"When you think about something, when you remember something, it’s never linear, it’s kaleidoscopic. You remember someone and then another story comes." Négar Djavadi
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...
In too deep

In too deep

Having laid my son-in-law out for the count, I continue on my way. From the outside, anyone might think I’ve lost all feeling. Once upon a time, I knew myself well. I mean that my behaviour rarely surprised me. When you’ve experienced most situations, you also learn the correct responses...
Before all this

Before all this

Before all this there were phone calls, there were letters, there were postcards, there were badly printed posters in corner shop windows, there were crowded notice boards, there was proper conversation. There were names and numbers written in tipsy scrawl on the peeled-off backs of beermats. There was ink. There...
Louise Candlish: Location, location

Louise Candlish: Location, location

Louise Candlish’s twelfth novel Our House is an outstanding thriller that has been receiving high praise. I had the good fortune to meet Louise earlier this year in Bristol where we were both attending Crimefest. A few weeks later I received a copy of Our House in the post. Set...
City limits

City limits

They say everybody has at least one book inside them. I know I did once. The only question back then was which language it would be written in. I’ve introduced you to the in-laws, now meet my parents. Like the husband’s family, we all were born, live and will almost...
Puppetmasters

Puppetmasters

Do you ever have the feeling that somebody or something is influencing your life in some way? Making you do the foolish things that you know you really shouldn’t, providing snakes where in fact you should be going up ladders? You’re quite right. There is. The somebody is you, programmed...
Rachel Heng: Forever people

Rachel Heng: Forever people

Rachel Heng’s remarkable debut novel Suicide Club imagines a disturbing not-so-distant New York in which death is put on hold for those with wealth and power and the determination to cling on, while the majority are left gawping at the gates of immortality. Lea is a 100-year-old ‘lifer’ with a...
Reading art

Reading art

David Trigg’s Reading Art: Art for Book Lovers is an enchanting compendium of artworks that celebrate books and reading through 2,000 years of art history. Featuring almost 300 artworks from museums and collections around the world, it is an inspiring homage to the written word. A stunning survey of painting...
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Procedures

Procedures

Maria E never knew anyone to quit smoking without claiming that they’d been on three packs a day until just the day before. Nor did she know anyone to have their appendix removed without saying the surgeon claimed that if they’d arrived three minutes later, it would have burst and caused fatal peritonitis. Similarly, she...
Blood and feathers

Blood and feathers

Early in Tommy Orange’s impressive debut novel There There, young aspiring filmmaker Dene Oxendene gives an oral presentation to a panel of judges considering his pet project for a grant. Laying out his vision for a documentary about the lives and culture of the modern-day Urban Indian (the term used for Native Americans living in...
The reluctant romantic

The reluctant romantic

I didn’t set out to write a love story. In fact, I was startled when my agents Karolina Sutton and Lucy Morris chose to position my book as a love story. I said, are you sure it isn’t migrant literature disguised as time travel? Or a disquisition on the passage of time, wrapped in a...
Horses

Horses

Helli is sitting in the middle of the forest path watching me approach. Aladdin is a few metres further on, drenched in sweat, his flanks quivering. My horse slows of her own accord, allowing me to focus and regain control over myself, the reins, the situation. As soon as Scheherazade has dropped back to a...
How it begins

How it begins

Donna likes to remind Polly that she has to earn her keep, by entertaining Donna. “You’re such a drag,” Donna says. “Go do something daring so I can live vicariously.” Polly prefers to stay home and drink home-brew wine and watch TV with Donna’s two massive cats, Chicken and Noodles. “What happened today?” Donna yells...
With love and squalor

With love and squalor

Anna Maria Ortese’s Evening Descends Upon the Hills is a book that, Atlas-like, seems to bear on its shoulders the weight of the most overwhelming human sorrow – but also the burden of humanity’s “small, wretched acts of violence, an abyss of voices and events, tiny terrible gestures”, the unspeakable social stains and realities to...
Escaping wars and waves

Escaping wars and waves

Olivier Kugler’s intimate documentary drawings of refugees from Syria have established the award-winning artist as one of the world’s most important graphic reporters. Evoking the experiences of refugees he met in Iraqi Kurdistan, Greece, France, Germany, Switzerland and England, mostly on assignment for Médecins Sans Frontières, his beautifully observed portraits are combined with snatches of conversation and images of...
from Flood

from Flood

Clare Shaw’s third collection of poems ripples out from the 2015 floods that engulfed huge areas of Britain, including her then home town of Todmorden. Flood offers an eyewitness account of those events, finely interwoven with the breakdown of a relationship and wider themes of loss, destruction, unravelling and recovery.   Weather warning The weather’s...
Glimmers of destiny

Glimmers of destiny

In Mircea Eliade’s Gaudeamus, yet another precocious, pernicious, prescient adolescent, full of a sense of predestination and the promise of literary greatness, marches out into the world to audaciously forge life’s meaning in the smithy of his soul. In a narrative where Goethe’s Teutonic Young Werther and Wilhelm Meister meet a more Central European Stephen...
On translation

On translation

For some, translation is the poor cousin of literature, fool’s gold or last resort, a necessary evil if not an outright travesty. For others, it is the royal road to cross-cultural understanding and literary enrichment. Translation skirts the boundaries between art and craft, originality and replication, altruism and commerce, even between genius and hack work....