"The narrow alleys of pestilence and poverty run along the walls of the very richest in the land… in our current times, as the gap between rich and poor widens, there are many resonances across centuries to unearth.” Lucy Jago
Posts tagged "USA"
Runaways and free spirits

Runaways and free spirits

“Every landscape needs a figure in it, perhaps especially a figure that is only intermittently visible, that is mysterious and alert,” observes a gardener in Jane Smiley’s The Strays of Paris who spies a beautiful racehorse roaming freely in the middle of the French capital. The racehorse is Paras (short for Perestroika). She became a...
Bit by bit by bit

Bit by bit by bit

What happened? Everyone asked the question, had been asking since the election. They asked while watching the news, that storm of headlines, jump-cut footage of marches and speeches and hand-sharpied cardboard, an endless, swirling blizzard – a siege, really – of protests and counterprotests, action and reaction, people screaming at one another in the street,...
Towards a poetics of wreckage

Towards a poetics of wreckage

There is something thrilling about a beautiful book – a book whose aesthetic, material presence, and the evocative momentum of its ideas and the words that embody them, seek to touch a reader’s every nerve, even that insubstantial vital centre we call our soul. Susan Stewart’s The Ruins Lesson: Meaning and Material in Western Culture...
Raven Leilani: In the air tonight

Raven Leilani: In the air tonight

Luster is an original, darkly funny debut about an interracial love triangle, by a new voice with the power to turn modern manners upside down and inside out.  Edie is having online sex with Eric, a man she met on a dating app who messages her with impeccable punctuation – she has a good feeling...
Bryan Washington: Neighbourhoods

Bryan Washington: Neighbourhoods

Bryan Washington’s debut story collection, Lot, a sweeping overview of Houston’s ethnically diverse communities that dips in and out of the life of a gay, mixed-race restaurant worker, was the winner of the 2020 Dylan Thomas Prize and won plaudits from everyone from Ann Patchett and Kiley Reid to Barack Obama, who named it one...
Journeys of the mind

Journeys of the mind

From the strange workings of the brain, life in a care home in France, to the privileged girls of a boarding school in America via a trip to Bosnia to face up to the past, there is plenty for you to lose yourself in as 2021 cranks into gear. With Delphine de Vigan a cult...
The portraitist

The portraitist

I have to admit that I had a few colleagues with whom I would have preferred never to have crossed paths. Sherman was one; the mere thought of him fills me with bitterness and disgust. Augustus Frederick Sherman. How could I possibly forget him? I can still picture him, stout and saturnine, with his prophet’s...
New arrivals

New arrivals

Augustus Frederick Sherman (1865–1925) worked as a registry clerk with the Immigration Division at Ellis Island from 1892 until close to his death. Over the course of his career he took around 250 photographs of new arrivals at the immigration centre, capturing pictures of Romanian shepherds, Italian peasants, German stowaways, circus performers, single women and...
A year of reading and sharing

A year of reading and sharing

When I started Ultimate Reads and Recommendations as a book group on Facebook a couple of years ago I didn’t think I would have readers from all over the world joining in. It started off with just a few people from my local community in South London and gradually spread through word of mouth. Now...
Rumaan Alam: This is how civilisation ends

Rumaan Alam: This is how civilisation ends

“I woke up this morning and the world already feels safer!” declared a friend on Facebook the day after Joe Biden and Kamala Harris swept to victory in the US election. Hah! Wait till you read Leave the World Behind, I thought, perhaps a little too sceptically, you’ll soon change your tune. If this suggests...