"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
Teeth

Teeth

From vampires and tooth fairies to barber-surgeons and professional dentists, Wellcome Collection’s summer exhibition traces the evolution of our relationship with our teeth and what they say about us. Featuring over 150 objects from cartoons and caricatures to protective amulets, toothpaste advertisements and a range of chairs, drills and training...
Négar Djavadi: Neither here nor there

Négar Djavadi: Neither here nor there

French-Iranian screenwriter Négar Djavadi’s illuminating, richly entertaining debut novel Disoriental combines a sweeping family history in 20th-century Iran with an intimate study of identity and motherhood in contemporary Paris. Kimiâ Sadr is a lesbian punk rocker who spent her teenage years in the French capital after the family fled the...
Finding stories in America's heartland

Finding stories in America’s heartland

Ideas come to writers in myriad ways. Anything is game, be it a newspaper article, an overheard conversation or a story passed down through a family for generations. The more open-ended the better, as it gives the writer more room to develop the story in their way. Novels may be...
Wonders beyond words

Wonders beyond words

A conversation with Todd Haynes, Brian Selznick, Oakes Fegley and Jaden Michael. Todd Haynes’ latest film Wonderstruck is adapted from Brian Selznick’s part-graphic, part-prose children’s novel about a mysterious connection in New York City between two deaf children set 50 years apart. In 1927 Rose (Millicent Simmonds) is the estranged...
A splendid shiny car

A splendid shiny car

The boy had to be silent again. Daddy said, with a frown as always: “Don’t talk so loudly.” “He can talk,” interjected his mother, “but you have to be quiet and don’t boom in your deep bass.” But what’s the use of talking alone, thought the boy, if Daddy isn’t...
Lily Bailey: OCD and me

Lily Bailey: OCD and me

As a child and teenager, London-born Lily Bailey suffered from severe obsessive compulsive disorder. From as early as she can remember, there was always a second voice in her head, filling her brain with intrusive, uncomfortable thoughts convincing her she was a bad person liable to bring only pain, grief...
Latest entries
Not alone

Not alone

In the playground, fads come and go consistently, without apparent supervision, like waves on a beach. We had Pokémon, we had Furbies; we had aliens encased in strange plastic eggs. Then at some point, when we were five, imaginary friends took off as a craze. People would save spaces at the lunch table for someone...
Beyond imagining

Beyond imagining

Willa Cather in Death Comes for The Archbishop was able to create imaginary conversations and actions that gave her main character (based on Father Jean Marie Latour) and story depth and motivation, metaphors and textures, a sense of fullness and believability, that may not have been accessible to her had she wrote the book as...
Crying wolf

Crying wolf

Millennial moments are full of auguries and momentum, real promise or sly illusions. They trick us into a sense of tabula rasa, into an exalted feeling of weightlessness from the past and its responsibilities, its phantoms and nightmares, but also from the effort to match and sustain its legacy of greatness and wisdom. It is...
Glimpses of unfamiliar France

Glimpses of unfamiliar France

Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan is the title of an idiosyncratic account of Japan as a country, as a philosophy, as a world and way of life, as the seductive Other seen through Western eyes. It was written by a rather remarkable man, Lefkadio Hearn (who became Koizumi Yakumo), now mostly forgotten. It is an intimate...
The Grand Casino Estoril

The Grand Casino Estoril

He opened his eyes to darkness. He was lying on his back among the crumpled sheets and crushed scattered pillows. He did not know whether it was the church bells that woke him up or the blackbird singing in the laurel bush under his window. He did not even know what time of day it...
Tough love

Tough love

Joe felt something behind him. It was the presence of life and the coming of violence, and that anticipation, that sensitivity, enabled him to turn in time and catch the blackjack on his shoulder, which was better than taking it on the back of his head. Also, it was his left shoulder and Joe was...
Riddled words, puzzled lives

Riddled words, puzzled lives

There is something deliciously provocative about a work of literary fiction that begins with the statement “If it sounds like writing, rewrite it”. It is a pronouncement that holds the reader in irresistible tension: will this prove to be the most flawless of narratives or be exposed instead as the most bombastic of bathetic ironies?...
Step by step

Step by step

Hannah Vincent’s The Weaning is a gripping suspense novel about a psychotic childminder who finds herself the perfect job. But as Bobbi seeks to fill the baby-shaped hole in her life, events spiral out of control. Hannah worked as a childminder while she was writing the novel, and here are her tips for writing from...
New happiness

New happiness

There is a Latvian goddess of happiness, Laima. It was most probably she who instilled the Latvian language with its rhythmical lilt, its roguish plosives and stops, the stark, spare melodiousness of its musicality. It was most probably she who lured generations of Latvians, both ancient and modern, to their native forests and fields –...
Petra Hůlová: Gender agendas

Petra Hůlová: Gender agendas

Multiple award-winning Czech novelist and playwright Petra Hůlová’s Three Plastic Rooms takes the form of a foul-mouthed monologue by an unnamed prostitute in city very like Prague, who holds forth on matters regarding her profession, her punters and society at large. It is her second novel to be translated into English, the original Czech edition...