“I wish I had a more reliable way of figuring out how to write. It’s all just intuition and waking dreams.” – Robbie Arnott
Posts tagged "Virginia Woolf"
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...
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...
Lockdown drawings

Lockdown drawings

In March 2020, as the coronavirus took hold and lockdowns were imposed around the world, author and illustrator Edward Carey published a sketch of ‘a determined young man’ on social media, with a plan to keep posting a drawing a day until life returned to normal. One hundred and fifty pencil stubs later, he was...
Staying in, not slowing down

Staying in, not slowing down

On the release of Both of You, her twenty-first novel in as many years, the author of the Number 1 bestselling Lies Lies Lies and Just My Luck reflects on keeping going during lockdown, some of her literary influences and heroes, and the routine and discipline that always underpin the creative process. Where are you now? Right...
"We can fight with the mind"

“We can fight with the mind”

Sybil Oldfield’s The Black Book: The Britons on the Nazi Hitlist is, at first sight, an anthology of lives under terrible threat – a breathless, deeply personal, yet unflinching account of an impressive array of the many biographical journeys, the individual circumstances and diverse fates that earned 2,619 men and women an uncoveted place on...
William Boyd: Melting in the dark

William Boyd: Melting in the dark

In swinging Britain in the summer of 1968, three characters are leading troubled lives. Sexually conflicted producer Talbot Kydd is overseeing an archly arthouse movie in Brighton while sneaking away from his wife to a secret London flat and pondering a possible future with a scaffolder named Gary; his star, American actress Anny Viklund, is...
Before the beginning of years

Before the beginning of years

A chorus from Swinburne’s 1865 play Atalanta in Calydon was once an almost self-standing poetic topos, the expression perhaps of a particular moment in the progression of the human psyche – or of the temporal course of eternity, to fiddle with T.S. Eliot’s famous take on the pastness of the past and its presence. Before...
Modern fiction

Modern fiction

Reading Andrea Marcolongo’s The Ingenious Language: Nine Epic Reasons to Love Greek in certain ways lives up to its English title in providing an epic experience (the Italian original’s simpler 9 ragioni… emphasises the more light-heartedly catchy, yet didactic underpinnings of the text, rather than its epic claims, significance or proportions). As Marcolongo reminds us...
A month of singular vision

A month of singular vision

Hisham Matar is undeniably a remarkable man, with a talent for unusual journeys and their tales. A gifted storyteller, he excels in that rare balancing act between the personal and the universal, the minutely concrete and the sublimely abstract. He loves to explore the terra incognita between permanence and transience, presence and errantry, past and...
Dim background figures

Dim background figures

Among the bold colours and radically liberating shapes that conjured up so indelibly the world of the Bloomsbury Group painters, between the layers of meaning and style of the new women writers, under the shadows or glaring light of history, and at a tantalising distance, both flirtatious and cautionary, from the figures who dominated early...
Négar Djavadi: Neither here nor there

Négar Djavadi: Neither here nor there

French-Iranian screenwriter Négar Djavadi’s illuminating, richly entertaining debut novel Disoriental combines a sweeping family history in 20th-century Iran with an intimate study of identity and motherhood in contemporary Paris. Kimiâ Sadr is a lesbian punk rocker who spent her teenage years in the French capital after the family fled the trauma of Iran’s 1979 Islamic...
Petra Hůlová: Gender agendas

Petra Hůlová: Gender agendas

Multiple award-winning Czech novelist and playwright Petra Hůlová’s Three Plastic Rooms takes the form of a foul-mouthed monologue by an unnamed prostitute in city very like Prague, who holds forth on matters regarding her profession, her punters and society at large. It is her second novel to be translated into English, the original Czech edition...