wed 22/05/2024

literature

Heather McCalden: The Observable Universe review - reflections from a damaged life

Artist and writer, Heather McCalden, has produced her first book-length work. The Observable Universe examines, variously, her familial history, the death of her parents to AIDS, and the subsequent loss of her maternal grandmother, Nivia, who raised...

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Andrew O'Hagan: Caledonian Road review - London's Dickensian return

Andrew O’Hagan’s new novel, Caledonian Road, feels very much intended to be an epic, or at the very least has designs on being a seminal work, documenting the modern (European) human condition. Character and storyline-rich, dense, and morally...

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David Harsent: Skin review - our strange surfaces

David Harsent has won a lot of prizes. From the Eric Gregory to the T. S. Eliot, he has carved out a literary career positively glittering with awards and nominations, and keeps the kind of trophy cabinet that would turn many of his contemporaries...

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Best of 2023: Books

From wandering Rachmaninoff to Ulysses tribute, or a poet’s boyhood in Dundee to sleeplessness and arboreal inner lives, our reviewers share their literary picks from 2023.Prototype Press continues to publish much of the most interesting British...

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Angela Leighton: Something, I Forget review - the art of letting go

Half way through Something, I Forget, in a poem entitled “Returns”, and subtitled “Invasion of Ukraine, February 2022”, Angela Leighton writes, “Today’s my birthday. Many happy returns. / Elsewhere there’s shot, mortar shells, grenades.”The...

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Mathias Énard: The Annual Banquet of the Gravediggers' Guild review - a man of infinite death

"Death, as a general statement, is so easy of utterance, of belief", wrote Amy Levy, "it is only when we come face to face with it that we find the great mystery so cruelly hard to realise; for death, like love, is ever old and ever new". In Mathias...

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Anne Michaels: Held review - one story across time

Near the end of My Name is Lucy Barton, Elizabeth Strout’s prize-winning 2016 novel, a creative writing teacher tells Lucy, ‘you will only have one story […] you’ll write your one story many ways. Don’t ever worry about story.’ The advice might...

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Ishion Hutchinson: School of Instructions review - learning against estrangement

School of Instructions, a book-length poem composed of six sections, is a virtuosic dance between memory and forgetting, distant tragedy and personal grief. At times, Hutchinson’s language perhaps forgets itself in its own excess. His lines are...

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Adam Biles: The Shakespeare and Company Book of Interviews review - the old curiosity bookshop

Over 10 years in the making, The Shakespeare and Company Book of Interviews reflects its namesake in more ways than one.To those familiar, it is paean and tribute to one of the most famous literary hangouts in the world; to those unfamiliar it, is...

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Adam Sisman: The Secret Life of John le Carré review - tinker, tailor, soldier, cheat

This book is quite a sad read. I had been looking forward to it, as a posthumous supplement to Adam Sisman’s 2015 biography of John le Carré/David Cornwell, which, at the time, quite clearly drew a discreet veil over his later private life. But the...

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'The people behind the postcards': an interview with Priya Hein, author of 'Riambel'

Priya Hein’s debut novel, Riambel, is an excoriating examination of Mauritius’ socio-political structures and the colonial past from which they have sprung. Centred around Noemi, a young Mauritian girl who lives in the novel’s titular village slum...

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Annie Ernaux: Shame review - the translation of pain

The latest translation of Annie Ernaux’s Shame – a text most closely akin to a long-form essay – is an absorbing examination of how one fleeting moment from childhood can have lasting and unpredictable consequences, and how a life might be...

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