Essay | A Modest Proposal by I. Bickerstaff

Dear B.C., I write to you because accountancy is tiring my patience and I have developed some better schemes which will propel me to fame. It is melancholy to consider the bank statements and tax returns of common people while they hang in doubtful circumstances; and, only being trained to contend with positive numbers, I have not enjoyed examining the arrears, debts, and bankruptcies which now litter my desk, from which I can not extract my usual fees or [...]

Essay | Broken Inheritance by Richard Aronowitz

If you want to understand history, you need to go out and find its stories. You have to dig them out, unearth them, like archaeologists uncovering traces of earlier civilizations. These stories, the really important ones, are never written down in books. I spent much of one hot summer’s day in Haifa up in a cool, sun- dappled apartment on a quiet residential street at the bottom of the steps leading up to the Shrine of the Báb and its gardens on Mount Carmel [...]

Essay | Abdulrazak Gurnah on Afterlives and Colonial Hypocrisy

Samir JerajAbdulrazak Gurnah on Afterlives and Colonial HypocrisyTalking to the BBC as part of their History of the World in 100 objects, author...

Essay | Rediscovering Violette Leduc by Isabelle Marie Flynn

Most bibliophiles will name Simone de Beauvoir, George Sand and Colette among the greats of French literature. Yet they represent the tip of a subversive, transgressive and deeply political iceberg of women writers who have changed the literary and social landscape. As women’s voices grow louder and more diverse in modern publishing, it is vital to recognise that their writing is not new, nor has it just now become important. The words of women are sadly more [...]

Fiction | Asphyxia by Violette Leduc

My mother never gave me her hand… She always helped me on and off pavements by pinching my frock or coat very lightly at the spot where the armhole provides a grip. It humiliated me. I felt I was inside the body of an old horse with my carter dragging me along by one ear… One afternoon, as a gleaming carriage sped past, splattering the leaden summer with its reflections, I pushed the hand away right in the middle of the road. She pinched the cloth [...]

Fiction | It Was Night by Colin Fleming

My brother’s head sounded like a rabbit’s foot drumming against the baize-coloured carpeting of our room. I had been dreaming about Sarah Claire at our school. She had rabbits. Lots of 4-H stuff, which was why I was mulling signing up. The spittle at the edges of Maxwell’s mouth made him look rabid and he was contorting as if he didn’t have a backbone. I think I said ‘Go, Max, go!’ even though I knew something was well past wrong and death could be here [...]

‘Why I’m pleased humour isn’t taken seriously as an art form’...

Novel writing and comic strips are two different worlds, hence the difference in signature between Fabcaro and Fabrice Caro, though of course you find a bit of my style in both. I have two distinct approaches to writing. I’d even say that one is the opposite of the other: my comic strips are elliptical, focused on immediate effects and humour in particular. I’m down to the bone, so to speak. My desire to write novels came from a certain frustration with regard to words [...]

Review | Grimoire by Robin Robertson

Poet Robin Robertson, whose original tales summon the violent beauty of the Scottish landscape, dedicates his latest collection to ‘the taken: for all those feart of the glamour’, as Grimoire is a collection of the shadow self, for and about those who dwell on peripheries. In a collaboration that calls to mind the Brothers Grimm, the poet’s brother, Tim Robertson, has rendered illustrations that appear on the page like an inkblot test, dark mirrors lending space [...]

Review | Max Jacob: A Life in Art and Letters by...

Before the Great War a brilliant group of Jewish artists were drawn to Paris. Amedeo Modigliani (called Modi) was born in Italy; Moise Kisling, Jules Pascin, Jacques Lipschitz, Chaim Soutine, Marc Chagall and Sonia Delaunay came from Eastern Europe. The Jewish painter and poet Max Jacob (1876-1944), born in Quimper, Brittany, was the only Frenchman connected to this group [...]

Review | The Loneliness of the Soul at The Royal Academy...

I have written about Tracey Emin many times and have always felt that her self-absorption and solipsism undermined her art. So I was sceptical as I got myself along - mask-protected - for my socially distanced visit to the Royal Academy to see The Loneliness of the Soul, a show in which she has double billing with Edvard Munch. What hubris, I thought! She’s bound to be dwarfed by the master of angst. To be the junior partner. The also-ran. This, after all, is the [...]

Interview | Seán Hewitt on Tongues of Fire, the androgynous lyric...

I’m not actually a fan of Wordsworth. Of all the grand Romantic poets, I love John Clare. What I balk at with Wordsworth might be something that I’m concerned about in my own writing. We do this a lot. I say I don’t like people that are perhaps similar to me. Or I recognise a tendency in myself for the Wordsworthian, which is something I try to hold back on. Perhaps when I read Wordsworth it makes me cringe because I recognise my own tendencies to want [...]

Review | Calling Out the Destruction: Collected Non-Fiction Meditations on Violence...

Karl R De Mesa’s collection. despite belonging to a very different genre, reminded me of John Wayne’s classic Western movie True Grit (1969). It places conceptions of mettle, both physical and emotional, under a high-intensity microscope. In examining the nuances of grit, violence and determination, the Filipino author and reporter digs deep beneath the lazy, surface-level musings of an all too modern journalism. His profiles of mixed martial artists (MMA) such as [...]

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...

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 [...]

Interview | ‘The party that never stops’: Sarah Lucas on The...

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...

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...

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 [...]

Interview | ‘Stories don’t protect us, but they do prepare us’...

Here's the thing: I like to be a queer writer. Being a writer is a part of my identity; being queer is a part of my identity. I don't know that they're the most important parts – but they're important to me. Every writer wants their work to be read on many different levels. I want people to read my books and enjoy the stories – just on a surface level – and to be swept up in the narrative and transported somewhere else for a while. I'd also love it if readers enjoyed the language [...]

Interview | Artist hana on ‘Inventing Artist Paints’ – her exhibition...

The art world is awash with self-taught painters these days, but the emergence of artist hana (styled in lower case) has taken many by surprise, not only because of her talent but because she has re-invented oil paint. Her paint is made from coconut shells, algae, seaweed, dried fruits and vegetables. All this has caught the eye of Noel Fielding, among others, who is endorsing her ground-breaking innovations. This week sees the opening of her first solo show [...]

Interview | Alka Bagri on the Bagri Foundation ahead of ‘Tantra’...

For the last thirty years, the Bagri Foundation has quietly supported projects that promote Asian culture in the UK. While some of its partnerships are high-profile — it is the lead donor of the British Museum’s blockbuster Tantra exhibition — it also supports a variety of smaller projects for the visual arts, literature, music, dance, performance and lectures, and is now expanding its activities into other territories [...]

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