Bret Anthony Johnston: Tricks at the top
The 2017 Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award winner tells Mark Reynolds about piecing the winning story together and the parallels between writing and skateboarding.
Laurent Gaudé: In the shadow of Vesuvius
The author of Hell’s Gate explains why Naples offered a perfect setting for his modern-day exploration of a descent into the underworld.
Nir Baram: Over the wall
The author of A Land Without Borders sets out on a journey along the Green Line in search of resolution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.
Ian Nairn: The opposite of Birmingham
Timeless descriptions of some of the French capital’s major monuments and overlooked attractions. From Nairn’s Paris, now reissued by Notting Hill Editions.
Catching the past
Mika Provata-Carlone unpicks Otto de Kat’s latest tireless attempt to solve the puzzle of human remembrance in The Longest Night.
A thousand coloured castles
Extract from Gareth Brookes’ new graphic novel, a surreal and sensitive examination of suburban living and ways of seeing, drawn in wax crayon.
Russian Revolution: Hope, tragedy, myths
A selection of images from the new exhibition at the British Museum marking the centenary of the world-changing events of 1917, curated by Katya Rogatchevskaia and Susan Reed.
BOOKANISTA RECOMMENDS/ON FILM
Poets, pedants and survivors
Mark Reynolds takes in a fresh batch of book adaptations and biopics, including A Sense of an Ending, Lady Macbeth and Mend the Living.
Civil rights and wrongs
Lucy Scholes admires Raoul Peck’s visionary documentary I Am Not Your Negro, a stirring evocation of James Baldwin’s writings and campaigns.
A positive betrayal
Director Ritesh Batra, screenwriter Nick Payne, author Julian Barnes and a cast including Jim Broadbent, Charlotte Rampling and Emily Mortimer discuss bringing The Sense of an Ending to the screen.
A selective objective
Extracts from the six stories shortlisted for the 2017 Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award, by Kathleen Alcott, Bret Anthony Johnstone, Richard Lambert, Victor Lodato, Celeste Ng and Sally Rooney. Can you pick a winner?
Pennyfeather is sent down
The opening chapters of Evelyn Waugh’s sparkling college satire Decline and Fall, now a major BBC One series starring Jack Whitehall, Eva Longoria and David Suchet.
Peter Shafer: An immortal life
Mika Provata-Carlone attends an illuminating evening at the National Theatre celebrating the life and work of the late playwright, with performances by his peers.
Musa Okwonga admires the range, ambition and acuity of Irenosen Okojie’s Jhalak Prize-shortlisted story collection Speak Gigantular.
Xan Brooks, author of The Clocks in This House All Tell Different Times, picks ten top reads about tormented child adventurers.
Turn me into a monster
As his novel The Impossible Fortress celebrates the early days of MTV, Jason Rekulak picks ten memorable pop videos by notable directors, including Brian de Palma’s Michael Jackson and Sam Peckinpah’s… Julian Lennon?.
Mohsin Hamid: Moving on
The author of Exit West chats to Mark Reynolds about migrations, mindfulness, nation states, staying human – and watching for lions.
Tim Murphy: Shouting out
The author of Christodora discusses his multi-stranded, cross-generational novel about the AIDS crisis and its aftermath with Lucy Scholes.
Laura McVeigh: Journeys of the mind
The author of Under the Almond Tree discusses Tolstoy, Afghanistan, refugees, displacement, and two oddly similar but distant Emerald Isles.
Steven Uhly: A life of encounters
The author of Kingdom of Twilight discusses selective memory, creativity, judgement and living with the past, with Mika Provata-Carlone.
Chris Cleave: Across the divide
The author of Everyone Brave Is Forgiven talks to Alex Peake-Tomkinson about addiction, trauma, intuition and telling a story from all sides.
Nathan Hill: Unpuzzling it all
The author of The Nix chats to Mark Reynolds about truth and fiction, obsessive gaming, Meryl Streep as his mom and meeting your heroes.
