As I wandered through the pacific silence of Nosco Gallery, London, I came across the universe of Radu Oreian's art – and ‘universe’ really is the proper word for it. His works are often massive both in scale and scope. The longer you look, the more you’ll find of the following: sea creatures, bodily fluids, thumb prints, flush plasma, veins and arteries, infinity in pointillism – even nostalgia for your childhood dreams. ‘Microscripts and Melted Matters’ represents a contemporary [...]
Set in Ireland in 1858, seven years after the potato famine, The Wonder tells the story of an English nurse who is hired to spend two weeks observing an eleven-year old girl, who, her parents claim, has not eaten for months. Based on the almost fifty cases of ‘fasting girls’ - of women who claimed to be surviving without food for months on end in Europe and North America between the sixteenth and twentieth centuries - Donoghue’s novel anticipates the invention of anorexia [...]
Christoph and Magdalena. Chris and Lena. Peter Stamm’s latest novel, The Sweet Indifference of the World, is a short, sophisticated tale for the post-truth era, in which four identities become irreparably intertwined. Our narrator, the middle-aged Christoph, invites a young woman named Lena to meet him in a Swedish cemetery: ‘I hadn’t left any number or address, only a time and a place and my first name: Please come to Skogskyrkogården tomorrow at two [...]
Currently illuminating the window of Tintype gallery, on the Essex Road, in the London borough of Islington, is the sixth edition of the Essex Road project, which commissions eight artists each year to create a moving image work in response to the road itself. At the helm of the gallery is Director Teresa Grimes, who has created a dynamic programme featuring UK-based and international contemporary artists, including exhibitions, talks, workshops, performances and walks [...]
Wilfred Owen captured the national spirit best when he talked of the ‘drawing-down of blinds’, surely the most succinct depiction of English melancholia. The English spirit – distinct from of Britishness, though also a part of it – is one of deep decline under the shadow of former empire. It is the spirit of T. S. Eliot’s line ‘winter’s afternoon | In a secluded chapel’ in ‘Little Gidding’; of the quiet introit sung by an evensong choir, backing away into the cathedrals’ dingy corners [...]
At the start of Not Working, Josh Cohen reflects on the experience of caring for a friend’s rabbit, Rr. Expecting to develop some relationship with Rr., Cohen, a practicing psychoanalyst, finds himself frustrated with the rabbit in the same way that small children are, when confronted with babies or domestic pets who prove indifferent to their affections. Over time, however, he develops a begrudging respect for the fluffy insolent [...]
People, generally speaking, do not want to read a memoir on abuse. It’s not that readers do not care for the subject; in fact, caring is what makes it hard. Carmen Maria Machado’s In the Dream House is noteworthy for many reasons, but for this most of all: Machado will keep you reading when you most want to turn away. Three hundred or so pages packed with emotional manipulation and physical terror is, unsurprisingly, a challenge for readers [...]
'It’s dark in here and forest green: Britannica, sixteen oak trees in a London living room, / the little girl, my mother, in the bookcase glass. / Italy, Ithaca, Izmail, Japan, each page a mainsail, / turning, HMS Discovery – none of the rivers of southern Italy is of any great importance.' - Jane Draycott, ‘Italy to Lord’. British poet Jane Draycott is interested in sound poetry and collaboration. Her translation of the Middle English poem Pearl won the Stephen Spender Prize [...]
Relic is a new body of work by British artist Jake Wood-Evans, presented by the Hampshire Cultural Trust, in collaboration with Unit London, at the Discovery Centre, Winchester. Comprising 17 of his works in total, the show draws upon themes of mortality, the formation of memory, and religious experience. Wood-Evans cites a variety of influences from the European canon of art, including J.M.W Turner, Peter Paul Reubens, and Titian [...]
Want to feel young? Fitzcarraldo Editions – whose small roster of authors includes two of the last five Nobel laureates for literature – is less than five years old. Its first book, Matthias Enard’s Zone, was published in August of 2015, which makes the independent publishing house exactly three months younger than Mad Max: Fury Road [...]
