"In my experience of writing – and of life – the frenzy of dreams and that of form always go together." Iosi Havilio
Kate Murray-Browne: Buyer beware!

Kate Murray-Browne: Buyer beware!

Kate Murray-Browne’s brilliantly suspenseful first novel The Upstairs Room has been described as a ‘property horror story’. Eleanor and Richard, an editor and lawyer respectively, move into a large four-bedroom house in East London with their two small daughters. The house is at the upper limit of what they can...
The first bride

The first bride

They went crazy for weddings after the war. All weekend long, the shooting of impotent bullets into the air, the aggravating honking of horns and the incessant drone of the traditional Albanian music. As if they were so glad to be alive that they wanted everyone from Podujevo to Pristina...
Iosi Havilio: Getting away with it

Iosi Havilio: Getting away with it

Iosi Havilio’s Petite Fleur is a virtuoso meditation on life, death, depression, anxiety, temptation, recovery and miraculous resurrection. Narrator José is down in the dumps when his job at a fireworks factory goes up in flames, but as the gloom lifts he gains an unexpected talent for guilt-free murder. Establishing...
Suspicious country

Suspicious country

Right after the diagnosis, I find it nearly impossible to read. I can’t think clearly, and I don’t have the patience for the development of other people’s ideas and images. “Yeah, I had that, too,” my mom says when I mention it to her. “I did a lot of staring...
In the shadow of Poe

In the shadow of Poe

It’s commonplace to credit Edgar Allan Poe with inventing the modern mystery story with his trio of tales featuring the Parisian detective C. August Dupin. Poe’s innovation explains why to this very day the annual awards given by the Mystery Writers Association are called the Edgars. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle...
Diksha Basu: On the money

Diksha Basu: On the money

Diksha Basu’s debut novel The Windfall is a highly entertaining Indian comedy of manners. Family, friendship, identity, romance, a Swarovski-embellished sofa, worthless sons and insecurity in all its forms make up this sharp comic tale. The Jha family are new millionaires, thanks to the sale of Mr Jha’s internet start-up...
Latest entries
The summer Smiley saved me

The summer Smiley saved me

In the summer of 1989, breaking up with a man I had been engaged to marry, I flew to Taipei. I didn’t have a job, but I was sure I could teach English. I didn’t have a place to live, but I had the address of a hostel with hundreds of beds. I had a...
Never a dull word

Never a dull word

In April 2015 a delightful story by Fleur Jaeggy, ‘The Saltwater House’, appeared in my inbox. As I read it the Italian seemed to turn into English spontaneously in my brain. It had been sent by a friend in Milan to a friend in New York who then forwarded it to me. It was a...
Cat

Cat

Observing others is always interesting. On a train, in airports, at conferences, while waiting in line, when sitting across from someone at a table; on any occasion, in fact, that people flow into. Even someone who doesn’t travel or is very much alone will at some point go out on the street for half an...
Best intentions

Best intentions

S.V. Berlin’s debut novel The Favourite is a compelling story about rivalries and secrets as siblings Edward and Isobel are thrown together after a long absence by the death of their mother and the need to sort through the family home. She shares her tips for realising your writing ambitions.   1. Read, read, read...
Description

Description

Joseph and his friend Kevin were driving to New Paltz for a hike. Kevin was driving with one hand, elbow out; Joseph had his whole arm out, hand on roof. They had finished their MFAs in creative writing weeks earlier and they felt great. Kevin had just published an essay in a big-deal magazine that...
Cretan love song

Cretan love song

Imagine you’re part of the Minoan civilization, just hanging out with your effete painted face down by the water’s edge on the north shore of Crete, circa 1600 BC. Biting flies knit the breeze around your head. Wavelets slap discreetly ashore. When the volcanic island of Thera detonates seventy miles to the north, the concussion,...
Summer at Sheep's Head

Summer at Sheep’s Head

Nick Laird’s latest novel Modern Gods is a provocative tale of two Northern Irish sisters who trying to negotiate unexpected challenges of faith, family, guilt and repentance – both at home and in the depths of a Papua New Guinea rainforest. He answers our quickfire Q&A on a recent London visit. Where are you now?...
Not selling anything

Not selling anything

“Hello, my name is Belle. I am calling on behalf of—” They hang up. “Hello, my name is Ariel. I am calling behalf of Krippler Incorporated, a market research institute. Today we are conducting—” “On behalf of wha’?” replies a woman with a heavy southern accent. “On behalf of Krippler Incorporated, a market research institute.”...
It is us they burn

It is us they burn

In the course of the 2005 youth riots that broke out across France, thirty-two libraries were burnt down or so badly ravaged that their contents had to be thrown away. If one looks at the period covering 1996 to 2013 the tally rises to more than seventy. Libraries come under attack in the banlieues again...
Doctor's orders

Doctor’s orders

A few days ago, I was fished out of the Seine just in the nick of time. Two feet from the bank, to be precise, but that’s more than far enough to sink into the mud and float to the surface a couple of weeks later, limp and soggy as the hunks of bread people...