Michael Chabon: Flying high
The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist talks to Mark Reynolds about Moonglow, the space race, a mixed bag of movies and confronting the Israeli Occupation.
Alexandra Kleeman: Places in between
Lucy Scholes chats to the author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine about our obsessions with onsumerism, commodification and conformity.
Welcome to dystopia
Mark Reynolds talks to writer-directors Jörg Tittel and Alex Helfrecht about their unsettling adaptation of György Dragomán’s The White King.
Claire Fuller: A family at sea
Juliet West quizzes the author of Swimming Lessons about mothers and daughters, family secrets, art, nature and aromas as colour.
Chibundu Onuzo: Sticking together
The author of Welcome to Lagos tells Mark Reynolds about her vibrant story of a band of runaways seeking a new life in Nigeria’s megacity, and getting into a dodgy scrape with a corrupt government minister.
Laurent Gaudé: The river of tears
In the Land of the Dead, Matteo encounters a lost friend as he approaches tumultuous waters heaving with tormented souls. From Hell’s Gate.
Alain Mabanckou: Pioneers Awake!
In 1970s Congo, a Marxist-Leninist revolution ushers in a new age – of corruption and terror. Extract from Black Moses by Alain Mabanckou.
David Vann: For Hekate
Medea seeks forest potions and sacrifices to appease the goddess of sorcery. From Bright Air Black, a dazzling retelling of the Greek myth.
Dorthe Nors: Driving to Distraction
Sonja has been taking driving lessons for six months but her instructor won’t let her change gear. From Mirror, Shoulder, Signal.
Sabahattin Ali: All the women I ever imagined
An encounter with a haunting self-portrait melts the indifference of a man suspicious of modern art. Extract from the stunning nre translation of Madonna in a Fur Coat by Maureen Freely and Alexander Dawe.
Heinz Helle: Something burned here
Chilling discoveries and sharp memories from Euphoria, Helle’s stark and poetic evocation of the repressed savagery of human nature and the evaporation of society.
Shanthi Sekaran: Time to go
Solimar Castro-Valdez resolves to flee the forgotten village of Santa Clara Popocalco and start a new life beyond the Mexican border. From Lucky Boy.
Kayla Rae Whitaker: First night
Mel Vaught and Sharon Kisses hole up in the toilets getting high ahead of the premiere of their first cartoon feature. From The Animators.
Liam Hogan: Internet dating for immortals
After 900 years of sorrowful break-up after break-up, will a chance encounter on Tinder see old George finally meet his match?
Orlando Ortega-Medina: The shovelist
Retiree Guillaume Morin is urged by his wife to keep earning extra cash shovelling snow after new neighbours move in. From Jerusalem Ablaze.
Paula Knight: The facts of life
Extract from the touching graphic memoir about not-quite motherhood, the meaning of family and moving on.
Peter Swanson: sophisticated murder
The author of The Kind Worth Killing and Her Every Fear owes a debt of gratitude to Alfred Htchcock for an introduction to thrillers and the understanding that less is best.
The author of Octavio’s Journey reveals crossovers between myth and biography – and a white lie that helped his debut novel see the light of day.
A WRITER’S LIFE
Tim Pears: Keeping it pastoral
Having put tutoring on pause to devote himself to his new trilogy, the author of The Horseman discusses his writing and reading habits.
Shanthi Sekaran: Seeking the zing
The author of Lucky Boy talks creative sparks, writing boltholes, literary heroes, and casting the Italian World Cup squad in The Godfather.
The wisdom of parrots
Former Economist Delhi bureau chief Adam Roberts predicts a bright, challenging future for India. From Superfast Primetime Ultimate Nation.
On borrowed ground
Mika Provata-Carlone admires the fiery intensity of Bright Air Black, David Vann’s retelling of the Medea myth, but finds its savagery falls a little flat.
Seduced by utopia
Mika Provata-Carlone picks through the hardships, tragedies and ivory-tower dreams in Iris Origo’s lyrical memoir and war diary Images and Shadows and War in Vald’Orcia.
