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

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 [...]

Interview | Michael Cisco on Weird Fiction, Cheerful Nihilism and Sex in Literature 

Michael Cisco has been hailed by China Miéville as being 'of a different kind and league from almost anyone writing today'. He is best known for his first novel The Divinity Student, winner of the International Horror Guild Award for Best First Novel of 1999. His novel The Great Lover was nominated for the 2011 Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novel of the Year, and declared the Best Weird Novel of 2011 by the Weird Fiction Review. His work has attracted attention in [...]

Interview | Sculptor Guy Portelli on ‘Wight Spirit, 1968-70’ and the Isle of Wight...

This summer sees Portelli also take on the role of curator for Masterpiece Art Gallery’s major exhibition Wight Spirit, 1968-70. History has been somewhat unkind to the 1970 Isle of Wight Music Festival. Its riotous atmosphere which saw over 600,000 people descend on Afton Down led Parliament to ban large open-air gatherings in the Isle of Wight County Council Act of 1971. But the festival remains a cultural landmark: it saw legends such as Jimi Hendrix [...]

Interview | Emily Henry on ‘Beach Read’ and Writing Romance

January Andrews has lost her faith in happy endings after suddenly losing her father and uncovering ugly truths about her parents’ marriage at his funeral. Moving into her father’s recently discovered beach house, the narrative follows a blossoming relationship between January and her neighbour and fellow writer, Augustus Everett, as they evolve from writing partners, to friends, to lovers. A perfect balance of drama, humour and romance, Beach Read is a heartfelt [...]

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...

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 [...]

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 [...]

Interview | David Constantine on Writing Lived Experience, Fiction as Felt Truth and Hope...

David Constantine counts himself lucky to be having a relatively peaceful lockdown at home with his wife, Helen, in Oxford. He spends his time going for long walks and, of course, writing in his shed at the bottom of the garden amidst the birdsong. The paperback edition of Constantine’s fifth short story collection, The Dressing-Up Box, will be released later this month by Comma Press [...]

Interview | Dima Alzayat on Alligator: stories of displacement, cultural myth and inter-generational trauma

Human beings are naturally drawn to a good story and that’s regardless of the medium, whether that’s writing or film or something else. I think fiction can help readers see ways of living and thinking that differ from how they live and think, and, at the very least, this can make them more open to or understanding of difference. For me, a good story puts the reader in someone else’s shoes and taps into a reader’s own experiences and emotions in order to connect them [...]

Interview | Leland Cheuk on the comic novel, stereotype and optimism

Leland Cheuk is the award-winning author of The Misadventures of Sulliver Pong (2015) and a short story collection, Letters from Dinosaurs (2016). He is the founder of the indie press 7.13 Books and teaches at the Sarah Lawrence College Writing Institute. I spoke to Leland about his newest novel No Good Very Bad Asian (2019) and his experience of belonging to the so-called 'model minority' in COVID-19 America. A cross between Paul Beatty’s The Sellout and [...]

Interview | Scarlett Sabet in conversation with Gerard Malanga

You ask how my week has been? I've been in lockdown now for 3 weeks or so, though I might've lost count. I have plenty to keep me busy in the house here, plus I have responsibility towards my 3 cats. And then there's dreamtime, between 4 & 6 in the morning. But suddenly I felt days back this ennui coming on, like, did the poetry suddenly disappear? Sometimes I'm concerned—but just for a moment mind you—whether I can match or even better the last one? There's no way [...]

Interview | Artist Nancy Cadogan on Keats, Gusto and the Keats-Shelley House in Rome

Nancy Cadogan is a British figurative painter. She was named as one of the ‘Top 20 New British Art Talents’ by Tatler magazine, describing her as ‘the new Paula Rego’ in 2008. Since then, she has been featured as one of 93 women artists to exhibit at The Ned, London, for its permanent Vault 100 exhibition. Her solo shows, Mind Zero and Footnotes (for the British Art Fair), were presented at the Saatchi Gallery in London. [...]

Interview | Rosanna Amaka on The Book of Echoes and Brixton in the 1980s

Rosanna Amaka, born to African and Caribbean parents, began writing her debut novel twenty years ago to give voice to the Brixton community in which she grew up, a community fast disappearing as a result of gentrification and emigration. The Book of Echoes unearths the pain of the past through the narration of an enslaved African before moving between worlds as the scars of history present themselves in the future lives of Michael and Ngozi. Amaka’s searing debut hums with heartache and [...]

