"Hwang Sok-yong has a knack of presenting us with stories that look like the simple jottings of an idle, curious man... yet each phrase almost is invested with the power of a parable." Mika Provata-Carlone
Posts tagged "debut novel"
Be creative

Be creative

Let’s say you would like to write a novel. You have a plot summary, gained over weeks, months, years, which has formed in your mind while you have been out walking, running, having a bath. The plot is simple and effective, and you can describe it in less than a minute. Your friends like your...
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 high-powered job, whose trust in...
Over the line

Over the line

All writers should plant sleeper agents in bookshops, to be activated when their novel starts to peep over the parapet. I am fortunate to have the wonderful Mr B’s Reading Emporium just around the corner from me, and have been receiving coded signals about my debut novel, Testament. “It’s appeared on the system!” “It’s available...
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...
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...
Tara Isabella Burton: My sister's keeper

Tara Isabella Burton: My sister’s keeper

I have this friend on Facebook. Man, she just about glows in the dark. For the past five years, she’s been adding sparkle to my feed with posts about her opulent lifestyle. From the stream of articles she posts on her timeline (in Salon, National Geographic Traveler and Vox, to name just three), I’d say...
Outback to the future

Outback to the future

I didn’t always want to be a writer. When I was at school it just wasn’t the kind of thing I thought you could ‘become’, or, even if it was, how you would ever go about doing so. This was pre-internet, a dark and mysterious time when the sum of all knowledge was the ragged...
Wrong side of the tree line

Wrong side of the tree line

Central Queensland, Australia, 1885. They stalked the ruined scrubland, searching for something to kill. Two boys, not quite men, tiny in a landscape withered by drought and drenched in unbroken sun. Vast plains pocked with spinifex and clumps of buckbush, grass brittle as old bone, red soil fine as gunpowder underfoot. There’d not been rain...
Beyond the abyss

Beyond the abyss

I was only a few months through an MA in Creative Writing and I already wanted to quit. My partner was driving me to the train station at the time. I had the money in my hand ready to pay for the expensive journey that would get me all the way from South Wales to...
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 to Tirana to know about...