Suellen Dainty: A memory of memory
The author of The Housekeeper considers the unreliability of recolection in fiction from Proust to Julian Barnes and S.J. Watson.
Land of the bens and the glens
Extract from The Crofter and the Laird, John McPhee’s evocative account of moving his family to the land of his forebears on the remote Hebridean island of Colonsay.
Splinters and reflections
Josep Miquel Sobrere introduces his translation of Mercè Rodoreda’s tightly wrought, sparkingly inventive generational saga A Broken Mirror.
Cloak and dagger à la Russe
Mika Provata-Carlone admires Jamie Bulloch’s new translation of Ricarda Huch’s deliciously indulgent and provocative epistolary novel The Last Summer.
Saunders in the zone
Brett Marie is dazzled by master short-storyteller George Saunders’ debut novel Lincoln in the Bardo, about Abraham Lincoln mourning the loss of his young son.
A total portrait of the artist as an absence
Mika Provata-Carlone delves into Elena Ferrante’s Frantumaglia, a tantalising treasure-trove of letters, interviews, drafts and diaries.
Annemarie Neary: Scenes from a Troubles childhood
The author of Siren explains how growing up during the Northern Ireland Troubles still shapes her imaginative empathy and emotional truth.
A wonder to behold
Imbolo Mbue’s much heralded debut novel Behold the Dreamers about African immigrants in New York goes beyond high expectations, says Brett Marie.
Kate Hamer: Out there
The author of The Girl in the Red Coat and The Doll Funeral reflects on her instincts and influences, and finding the perfect setting.
Katie Hickman: Diamond discoveries
The author of the Aviary Gate trilogy reflects on the obscure Levant Company merchant who has dominated her writing life for the last decade.
Miranda Emmerson: Mixed-up thinking
The acclaimed playwright looks at the sea changes in Europe and America that inspired her debut novel Miss Treadway & the Field of Stars, about fractured and fractious 1960s Britain.
Mika Provata-Carlone is mesmerised by David Connolly’s taut translation of Zyranna Zateli’s twisting tour de force At Twilight They Return.
Wraiths of neither good nor evil
Mika Provata-Carlone assesses Hans Fallada’s Nightmare in Berlin, an unsettling chronicle of personal trauma, historical outrage, moral guilt and accountability.
Paul Morley describes the irresistible impact of David Bowie on the 1970s and beyond, in an extract from The Age of Bowie, now in paperback.
In defence of book learning
Brett Marie takes inspiration and solace from Will Schwalbe’s treasure trove of stories and recommendations Books for Living.
The hydra of memory and forgetting
Mika Provata-Carlone admires Steven Uhly’s Kingdom of Twilight, a vital study of horror, survival and the natural impulse for humanity.
BOOKANISTA RECOMMENDS/ON FILM
Heart and darkness
Mark Reynolds weighs up February/March 2017’s must-see film adaptations, featuring Moonlight, Fences, Elle, The Salesman – and The Lego Batman Movie.
Faith, grief and passion
Mark Reynolds rounds up January’s best literary adaptation and biopic releases, featuring Jackie, Silence, A Monster Calls, Lion, Christine, Denial, Hacksaw Ridge and The White King.
Tumult and majesty
Lucy Scholes picks her books of the year for 2016, and peeks ahead at spring 2017. Featuring Rachel Cusk, Garth Greenwell, Sarah Moss, Maggie Nelson, Colson Whitehead (right), Nathan Hill, Jami Attenberg and more.
Timely and timeless books
Mika Provata-Carlone takes a trawl through new children’s books and freshly wrapped classics – essential reading for the festive season.
Yukio Mishima: ‘Swaddling Clothes’
Orlando Ortega-Medina was so haunted by this story from the Japanese master, he decided to write what happens next from a new viewpoint in his collection Jerusalem Ablaze.
Brett Marie asks Kim Echlin, Jenn Ashworth, Megan Bradbury and Will Schwalbe about their favourite holiday reads, and shares his own.
