Review | The Assignment by Liza M. Wiemer

Liza M. Wiemer’s novel, The Assignment, is a frighteningly realistic portrayal of modern antisemitism in a small-town community that blurs the lines between past and present, fiction and reality. The novel is a fictionalised account of a real assignment that is given to students, which instructs them to debate the Final Solution, the Nazi’s plan for genocide of the Jewish people. When students Logan March and Cade Crawford protest holding the debate […]

Review | Artemisia by Anna Banti

On 4 August 1944, as the Nazi occupation of Italy was coming to an end, the German forces evacuating Florence unleashed a final barrage of destruction, deploying mines across the city to bring down all but one of the historic bridges which had lined the River Arno for centuries. The blasts brought down many of the houses on each side of the river, including the house of writers Anna Banti and Roberto Longhi. Buried among the rubble of the house was the near-completed […]

Review | Hag: Forgotten Folktales Retold by Virago Press

Hag is an anthology of stories responding to classic folk tales from the British Isles, penned by some of the most exciting women writing in Britain and Ireland today. Originally conceived as an Audible podcast, the book version from Virago Press also has two new stories as well as copies of the original tales on which they are based. Daisy Johnson starts Hag off with a story that poses the question at the heart of any retelling: Is it mine to tell? […]

Essay | The Maestro and the Apocalypse by Leonard Quart

I have never been optimistic about the human condition, or believed that the flow of history moves progressively forward. And although I have a passion for art, cities, friendship, and a belief in love and marriage, I have always felt that the life we live is more than touched with despair and darkness. It bounds our everyday lives –  and my favourite filmmakers echo that vision. The director who was – and remains – most meaningful to me is the maestro of angst, Ingmar Bergman, whose work […]

Interview | ‘Our societies tend to reduce Islam to its political dimension’ – Sophie Van Der Linden on her novel Après Constantinople

My aesthetic approach is primarily poetic and doesn’t really fit into ‘-ist’ suffixes. But I would be lying if I denied my intentions. One of those is providing models of strong women with intimate, sensual and intellectual responses to life. Another is to offer a different perspective of the Orient, and particularly of Islam. Because of the radicalism and terrorism that confront us […]

Fiction | The Swallowed Man by Edward Carey

I am writing this account, in another man’s book, by candlelight, inside the belly of a fish. I have been eaten. I have been eaten, yet I am living still. I have tried to get out. I have made many attempts. But I must conclude that it is not possible. I am trapped within an enormous creature and am slowly being digested. I have found a strange place to exist, a cave between life and death. It is an unhappy miracle. I am afraid  of  the  dark. The dark is coming for me […]

Essay | The Wretched Little Place in Devonshire by Horatio Morpurgo

September 2016. On the second day of the new autumn term, a sixth former sets out from home. His bike is later found padlocked to a fence behind a church, his uniform stuffed into a binbag lying nearby. His letter to his parents arrives next day telling them where the bike is and promising not to be away for ‘longer than a year’. From his Kindle it is apparent that he has just read Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London […]

Essay | Other Celestial Bodies by Joanna Hershon

A solar eclipse was coming. It was supposed to happen the following day or maybe the day after. I’d heard something about the store selling ‘eclipse glasses,’ but I hadn’t been paying attention. I know now that this was the first solar eclipse to be visible throughout the United States since 1918. I know now that marriage proposals and weddings were timed to occur during the eclipse. I know now that Donald Trump […]

Interview | ‘The party that never stops’: Sarah Lucas on The Colony Room Club, Soho, with Darren Coffield

I was with Damien Hirst and Angus Fairhurst (I imagine) and we popped in. It was dingy, green and crowded. Also smoky. Ian Board was behind the bar insulting people and swearing as they came in. I thought he was horrible. Someone said, ‘He’s alright when you get to know him.’ I thought, I’ll bear that in mind. I didn’t go back for a long while. By that time Ian was dead. He was still there in the form of his sculpted head which contained his ashes. Michael Wojas said that you can roll a pinch up […]

Essay | The Fate of the Artist: Wyndham Lewis and Saul Bellow by Jeffrey Meyers

Wyndham Lewis’s adult life spanned two world wars. In the First he fought on the front lines and was also a war artist; in the Second he lived in poverty in America and Canada. An innovative painter, he wrote fierce polemics on art and the role of the artist in society but held a bleak view of modern life. Auden called the self-styled ‘Enemy’ and conservative advocate of western culture ‘That lonely old volcano of the Right.’ Lewis idealistically believed that the power of […]

Preview | Dreamsongs: From Medicine to Demons to Artificial Intelligence at Colnaghi Gallery

In the window of the Colnaghi Gallery is a black and white close-up of a sleeping man. Young, beautiful, serene, perhaps dreaming. It is a still taken from Andy Warhol’s first avant-garde film, Sleep (1964), and the man in it is John Giorno, a beat poet and Warhol’s lover at the time. The film was nearly six hours long and Giorno went on to become famous in his own right, leading a life with a string of lovers that included Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg […]

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