Interview | James Shapiro on cinematic storytelling and ‘Shakespeare in a Divided America’

My first exposure to Shakespeare wasn’t until the age of fourteen, at high school in Brooklyn. We were assigned Romeo and Juliet and set off on what felt to me like a ‘death march’ through the play. I hated it, didn’t even get the dirty bits my classmates sniggered at, and swore I’d never study Shakespeare again. I never did at university. What changed everything for me was seeing the plays performed […]

Interview | A. Naji Bakhti on ‘Between Beirut and the Moon’, inheritance and coming of age in Lebanon

Between Beirut and the Moon (Influx Press, 2020) is Naji’s first novel, praised by Roddy Doyle as ‘engrossing, warm and gloriously funny’. Adam, the narrator, dreams of becoming an astronaut: but before he can be the first Arab on the moon, he must contend with issues much closer to home, as he comes of age in post-civil war Lebanon. On the phone from Beirut, I spoke to Naji about reaching an Anglophone readership, humour in the midst of conflict, and […]

Essay | The Moving Finger: Edward FitzGerald and the consolation of Omar Khayyam by James Tarik Marriott

It is bad practice to search for a single moment in the life of an artist for explanation of their greatest work, but for Edward FitzGerald such a moment calls out for itself. In 1856 Edward Byles Cowell, FitzGerald’s companion and close friend, decided to leave for India following his graduation from Oxford to pursue a professorship in Calcutta. Up until this point in his life FitzGerald had been listless, finding little to enthuse him […]

Review | Wasted at the Southwark Playhouse

A grungy rock musical about the Brontës and their challenging lives, battling against addiction, disease and poverty, promises to be an exhilarating take on this famous family. Bleak, poverty-stricken Yorkshire becomes a stark, wooden platform that stages a series of powerful rock ballads. With music by Christopher Ash and book and lyrics by Carl Miller, Wasted’s undeniably talented cast have the potential to create something really exciting, but sadly, the production’s […]

Fiction | Tunnel by Will Ashon

We began the tunnel behind the bunk bed in the back bedroom. We chose the back bedroom because the guards went in there less often. They were lazy and also had to queue outside the supermarket for an hour or more, which made them lazier still. Some of them were eating cat food straight from the squeezy pouches. It dribbled down their chins and made their eyes go funny. I wonder sometimes if they even knew what they were guarding […]

Essay | An argument for theatres by Amber Massie-Blomfield

The last show I saw before lockdown was Love Love Love at the Lyric Hammersmith. 500 of us were in that room; all gathered together to do what, in my pre-quarantine life, I used to do two or three times a week. I didn’t hug my friend when I met him at the start of the evening. It was the beginning of March and what constituted acceptable public behaviour seemed to shift on an hourly basis. We touched elbows. ‘This is probably the last theatre show we’ll ever see,’ […]

Fiction | The Wild Laughter by Caoilinn Hughes

The night the Chief died, I lost my father and the country lost a battle it wouldn’t confess to be fighting. For the no-collared, labouring class. For the decent, dependable patriarch. For right of entry from the field into the garden. Jurors were appointed to gauge the casualty. They didn’t wear black. Don’t they know black is flattering? The truth isn’t. They kept safe and silent. I didn’t. When is a confession an absolution and when is it a sentencing, I’d like to find out […]

Fiction | Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud

I understand a kitchen. I’m not saying Miss Betty can’t cook. But give Jim his gym-boots. She hand nowhere near sweet like mine. Two of us coming home from work, same tired, so I took over the cooking three times for the week. As it’s Sunday I decided to do my nice steamed kingfish, callaloo with salt meat, rice and, just for Solo, a macaroni pie. While the pie was in the oven I went on the porch. Solo was there swinging in the hammock, head in the iPad as usual. Why’s lunch not ready? {…]

Interview | Lara Williams on Supper Club, Feasting and Taking Up Space

Roberta takes up cooking to avoid succumbing to loneliness at university; the start passion that later develops into her co-hosting secret dinner parties filled with food, alcohol, drugs, sex, and petty crimes with a group of defiant young women, known as the Supper Club. Hungry women gather to gorge themselves, to free themselves. And as their bodies expand, so do their desires. Winner of The Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize 2019 and best books of the year in Vogue […]

Interview | Rick Gekoski on Darke Matter, scepticism and reading for pleasure

Rick Gekoski awoke one morning from uneasy dreams and inexplicably found himself metamorphosed into a writer of fiction. He was seventy-three years old, a retired academic, former Booker prize judge and Chair, broadcaster, bibliographer, private press publisher, journalist and rare book dealer. He had never published a word of fiction. His novel, Darke (2017) was prompted by an insistent inward voice, and its author was called “a late-flowering genius of a novelist” in The Times […]

Essay | How to Run a Queer Reading Series at a LDN Arts Institution by Isabel Waidner

Queers Read This is an ongoing reading series started independently by artist Richard Porter and myself at the Horse Hospital in London in 2017, and co-run with the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) since. Quarterly events feature readings of texts which work across intersectional systems of oppression, and challenge formal distinctions between prose and poetry or critical and creative writing. Themes range from pansies and twink mysticism […]

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