Martin Scorsese: On Silence
The director introduces Shusaku Endo’s absorbing study of faith and culture, now a major film starring Liam Neeson and Adam Driver.
An unfailing life
Mika Provata-Carlone is captivated by the Royal Ballet’s Woolf Works at the Royal Opera House, starring Alessandra Ferri and Mara Galeazzi.
Mark Reynolds finds Sally Cookson’s Peter Pan at the National Theatre a dizzying examination of the pleasures and pains of growing up.
That sinking feeling
Author and Arctic wilderness guide Michael Engelhard tracks the shifting language of polar bear art. From his book Ice Bear: The Cultural History of an Arctic Icon.
MOMENTS IN LITERATURE
Dalliances at the dacha
An extract from the Alexander Pushkin fiction fragment that inspired Tolstoy to start writing his second masterwork Anna Karenina.
TIPS FOR WRITERS
James Swallow: Watertight rules
The author of Nomad and hit videogame Deus Ex: Human Revolution offers his advice for new writers who may be struggling to get their stories down.
Brit Bennett: Getting started
The author of The Mothers takes a break from her exhaustive US tour to share some rules about choosing what to write and how to go about it.
Burhan Sönmez: Istanbul light and dark
The author of Istanbul Istanbul discusses his novel of hope and imagination in the confines of a torture cell, his own run-ins with lawmakers and prison, and his long-term optimism for Turkey’s political future.
Colson Whitehead: Making it
The National Book Award-winning author of The Underground Railroad reflects on an extraordinary year of personal triumph and national angst.
Enchanted by the mystery of books
Ana Pérez Galván, the co-founder of Hispabooks, shares her thoughts on publishing Spanish literature in English with Mika Provata-Carlone.
Miriam Elia begs to differ
The creator of the Dung Beetle reading scheme tells Mark Reynolds about making books, art, comedy, hamsters and never quite fitting in.
Cristina Sánchez-Andrade: Flickers
Lucy Scholes talks to the author of The Winterlings about her story of exiled Galician sisters returning to their childhood home.
Amy Dupcak: India
A beautiful girl of uncertain origin seeks to stamp her identity through fiction. Short story from Amy Dupcak’s debut collection Dust.
Petina Gappah: Human rights and wrongs
Extract from ‘The Old Familiar Faces’ in her new collection Rotten Row, intelinked stories about crime and justice in contemporary Zimbabwe.
A WRITER’S LIFE
Robert Olen Butler: Still exploring
The Pulitzer Prize winner marks publication of his new novel Perfume River by cracking open the door to his writing cottage.
Reclaiming both past and future
Mika Provata-Carlone admires Leonard Barkan’s Berlin for Jews – a beguiling portrait of a city haunted, yet also honoured by its history.
Berlin by twilight
Mika Provata-Carlone savours the re-release of Franz Hessel’s 1929 classic Walking in Berlin: A Flâneur in the Capital, in a new translation by Amanda DeMarco.
Brett Marie reflects on some classic books that inform the ugly 2016 race for US President, including a forgotten gem from Ralph Nader.
CONTEXTS/MOMENTS IN LITERATURE
Astrid Lindgren: Waves of joy and doubt
Extract from A World Gone Mad, the World War Two diaries of the creator of Pippi Longstocking, as the war drags to a triumphant but messy close.
Lucie Whitehouse: Too close for comfort
The author of Keep You Close picks ten chilling novels in which home and family spell danger, pain, cruelty, terror and humiliation.
Henrietta Rose-Innes: Swarm
How to prevent – or nurture – a caterpillar infestation. Extract from Nineveh, a novel about people and pests in present-day Cape Town exploring tensions between the natural and man-made worlds.
Austin Wright: Remembering
A riveting extract from the opening chapters of Nocturnal Animals, now a gripping film by Tom Ford starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Amy Adams.
A night in the barn
Extract from Georges Simenon’s The Hand, the inspiration for The Red Barn, David Hare’s latest sell-out play at the National Theatre.