"I expect you’ll be becoming a schoolmaster, sir. That’s what most of the gentlemen does, sir, that gets sent down for indecent behaviour.” Evelyn Waugh, Decline and Fall
Posts tagged "Fourth Estate"
A wonder to behold

A wonder to behold

Imbolo Mbue made headlines in the publishing world a couple years ago, when Random House snapped up her debut novel The Longings of Jende Jonga with a million-dollar pre-emptive bid. Mbue, a former market researcher left unemployed after the 2008 crash, had written the story of an African immigrant (like her, a native of Cameroon...
Michael Chabon: Flying high

Michael Chabon: Flying high

Michael Chabon’s latest novel Moonglow is a fake memoir that spans the Jewish slums of pre-war Philadelphia, rocket science and espionage in World War II Germany, the verve and machinations of the space race and the dwindling of the American Century in a sleepy Florida retirement home. It’s a comical, provocative, jubilant and tender saga...
Mixed-up thinking

Mixed-up thinking

This is the story of how I came to write Miss Treadway & the Field of Stars and how it came to be more relevant than even I had imagined. It is a story of two parts – the first a little more obvious than the second. But everything needs a beginning… My beginning lies...
Alexandra Kleeman: Spaces in between

Alexandra Kleeman: Spaces in between

She’s been hailed by the New York Times as “one of the wise young women of our generation”; Ben Marcus called her “one of the sharpest and smartest young writers” around, “ambitious, promising, brilliant”; and Vanity Fair described her as a “future superstar”. These are just a handful of the accolades heaped on American author...
Measuring change – and holding onto it

Measuring change – and holding onto it

“You’ve come a long way, baby!” Such was the tagline of a US ad campaign launched in 1968 to sell Virginia Slims cigarettes. Images of women portrayed as hip, mod, and independent (all with cigarette in hand), were paired with historical depictions of drudgery and repression. Clearly, Madison Avenue wanted American women to believe they’d...
Imaginary friends

Imaginary friends

I’ve always surrounded myself with books. As a child they weren’t just my respite and my escape, they were larger than my reality and they fuelled my passion for, and the expectation of, the unlikely. Nor were their authors my heroes in the current understanding of the role. I didn’t expect to meet them in...
Wet cement

Wet cement

Last week I was in Itanagar, the capital of Arunachal Pradesh, a state in the northeast of India that most Indians are, much of the time, only dimly aware of. It’s nearer China than it is to Delhi. I was lucky enough to be there as a jury member for a festival of films from...
Other Africas

Other Africas

Most first-time visitors’ images of Africa are shaped by the safari experience, which is defined by its artificiality. Camping hundreds of miles from the nearest office block or high street, they learn every detail of an elephant’s sex life but catch only brief glimpses of how the locals live. Western reporters, in contrast, are drawn...
Nell Zink takes flight

Nell Zink takes flight

I’d be prepared to put money on the fact that even if you haven’t read either of her novels – The Wallcreeper and Mislaid – you’ve still heard of Nell Zink. Having burst onto the literary scene last autumn with the publication of the former in the US (by the small independent publishing house Dorothy),...
All-seeing I

All-seeing I

Omniscient narrators are an endangered species. Once they flourished, roaming freely over the lush grasslands of 19th-century fiction. Now, when I look at my bookshelves, it seems that less than 10% of contemporary fiction is narrated omnisciently. A simple experiment: take a look at your own shelves and ask yourself who’s doing the talking. Count...