always assured her that, no matter what a mess Alys or any of the girls became, they would fare...
Just sittin’ here doin’ time

Just sittin’ here doin’ time

When my mother got home, the four of us would head out to dinner, and twice my sister, Rachel, joined us. It felt sometimes like it was the old days again, and other times a little strained, as though we were in a play about a family who all hold...
Fantasia in F minor

Fantasia in F minor

Breathless, they sank into the armchairs in the Great Room. While Lenny, shaken by a new coughing fit, gasped for air, Hermin began a feverish search for a subject, any subject, capable of guaranteeing a normal conversation. The silence must not be allowed to drag on and on again; topics...
Claire Fuller: The female gaze

Claire Fuller: The female gaze

Claire Fuller’s third novel Bitter Orange is a delicious read that lingers in the reader’s subconscious long after the final page is turned. It’s the summer of 1969 and Frances, Peter and Cara are camping out at Lyntons, a once-grand, neoclassical mansion that they’re surveying for its new American owner....
The sins of our future

The sins of our future

Many years ago, a young boy from an affluent Egyptian family was travelling with his parents by train to their summer house somewhere deep down the valley of the River Nile. This was a journey he had made many times as he grew older. Each time, the curtains of their...
Cats on the page

Cats on the page

Cats on the Page brings familiar and much-loved feline favourites together with the eclectic and unexpected to celebrate the myriad ways in which cats have captured the cultural imagination for hundreds of years. Through an array of poetry, artwork, fables and fairy tales from around the world, this free exhibition,...
Hatchet job

Hatchet job

Yes, of course, I know my rights. I have the right to remain silent. I have the right to talk to an attorney. If I can’t afford an attorney, one will be appointed for me. Yes, I know. In fact, I’m sure every halfwit kid with a TV for a...
A hunger artist

A hunger artist

In the past few decades public interest in the art of fasting has drastically declined. While it used to be very profitable to put on big, stand-alone exhibitions, doing so today would be completely impossible. It was another time. Back then, the whole city would get caught up in what...
Animal

Animal

Animal: Exploring the Zoological World is a visually stunning and broad-ranging exploration and celebration of humankind’s ongoing fascination with the world’s remarkable fauna. Since our very first moments on earth, we have been compelled to make images of the curious beasts around us – whether as sources of food, danger,...
Shadows and elevations

Shadows and elevations

With his camera and notebook, Jack London circles Hawksmoor’s Christ Church. He does not look up at the portico, the threatening mass of columns, ledges and alcoves. The Mayan dagger of the steeple. He does not step beyond the defensive railings. He stays outside. A photograph from distance, in which...
Latest entries
A death in the neighbourhood

A death in the neighbourhood

Biljana Jovanović’s Dogs and Others is strong medicine. It depicts a young person’s attempt to ‘invent her childhood’ and ‘liberate her memory’ while she negotiates a bohemian, urban existence in Yugoslavia in the 1970s; it is more than graphic, and painful, and awkward at times: it is a tale of catastrophe, really and truly annihilating...
Loving Milena

Loving Milena

At the beginning of April, Little River came over with Milena; he twisted at the waist, pulled his head into his shoulders, smiled as condescendingly as ever, and said: ‘This is my good friend Milena… And this is Lidia, and Danilo. I was telling you about them. Now come meet Granny…’ Until then, Čeda of...
An alternate story

An alternate story

It turns out Chiara is a member of a group of Hollywood types who gather every few years or so in the Catskills. In a woodsy agricultural setting, Chiara’s group plays parlor games and captures ghosts in séances and commands lunar apogees and exhibits all sorts of megalomaniac tendencies, in small and unreported doses, usually...
Black is the badge of hell

Black is the badge of hell

“Black is the badge of hell / the hue of dungeons and the school of night,” laments Ferdinand, King of Navarre in Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour Lost. Some versions of the text offer scowl, style or suit instead of school, and one is tempted to think that Stephen Greenblatt would have boldly and keenly pressed for...
Emma Curtis: Face to face

Emma Curtis: Face to face

Writers find inspiration in many places, some more interesting than others. A quick poll on Twitter was met with the following responses: an overheard conversation in a cafe, a photo of a flood on the wall of a local pub, a piece of flash fiction, a news article, and a chance encounter with Martin Scorsese...
The genius of too much and too little

The genius of too much and too little

“They call them sculptures because they’re made of marble or iron or wood, but they’re really yarns, brief stories from the past that got stuck in your throat, pills that wouldn’t quite go down; you blurt them, mumble them, ruminate over them. And then they show them in Paris.” Whether narratives of an inner life,...
Darker than a deep silence

Darker than a deep silence

It was the dead of night – more precisely two o’clock on the morning of Monday 29th September 1893 – when Augusto De Boer and his daughter set off. Such was Jole’s emotion, she could feel her heart bursting. Her hands were cold and sweaty and moved in an awkward way. She had got out...
Unlocking vanishing voices

Unlocking vanishing voices

Travelling through Burma (Myanmar) in the mid-1990s, Jan-Philipp Sendker, a young German journalist for Stern and other publications, is given as a parting gift a tattered old book, carefully restored by a local bookseller who has spent many days sticking small pieces of paper over its hole-ridden pages, and retracing by hand the obliterated printed...
The clever monkeys

The clever monkeys

A good long time ago there lived a man who wove and sold hats of straw. All of the farmers needed his hats to keep their heads out of the sun while they worked in the fields, so business was generally good. One day after finishing a batch of hats he packed them in a...
Hauntings on the home front

Hauntings on the home front

If my recent reading list is anything to go by, crime novels that touch on the paranormal are growing in popularity. Often set in houses that evoke an atmosphere of fear and dread, many of these storylines have elements found in Gothic horror. The reader is left to decide whether the house is truly haunted...