Interview | Ra Page on Stories of Uprising and Protest in the Age of...

Ra Page is the founder and CEO of Comma Press, a Manchester-based publisher specialising in short stories. He has edited many anthologies, including Protest: Stories of Resistance (2017), and Litmus (2011), an Observer Book of the Year. He coordinated Literature Northwest until it merged with Comma Press, and is a former director of Manchester Poetry Festival. Ra's latest collection, Resist: Stories of Uprising (2019), pairs fictional retellings of British protests through the ages with historical afterwords [...]

Essay | Diary of a Pembridge Poet: June 1976 – March 1977 by Chris...

On 17th June 1976, Robert Greacen, Northern Irish poet and colleague of Chris Rice at a private language school in Holland Park, hosted the first of his poetry workshops from his flat in Pembridge Crescent, Notting Hill Gate. As the junior member at that first meeting, Chris kept a diary of the group’s comings and goings, and continued to do so for the next six years. The extracts below trace a ten-month period from the first meeting in a small flat in Notting Hill Gate to the group’s first public reading in Sloane Square [...]

Interview | Darren Coffield on Tales from the Colony Room: Soho’s Lost Bohemia

British painter and writer Darren Coffield has exhibited widely in the company of leading artists such as Damien Hirst, Howard Hodgkin, Patrick Caulfield and Gilbert and George, at venues ranging from the Courtauld Institute, Somerset House to Voloshin Museum, Crimea. His new book, Tales from the Colony Room, is an authorized history of one of London’s most infamous arts establishment, the Colony Room Club in Soho [...]

Interview | Sam Riviere on Martial, authenticity and stealing

"I discovered Martial’s poetry by searching for the number 104 for an unrelated reason, which was recorded on Wikipedia as being the year he probably died. I trust this kind of chance occurrence, and it led me to reading some of the epigrams, which I imagine I had vaguely heard of before. I responded immediately to their playfulness, sarcasm, brevity, devotion to social commentary, and general refusal of seriousness – especially things like Martial’s own admission that his poems aren’t even that good, a lot of the time." [...]

Interview | John Hitchens on Aspects of Landscape

A major new retrospective at Southampton City Art Gallery examines the work of British artist John Hitchens – over fifty works spanning almost six decades char the artist’s journey from his descriptive style to a unique form of abstract painting. The landmark show, featuring recent work that has never been seen in public before [...]

Interview | Jonathan Simons on Analog Sea, Neo-Romanticism and ‘the contemplative gap’

'The discomfort of boredom is never something human beings have liked, but reality and nature and the lack of technology, and the rudimentary qualities of technology, pushed back on us. The friction that we want to eradicate is defined by boredom and old age and sickness and death, and we need these things to be human, and we need these things to have interesting, vital arts and letters as well.'

Interview | Sinéad Gleeson on solidarity in sickness, isolation and empathy

Jack SollowaySinéad Gleeson on solidarity in sickness, isolation and empathy  With the UK government currently advising ‘social distancing’ and the country expecting further preventative measures against the coronavirus pandemic, Sinéad Gleeson’s debut book Constellations: Reflections...

Interview | Elizabeth Eade at HIX ART

HIX ART is currently presenting I know you are but what am I, the first major solo exhibition by acclaimed British artist Elizabeth Eade. In this new series of installations, Eade playfully and powerfully continues her exploration of a range of social and political issues. In 2018, Eade won the celebrated HIX Award, judged by the likes of Tracey Emin and Gavin Turk, with her piece Die Liste — a ten-metre-long handwritten list documenting the deaths [...]

Interview | Rahman Akar, Founder of Signature African Art

Over the last decade there has been consistent growth in interest and price for modern and contemporary African artists. While this has largely been true outside of the continent, there is now a growing class of collectors domestically operating in Africa itself. One of these collectors, Rahman Akar, has been doing so for over thirty years. In 1992 Akar founded Signature African Art, a gallery dedicated [...]

Interview | Atiq Rahimi on dreams, minimalism and the female nude

'Depicting the body is a very political act in my culture, no matter what you do with it; even if it’s abstract. Nudity is a political act. Unveiling the body is engaging with the essential in life, the universal. The body is fundamentally the same regardless of gender. Some political regimes divide the genders along the lines of insignificant bodily differences. Politics often create a contradiction between the sexes when, in actual fact, it’s just a difference, nothing else.' [...]

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