For fans of Ian McEwan’s writing, 2019 presented two rough-cut diamonds: Machines Like Me and The Cockroach. Not without their flaws, as some critics noted, they are nonetheless highly enjoyable and sure to leave even the ultra-demanding and fastidious reader hankering for more. The novels differ in more ways than one. Firstly, there’s size: Machines Like Me clocks in at a reasonable 306 pages, while The Cockroach, a much slimmer work [...]
She enters. She is roused by anger and reproach. She bursts onto the right of the image as if it were a backdrop masked with curtains. One hand clutches a knife against her waist, which gleams obliquely across her belly. Her face is cold, her mouth thin, lips tight, eyebrows knit, her gaze is clear and hard, her hair is slicked into two little severely parted plaits. The knife, whose handle disappears into her balled fist, vibrates at the very center, nearly absent from it [...]
David Constantine’s fifth collection of short stories, The Dressing-Up Box and Other Stories, is ostensibly about loss, conflict and loneliness. His characters are driven to the edge as they struggle to engage with the world and must deal with their suffering. Yet, throughout the collection, the author clings to the promise of hope during turbulent times [...]
Fairview is an innocuous title for a play. It has the ring of a sleepy American backwater, a kind of every-town. The curtain comes up and we are faced with the ground floor of a suburban house. The walls are orchid pink, the dining chairs gleaming white and, in the centre of the stage, Beverly (Nicola Hughes) is peeling carrots. She lip-synchs and dances along to the song playing on the radio, then adjusts her makeup in front of an imaginary mirror hanging on the fourth wall [...]
Picture a large office, staffed with hundreds of employees. Each worker has their own cubicle, placed in long rows throughout the space to make a corporate honeycomb; their heads are quietly buried in their work. They’re next to each other, but not touching or talking. Their corporate workspaces embody the paradox of the cubicle: a part of something, but also completely isolated [...]
The following text is an extract from the story “Smack”, taken from Julia Armfield’s debut collection Salt Slow, published by Picador: 'The jellyfish come with the morning – a great beaching, bodies black on sand. The ocean empties, a thousand dead and dying invertebrates, jungled tentacles and fine, fragile membranes blanketing the shore two miles in each direction. They are translucent, almost spectral, as though the sea has exorcised its ghosts [...]'
It is odd that the two book-length studies of Albert Camus’ The Stranger (1942), by English Showalter and Alice Kaplan, do not discuss the profound influence of Franz Kafka’s The Trial (1925). Other critics have emphasized, denied or deplored this influence. Herbert Lottman notes that while writing his novel Camus 'had read and reread Kafka, whose work seemed to him prophetic, one of the most significant of our time.' The critic Jean Paulhan - thinking of Hemingway’s simple sentences [...]
Elizabeth's Strout's bestselling debut, Amy and Isabelle, announced the arrival of a serious talent. Her second, Abide With Me, went one better. With 2008's Olive Kitteridge she moved from novels to a trickier form: the cycle of interconnected stories. It was that rare kind of book that can reasonably be called a masterpiece, and it won its author the Pulitzer prize [...]
This autumn, Archipelago Books published two short story collections in translation: A. Ambai’s A Kitchen in the Corner of the House, translated by the late Lakshmi Holmström, and Hebe Uhart’s The Scent of Buenos Aires, translated by Maureen Shaughnessy. Ambai’s and Uhart’s collections reveal each author’s range as a storyteller [...]
Stuart Martin Leo Dixon on Death in Venice at the Royal Opera House At only 23 years old, British dancer Leo Dixon has already begun an impressive...
Massenet’s Werther makes a welcome return to the Royal Opera House in the third revival of Benoît Jacquot’s 2004 production. Based on Goethe’s Die Leiden...
Eric Block Keith Coventry: The Old Comedy This month sees the opening of UPSTONE SOHO, a new gallery in the heart of Soho. Its inaugural show is...
The Royal Opera House seems to be celebrating the career of Gerald Barry this season. In February they are staging his latest opera, Alice’s...
Don Pasquale by Donizetti is a frothy comedy – or at least it should be. This new production at the Royal Opera House by...