“You have one body and one life to live and you only get this one shot – and that reality can drive you crazy.” Ottessa Moshfegh
Sanam Maher: The real Qandeel?

Sanam Maher: The real Qandeel?

Qandeel Baloch was the social-media siren who teased and titillated Pakistani society with her pouty posts and racy videos, empowering young women and outraging religious elders at every turn. Her highlights reel is well known: the failed audition on Pakistan Idol – all shrill voice, shocking pink leggings and fake...
Melanie Cantor: No regrets

Melanie Cantor: No regrets

 Well what would you do if you found out you had 90 days to live? Death and Other Happy Endings is nothing like as grim as that sounds. I was reminded of the opening to that Richard Curtis movie in which we see a sequence of people all arriving...
Mia Couto: Singular dualities

Mia Couto: Singular dualities

Mia Couto’s Woman of the Ashes is the first novel in a trilogy centred around the 1895 overthrow of southern Mozambique’s last emperor, Ngungunyane. As warring factions threaten to divide the country an unforeseen love affair unfolds between 15-year-old village girl Imani and exiled Portuguese sergeant Germano de Melo. Imani...
Tishani Doshi: Shifting tides

Tishani Doshi: Shifting tides

 There is nothing small about Tishani Doshi’s tightly wrought second novel Small Days and Nights – just as there is nothing small about India. Whether writing about its people, the scale of the challenges facing a country of epic unequal proportions, or simply describing the natural world on a...
Wayétu Moore: Liberia then and now

Wayétu Moore: Liberia then and now

Wayétu Moore’s She Would Be King is a vibrant historical novel about the tumultuous founding of Liberia, shot through with fantastical elements rooted in African fable. The heroine referenced in the title is wild, red-haired Gbessa [pronounced ‘Bessah’], who is cast from her Vai village because she was cursed at...
Laura Beatty: Insight and wonder

Laura Beatty: Insight and wonder

One comes away from meeting and talking with Laura Beatty with a combined sense of awe and the closest human affinity and immediacy. She possesses a formidable mind, a very composed and elegiac conversational style that one may only call a delicately poetic oral prose. The beginning of a thought...
The sea journal

The sea journal

The sea has been an endless source of fascination, at once both alluring and mysterious, a place of wonder and terror. The Sea Journal contains first-hand records by a great range of travellers of their encounters with strange creatures and new lands, full of dangers and delights, pleasures and perils....
Ottessa Moshfegh: Just one shot

Ottessa Moshfegh: Just one shot

Ottessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation, a New York Times bestseller shortlisted for the 2019 Wellcome Book Prize, is a darkly hilarious novel about narcotic hibernation and moneyed oblivion. The unnamed narrator is a recent graduate from New York’s Columbia University who has given up her underpaid job...
Stepping into the dark

Stepping into the dark

A lifelong passion for gothic novels led Sara Collins to give up a career in law and test her mettle as a fiction writer. We catch up with her in the midst of a whirlwind US tour ahead of publication of her hotly anticipated debut The Confessions of Frannie Langton....
Latest entries
New travels with myself and another

New travels with myself and another

Laura Beatty’s new book Lost Property, a nearly sublime hybrid between a novel and a philosophical essay, begins with an England in a state of utter crisis – social, humanitarian, political, cultural, a crisis of identity, values, place, purpose and meaning. Beatty’s heroine describes herself as tottering between being and non-being, reason and insanity. “At...
Food: Bigger than the plate

Food: Bigger than the plate

This new exhibition at the V&A’s Gallery 39 and North Court explores how innovative individuals, communities and organisations are radically reinventing how we grow, distribute and experience food. Taking visitors on a sensory journey through the food cycle, from compost to table, it poses questions about how the collective choices we make can lead to...
Things to do in Denver when you're a disaffected millennial

Things to do in Denver when you’re a disaffected millennial

Wake up at 6 am for your job downtown. You can commute or drive but at the cost of $6 per day for a light rail ticket you usually drive. And then you pay parking downtown – at the rate of $6 per day. Walk to work. If it is wintertime, you will not see...
“Angels you will see only when you’re dead. Possibly.”

“Angels you will see only when you’re dead. Possibly.”

Think back to when you were very young, still capable of looking at the world with wide, wondrous eyes. When books had a breathtaking pulse and three-dimensionality about them, and every page seemed like an invitation to a mystic dance – a summons to enter a world of grand enchantment, of dark, mysterious corners and...
Flight to Gaza

Flight to Gaza

My seatmate goes on talking as if we come from the same country. As if we share the same fears, the same constellations of film stars. As she recounts stories about the festival, my mind recalls televised scenes of the war – the live coverage of American attacks that sowed democracy across Iraq. The tonnes...
Homing in on Hopper

Homing in on Hopper

I have always been a bit sniffy about biographical fiction, the mining of a personal life for the sake of a story, particularly when that person is no longer around to defend him or herself. So how come I ended up writing a novel about one of the greatest artists of the 20th century –...
An unlikely avenger

An unlikely avenger

When you want to avoid gruesome images, you resort to euphemism. To say that an army has suffered great losses is more acceptable than describing the horror of an appalling hecatomb. Liberating oneself of someone’s presence generally means leaving him at the door, or avoiding spending time with him, but in a deeper sense it...
Docta puella

Docta puella

“This book is about a poet who disappeared, about a woman who pursued her career in a blaze of publicity, while leading a secret life that eventually destroyed her, and who left such a legacy of lies and evasion that her true story can only now be told,” writes Lucasta Miller in the preface of...
Coming in from the cold

Coming in from the cold

My father earned one of the highest security clearances attainable in the US Air Force. The true nature of his work was kept secret from myself, my siblings and my mother. In hindsight, it must have been difficult to come home in the evenings unable to discuss the events of the day. There must have...
A vision of eternity

A vision of eternity

There are infinitely more than fifteen ways of looking at Dante – we can see him as a historical figure, a radical maverick, the conscience of a Church and a State in dire crisis. He is the writer of poetry that many have come to see as the ultimate representation of the sublime, as well...