“When you are a latecomer, outsider, immigrant, exile, there are fractures in your life that you can’t heal… I have a lot of respect for people that have stayed behind and have to deal with the wounds every day.” Elif Shafak
Posts tagged "literature"
Reading Ulysses

Reading Ulysses

When I was 22, I spent the month of June travelling around the Balkans by myself. I was trying to heal a broken heart, having been unexpectedly dumped by a boyfriend. Night after night, I ate supper alone in a taverna with just my book for company. The book in question was not only one...
What are you playing at?

What are you playing at?

What is the opposite of a game? Work? Reality? Real life? Read the books on this list and you’ll be even less certain. From a teacher lured into a game of make-believe (or is it?) on a Greek island, to the S&M mind games of The Image, to Professor Johan Huizinga’s seminal Homo Ludens, the...
Literary lingo

Literary lingo

While serving in World War II, Joseph Heller concluded that war was a farce in which only those crazy enough to fight were considered sane enough to do so. That became the theme of a novel he wrote several years later. Heller titled his novel Catch-18. Just as this book was about to be published...
Groundbreaking women

Groundbreaking women

What does it mean to break ground? To make an incision in soil so that building can begin or, more loosely, a reference to genius or creative prowess – some kind of innovation. What does it connote for the female body, given it’s a rare woman that hasn’t been told to lie down on the...
The vulgar, not the Vulgate

The vulgar, not the Vulgate

A brief note on the word, ‘sex’. I find myself avoiding it often. It is an ugly word. Not because it is boorish, but because it is too refined. ‘Sex’ is clinical: sterile, precise, institutional. It comes from the Norman French, originally Latin – what philologists Reneé and Henry Kahane called ‘the status symbol of...
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...
Leïla Slimani: We are all monsters

Leïla Slimani: We are all monsters

 Leïla Slimani has been in huge demand on the global literary circuit since winning the Prix Goncourt in 2016 with her second novel Chanson douce, which was published in English last year as Lullaby (and in the US as The Perfect Nanny), translated by Sam Taylor. A worldwide bestseller, it opens with the double...
Reading art

Reading art

David Trigg’s Reading Art: Art for Book Lovers is an enchanting compendium of artworks that celebrate books and reading through 2,000 years of art history. Featuring almost 300 artworks from museums and collections around the world, it is an inspiring homage to the written word. A stunning survey of painting and sculpture, photography and installations,...
The solid case for ambiguity

The solid case for ambiguity

At a moment of writers’ block, “the United Kingdom came to my rescue,” declares Javier Cercas in The Blind Spot: An Essay on the Novel, that is based on his Weidenfeld Lectures at Oxford in May 2015. The United Kingdom is in fact The Telegraph, or to be precise, an article by Umberto Eco, quoting...
Written in my soul

Written in my soul

Like most avid readers, I was pleased to see British national treasure Kashuo Ishiguro win the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature. Pleased, but a little disappointed. Ishiguro is worthy, to be sure, but in a way he was too worthy. After the lather the Nobel committee worked the literary world into last year by giving...