"The West doesn’t understand radicalism. It’s anger, isolation, alienation, pain – that’s what drives young people to take up arms against the world. Not religion." Fatima Bhutto
Fatima Bhutto: Lost hearts and souls

Fatima Bhutto: Lost hearts and souls

Fatima Bhutto’s second novel The Runaways is a provocative, astute and ever-timely exploration of what makes three young people in Pakistan and England reject the society that raised them and sign up to the war against the West. Anita, growing up in a sprawling Karachi slum, aims to better herself...
Ece Temelkuran: Disrupt the disrupters

Ece Temelkuran: Disrupt the disrupters

 Desperate, confused, bored and exhausted. These are all words that most of us could relate to when we think of modern-day politics. Have we lost the plot? According to Ece Temelkuran, a prominent critical political commentator, we most certainly have but we are not alone. In her ominously titled...
Sheena Kamal: The rage that simmers

Sheena Kamal: The rage that simmers

It All Falls Down is the second in what will hopefully turn out to be a long-running series of crime novels by Canadian author Sheena Kamal. Once again focused on an enigmatic female protagonist named Nora Watts, it is a worthy follow up to Kamal’s critically acclaimed debut Eyes Like...
Visions and monsters

Visions and monsters

The Monstrous Child, which has just completed a very successful run at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Theatre, is one of the first and most audacious examples of a new genre: highly evocative classical opera especially written for teenage audiences. Adapted from the YA novel of the same name by...
Leïla Slimani: We are all monsters

Leïla Slimani: We are all monsters

 Leïla Slimani has been in huge demand on the global literary circuit since winning the Prix Goncourt in 2016 with her second novel Chanson douce, which was published in English last year as Lullaby (and in the US as The Perfect Nanny), translated by Sam Taylor. A worldwide bestseller,...
Mothers, daughters and make-believe

Mothers, daughters and make-believe

Whistle in the Dark, Emma Healey’s highly acclaimed follow-up to 2014’s Costa First Novel Award-winning Elizabeth is Missing, is now out in paperback. She fills us in on her daily routines and favourite reading, and explains why she is hesitant about meeting her literary heroes, preferring to confer with their...
The supper

The supper

I bite the cookie I’d slowly brought to my mouth; it breaks, like bones being crushed. I grind it and picture the lattice pattern on its surface coming apart, reminding me of the game my grandfather taught me and invited me to play on many afternoons. Cookie, lattice, crushed bones....
The crossing

The crossing

The girls on the top deck brush the hair from their faces. The hazy blue mountain ranges, rising on both sides of the Strait. The places you will never go, the life there. Ilham’s eyes wander over the mountains of the Rif, the country they are leaving behind. Why did...
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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 of an oversensitive nature must...
New directions of our past

New directions of our past

It used to be that as a year came to a close and a new one began, an unwritten law beyond remembrance or time also called for acts of similar closure and commencement on our part. A little before, or perhaps slightly after the virtual timekeeping of our humanity went through its annual rites of...
A remarkable woman

A remarkable woman

As I made the final corrections to the proofs of my debut novel Attend, I was asked by my publisher whether I wanted to include a dedication. Having toyed with some names – a few people in my life I thought might fit the bill, the idea came to me that I should dedicate this...
William Ryan: Seeking answers to the darkness

William Ryan: Seeking answers to the darkness

William Ryan’s historical thriller A House of Ghosts has been receiving high praise in the press and from readers. I’m willing to bet the stunning cover design, featuring an embossed gold-leaf image of Blackwater Abbey, has played a part in the novel’s success. Stars flicker in the night sky and stylised rays of light fan...
Kingly reads and mistletoes, yule logs, childish games and silent nights

Kingly reads and mistletoes, yule logs, childish games and silent nights

As the year 2018 draws to a dumbfounding or resounding close, the words to speak the tales of both tragedy and joy become perhaps the most precious of gifts. Especially for young – or not so young – ears and eyes searching for a meaningful narrative, a thread of sense through a life whose text...
German Calendar No December

German Calendar No December

German Calendar No December is a candid and reflective coming-of-age tale about learning to navigate the world with the help of good music, good books, good friends and a touch of courage. Olivia Evezi’s childhood is a happy one; her days are spent listening to highlife records and poring over colourful postcards from her mother’s...
Sensations and sensibilities

Sensations and sensibilities

Imogen Hermes Gowar’s debut novel The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock is a spellbinding and widely acclaimed tale of curiosities, desires, seduction and obsession, centring around the docks, coffee shops, parlours and brothels of late 18th-century London. She offers a peek inside her southeast London home on a typical writing day. Where are you now? On...
Sons of the jungle

Sons of the jungle

Flanking the procession of those who only recently crossed the great border, tramping beneath the thin, constant drizzle of rain that has begun to muddy the paths through the jungle, the two boys who were born here and who live nearby move at a brisk pace, without approaching or speaking to each other: travelling with...
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. Frances is a socially awkward...
The soothsayer

The soothsayer

A courtyard, a fountain, a pond with small grey fish. Around it walls, columns, a cloister. At its centre a staircase leads all the way up to the four stoutest columns bearing a roof inscribed with golden lettering. Flame, undo that which is ephemeral. Liberated is the eternal. I climb the steps, pause in front...