“I wish I had a more reliable way of figuring out how to write. It’s all just intuition and waking dreams.” – Robbie Arnott
Out

Out

Three flashes of lightning illuminate the night, and I catch a glimpse of dirty terraces and dividing walls. The rain hasn’t started yet. The sliding glass door of the balcony across from us opens, and a woman in pajamas comes outside to bring in the clothes from the line. I...
Robbie Arnott: Untamed nature

Robbie Arnott: Untamed nature

In the heat of a Tasmanian summer, with the world at war and his brothers away on secretive missions in the Pacific, 15-year-old Ned West traps, shoots and skins rabbits to sell their pelts in the hope of saving to buy a small boat. As his father and older sister...
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...
Latest entries
Capital Crime 2022

Capital Crime 2022

When bookseller and literary agent David Headley and his team launched a new London-based literary festival in September 2019, they couldn’t have foreseen the pandemic’s arrival the following spring. Covid’s toll on the capital was particularly harsh. There were days when the only sound you heard outside your windows was ambulance sirens. Going in and...
Light in a world of darkness

Light in a world of darkness

In 2013, Icelanders voted for the most beautiful word in their language. They chose a nine-letter one, the job title of a healthcare worker, the Icelandic term for midwife: ljósmóðir. In its reasoning, the jury stated that the word was a composite of the two most beautiful words: móðir, meaning mother, and ljós which means light.  Although I had two...
Approaching The Peckham Experiment

Approaching The Peckham Experiment

Five and a half years after the appalling tragedy of Grenfell Tower, the public inquiry has finally completed more than 300 public hearings. Richard Millett KC, counsel to the inquiry, declared: “Each and every one of the deaths that occurred… was avoidable.” He mapped out the way the companies, authorities and individuals involved had all...
F. Scott Fitzgerald bathes in the light on the French Riviera

F. Scott Fitzgerald bathes in the light on the French Riviera

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s (1896–1940) literary brilliance as the witty and worldly-wise chronicler of the Jazz Age and his youthful, suntanned good looks were regularly commented on during his heyday in the 1920s. Later, in the light of what followed, they were recalled in sorrow, anger and disappointment. By the time the writer died in Hollywood...
Starting small

Starting small

Lord knows why, but starting my own small press has been a dream as long as I can remember. Guess I’m allergic to money. When I was child, I used to make little books out of typing paper and staples; in my twenties, when no one wanted to publish me, I made pamphlets out of...
Jamie on the burger van

Jamie on the burger van

There’s no one else to talk to so I might as well make the most of it. It’s a horrible thought but I can’t help thinking that his life is sort of like an animal’s, you know? Like he sort of doesn’t know he’s here and if he died tomorrow, he could still come down...
Written in the stars

Written in the stars

When childhood friends Cheng Gong and Li Jiaqi reconnect later in life, they are compelled to retrace the history of their dysfunctional families. In the process they uncover a mystery from their grandparents’ generation that lays bare ghosts from the beginnings of the Cultural Revolution that many would prefer to remain buried. Zhang Yueran’s Cocoon...
Embracing the dread

Embracing the dread

Horror novels have an incredible ability to take us out of our lives and excite our imaginations. Reading a novel is great exercise for the mind as we build images in our heads of the worlds on the page, and this becomes even more pertinent when we read horror and our brains start to spawn...
Keeping mum

Keeping mum

In Ainslie Hogarth’s gripping and darkly comic modern gothic novel Motherthing, Abby Lamb’s mother-in-law Laura’s endless sniping and put-downs come to an abrupt end when she slashes her wrists in the family basement. But then Laura’s ghost takes up the mantle, and begins to terrorise Abby with still greater venom, just as Abby is left to cope...
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...