"There is no centre anymore. We live in a multipolar world, and culture reflects that." Fatima Bhutto
Posts tagged "review"
The dream of Norway

The dream of Norway

In 1920, two years after the end of WWI, the League of Nations officially began its work of rebuilding the world. It was a grand scheme, a tremendous dream, a triumph of a reconstituted modernity, and the legacy of enlightenment humanism over militarism, colonialism, barbarity and tribalist divisionism. It should have been idealistic. It has...
History from the wings

History from the wings

In times of crisis, sociohistorical impasses, and what the French scholar John Cruickshank has termed, on a different occasion, the despair in the face of “man’s metaphysical dereliction in the world”, the individual and collective instinct is to turn to parallels, contrasts, and to recent or very distant memory. To familiar or unfamiliar territory. We...
Island voices

Island voices

Most people’s vision of the two-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago would comprise gorgeous, untainted beaches, lively festivals and scrumptious Creole cuisine, while V.S. Naipaul put the islands on the literary map with his early Trinidad-set novels, most notably A House For Mr Biswas. Two singularly brilliant debuts – One Year of Ugly by Caroline...
Telling it straight

Telling it straight

In dark times, it’s only natural for readers to seek an escape. So it’s no surprise that, to fill the tedium of society-wide lockdown in the darkest, saddest days I’ve witnessed since 9/11, many friends of mine have wiped their reading lists clean of brave and hard-hitting ‘literary’ fiction in favour of lighter genre fare....
All he surveys

All he surveys

The eponymous King of Warsaw in Szczepan Twardoch’s first book to be translated into English is Jakub Szapiro: a champion prize-fighter; a secular Jew, whose exploits in the ring, especially against Aryan opponents, have made him the darling of his community; a devoted family man, who dotes on his two young sons. All this is,...
A month of singular vision

A month of singular vision

Hisham Matar is undeniably a remarkable man, with a talent for unusual journeys and their tales. A gifted storyteller, he excels in that rare balancing act between the personal and the universal, the minutely concrete and the sublimely abstract. He loves to explore the terra incognita between permanence and transience, presence and errantry, past and...
The accidental activist

The accidental activist

‘‘To say that Rob Bilott is understated,’’ his colleague Edison Hill says, ‘‘is an understatement,’’ reported Nathaniel Rich in the New York Times Magazine article that inspired Mark Ruffalo to snap up the film rights to story of the mild-mannered corporate defence lawyer who went rogue and took on the might of DuPont. Shortly before...
The Mourners' Kaddish

The Mourners’ Kaddish

Sometimes it is very hard to put words to experiences. In Adorno’s much used (and misused) own words, “there can be no poetry after Auschwitz”; the human soul and mind can conceive of no recreation of experience, no seamless relating to, or of, life through words alone, once the humanity of meaning has been so...
This great horse-faced bluestocking

This great horse-faced bluestocking

There are books that have transformed the world; stories that have changed the course of lives. For more than 150 years now, the novels of George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) have done just that for an unwavering and undiminishing succession of readers: they have stopped them in their tracks almost midway, literally nell mezzo del...
After all that we were, what shall we be?

After all that we were, what shall we be?

The war that would slash modern history, our contemporary awareness of humanity, into before and after, leaving a gaping void between the two states, seems not to have happened at all in the opening pages of Annette Hess’ ambitious and complex debut novel The German House. It is 1963, the year of Hitchcock’s The Birds,...