“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
Pascal Engman: Contact at any price

Pascal Engman: Contact at any price

According to Wikipedia, an incel, or involuntary celibate, is “a member of an online subculture of people who define themselves as unable to get a romantic or sexual partner despite desiring one.” United by a lethal form of misogyny, male adherents are becoming increasingly emboldened. Deadly attacks from Toronto to...
Looking back and moving on

Looking back and moving on

LEONE ROSS’S MESMERISING third novel This One Sky Day recounts events over the course of a single “strange day, full of surprises and moments with sharp teeth” across an imaginary Caribbean archipelago called Popisho. It’s a place peopled by seers and healers, rebels and dancing ghosts; a beautiful, twisted world...
Rijula Das: The constant smallness of being

Rijula Das: The constant smallness of being

Set in Calcutta’s notorious red-light district Sonagachi, Rijula Das’s debut Small Deaths resists lazy stereotypes. Years of research have provided Das with an intimate understanding of the power dynamics at play between the madams, pimps and police, and how their often-cruel manoeuvrings have devastating consequences for the endless stream of...
Communicating evolutions

Communicating evolutions

Audrey Schulman’s The Dolphin House is an engrossing fictionalised account of a singular episode in modern science. In the mid-1960s, a NASA-funded project led by neuroscientist Dr John Lilly saw naturalist Margaret Howe live in confinement with a dolphin named Peter in a flooded house on St Thomas in the...
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,...
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Pompeii, poverty, power and purpose

Pompeii, poverty, power and purpose

In early September, Elodie Harper’s The Wolf Den (May 2021), already shortlisted in the Pageturner category of the British Book Awards, was announced as the winner of the 2022 Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award. The novel, the first in a trilogy, follows the fortunes of Amara, a once-beloved daughter who has lived as a slave...
Here, there and everywhere

Here, there and everywhere

TAHMIMA ANAM’S LATEST novel The Startup Wife is a blisteringly funny satire about love, ambition, feminist geekdom and standing up for what you believe in. Deep-seated complexities of sexism and racism in Silicon Valley and beyond, and the frenzied uncontrollability of social media are laid bare as a charismatic husband gets all the credit for...
Amanda Lees: Her secret service

Amanda Lees: Her secret service

MUCH HAS BEEN WRITTEN about the virtues of dedication, service and sacrifice in the wake of the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. The internet is flooded with photos of her in her youth. The ones of her in uniform training to become a driver and mechanic during the Second World War are as inspirational today...
Festival fever

Festival fever

Shaun Bythell, who has been running The Bookshop in Wigtown for over twenty years, dips back into his diaries for more hilarious day-to-day encounters with the dedicated antiquarians, casual visitors and frequent browsers who come by to interrupt the anticipated contemplative idyll of his working life with requests that range from the curious and insightful...
Endless adventures

Endless adventures

LIFELONG BOOK LOVER and former travel and lifestyle editor Simon Savidge is a regular contributor to several literary and lifestyle magazines and newspapers, as well as presenting on Sky Arts Book Club with Andi Oliver and Elizabeth Day, and on his own YouTube channel. He explains how each room in his house is dedicated to a...
The closeted and the curious

The closeted and the curious

Having previously published The Last Ballad (2018) and When Ghosts Come Home (February 2022), Faber has now released Wiley Cash’s early novels A Land More Kind Than Home and This Dark Road to Mercy for the first time in the UK. A Land More Kind Than Home is a Southern Gothic thriller about the charismatic...
Down on Disneyland

Down on Disneyland

DOMED BLUE CEILING, a phantom ocean. The Little Mermaid hangs from a wire, waving her hands in greeting, her tail swishing sinuously in her wake. Her stomach bulges from the harness beneath her bodysuit. Down on the ground, visitors brandish cameras, contorting themselves to keep her in their sights. A puff of smoke and Triton,...
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....