“Deep curiosity, deep listening, that’s what we have to give to each other. Reading is a form of deep listening, isn’t it? Staying with something, and being affected by it." Maggie Gee
Ambreen Razia: Mums and daughters

Ambreen Razia: Mums and daughters

Ambreen Razia’s remarkable new play Favour at the Bush Theatre, co-directed by Róisín McBrinn of Clean Break and Sophie Dillon Moniram, plots the troubled return to family life of single mum Aleena (Avita Jay) after a spell in prison. While she was away, her teenage daughter Leila (Ashna Rabheru) was...
Ned Beauman: Intelligent life

Ned Beauman: Intelligent life

Ned Beauman’s Venomous Lumpsucker is a dazzling satire of a near-future Europe in which global warming-led species decline has become accepted as an unfortunate by-product of economic growth. A system of ‘extinction credits’ means that any company set to gain financially from operations that happen to wipe out an endangered...
David Heska Wanbli Weiden: See everything

David Heska Wanbli Weiden: See everything

The rolling hills of South Dakota’s vast Lakota tribal lands provide a stunning backdrop for David Heska Wanbli Weiden’s explosive debut novel Winter Counts. The opening scene is uncompromisingly violent. Virgil Wounded Horse is a vigilante for hire. Delivering justice for crime victims with his fists, he earns one hundred...
The truth about lies

The truth about lies

My novel Berlin features a so-called unreliable narrator. Daphne misleads the reader, lies to others and to herself. Early readers have pegged her as a toxic compulsive liar. But I don’t think she is exceptionally unreliable. Instead, I believe fictional characters and real people tend to exaggerate the extent to...
Alex North: An intriguing game

Alex North: An intriguing game

It was just a silly game to start with. Paul never dreamed that Charlie would take it so far. Never thought it would end in murder… Twenty years later, Paul is trying to put his past behind him. But now his mother is dying, and he can’t run any longer....
Banana tree days

Banana tree days

Recent cool, damp days remind me of the monsoon in Guwahati, when skies go pearly grey, pensive with rain. In particular, I’ve been thinking of the banana tree just outside my bedroom window in the flat where I spent three years. In humid Guwahati weather, the window was rarely closed,...
Chloe Lane: To any lengths

Chloe Lane: To any lengths

Twenty-six-year-old Erin Moore has just been dumped by her gallery-owner boss after his wife discovered them in a compromising clinch in a store cupboard. She heads north from Auckland to spend the Queen’s Birthday holiday weekend at the old family farmstead, where her mother Helen, terminally ill with motor neurone...
Ellen Hawley: Hard-earned love

Ellen Hawley: Hard-earned love

As any art director, editor or marketer would insist, a book should always be judged by its cover. What made Other People Manage so pickupable for me, was the immediate association with books by Anne Tyler, Carol Shields, Alice Munro, Suzanne Berne… you get the picture. Physically, and thematically, this...
Caryl Lewis: Storms and wonders and cultures on the edge

Caryl Lewis: Storms and wonders and cultures on the edge

Sister and brother Nefyn and Joseph, both in their mid-twenties, have lived alone in an isolated cottage on a clifftop on the coast of West Wales for a decade since their fisherman father was lost in a sea storm. Nefyn has a close affinity to the workings of the tides,...
Lara Williams: Lost at sea

Lara Williams: Lost at sea

Lara Williams’ second novel The Odyssey is a biting satire about a generation cast adrift by the gig economy. Its narrator Ingrid joined the crew of a luxury cruise ship to flee from a failed marriage, and is buffeted between ever-changing roles within a mind-numbing micro-economy which sees her faking...
Maggie Gee: Being human

Maggie Gee: Being human

Hot on the heels of the release of a 20th anniversary edition of her Orange Prize-shortlisted The White Family, Maggie Gee’s latest novel The Red Children is a sequel of sorts. But the sometimes stark realism of the earlier book, which was motivated by her grief, anger and shame over...
Latest entries
Into the lagoon

Into the lagoon

As soon as her head was under the surface, the dolphins’ noises filled her. Sound, bright as light, hard as touch. Ping-pong balls bouncing down metal stairs. Dolphins are constant vocal innovators, playful geniuses with unspeakable power, the Maria Callases of the sea, their sounds unworldly and pure. A gospel group on helium, hitting the...
The best time

The best time

Catriona Ward’s Sundial pushes the boundaries of psychological horror in pleasing ways. The prose is intelligent, highly observed and exquisitely toxic. Nothing is taboo. Children are slapped, dogs shot, the illusion of the perfect family shattered, and sisterly bonds broken. The writing is austere but substantial, the characters extreme but believable, and the settings beautiful...
Female pirates and punk icons

Female pirates and punk icons

In 1981, six months before the ill-fated wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, Vivienne Westwood staged her first fashion show in collaboration with her partner Malcolm McLaren. The name of the collection: Pirates. With bravado and swagger at the core of the collection, the show was a huge success, both critically and financially....
White desire

White desire

Weary and defeated, I collapse onto the damp floor of my cell and think about those people who swarmed the seas like repellent jellyfish and heaved themselves up onto foreign shores. They were interviewed in half-hidden, half-open offices on the outskirts of the city. It was my job, and that of many others, to interpret...
Ten books about revenge (sort of)

Ten books about revenge (sort of)

I’m going to play a little fast and loose with the concept of revenge here – in some cases there’ll be a subtle massaging, in others I’m just going to riff. If anyone is unhappy about this, might I suggest they consider a course of action via which they hurt or harm me in return...
Soon you will wake

Soon you will wake

It started ages ago, a thousand centuries ago, but let’s skip all those yesterdays and begin last Tuesday. It is a day you wake up hungover and empty of thought, which is true of most days. You wake up in an endless waiting room. You look around and it’s a dream and, for once, you...
from It Must Be a Misunderstanding

from It Must Be a Misunderstanding

Mexican poet, teacher and translator Coral Bracho was born in Mexico City in 1951. She has published several books, two in English thanks to poet-translator Forrest Gander, who has put this composite volume together, the first extensive compilation of Bracho’s work to be published in the UK. A wide selection from Bracho’s earlier collections is...
Paradise Lodge

Paradise Lodge

As they would go to a holy city to die, people came to Paradise Lodge to end their lives. Young and old. Men and women. Able-bodied and ailing. Like migratory birds, they arrived from places Latif had never heard of. It was as if it was the closest point to the after world, as close...
A party for Hanna

A party for Hanna

The first guests start to arrive. There is not yet any sign of Hanna, who claimed she would be there early. ‘But “early” for Hanna still means late by most people’s standards,’ Kemi says. She doesn’t seem at all worried that Hanna might not turn up, so Alice tries not to be either. She welcomes...
Africa uncovered

Africa uncovered

We launched the It’s a Continent podcast in March 2020. The idea stemmed from us questioning our understanding of the histories of the countries we were from and of the wider continent. Having grown up in the UK (Chinny in Southend-on-Sea and Astrid in Plymouth), our exposure to black history primarily focused on African-American figures....