Essay | Brighton Offshore by Shaun Traynor

Nine miles out from land but clearly visible, Brighton now has its own extensive windfarm. No matter where you live or work, in a strange way, it is always in front of you. Working at full capacity it can serve up enough electricity to light 350,000 homes and has become an established feature of the landscape. [...]

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.' [...]

Review | Europa 28, edited by Sophie Hughes and Sarah Cleaves

Edited by Sophie Hughes and Sarah Cleaves, Europa 28, published by Comma Press, brings together 28 women - a group of artists, writers, scientists and entrepreneurs - to share their perspectives on Europe and its future. Taking its name after the myth of Europa, the anthology comprises essays, short stories and think pieces on this theme. In her introduction, Bates bluntly states that 'Women see things differently.' This is perhaps a understatement [...]

Interview | Joo Yeon Park on Beckett, Failure and ‘the Unword’

'If you are to fail, you might as well, as Beckett put it, 'fail better'; you might as well volunteer to fail. And failure is, possibly, a necessity in art-making, and it's not necessarily a negative thing in art. It can prove to be a turning-point, to open up a space for discussion, for something that you haven’t expected to see or experience. So it can be a positive thing, so I think there's a double-edged sword in what Beckett means by failure.' […]

Interview | Joe Dunthorne on Cliché, Adulting and Coming of Age

What do we even want from coming of age? Do we want to be wise, mature people, or do we just care about ticking off a list of pre-agreed markers: homeowning, or a long-term relationship, or whatever it is? Ultimately, you can be a child, you can be the most immature and undeveloped human, and have achieved all those things. So obviously it’s a problematic term. Obviously, Catcher in the Rye is the ultimate touchstone for literary coming-of-age for most people [...]

Archive | Roger Blin and Beckett by Mary Benson

‘...Some were to say, “At last, a Christian play!” but I soon came to the conviction that for Beckett it was a mockery. I didn’t want to press the symbolic side. I didn’t bother the actors by saying, “Look, careful, this is very important, it means something other than it seems”. I wanted them to discover it for themselves; through the rehearsals they should give something surpassing the everyday realism of tramps — who finally are not tramps but you and me.’ [...]

Interview | Keith Burstein: Tonality, Beethoven and Memories of Bonn

A new work by composer Keith Burstein, marking the 250th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven, will be performed by the London Chamber Orchestra at the Cadogan Hall in March. Burstein is renowned for his fervent championing of tonal music, as opposed to the atonal style which has dominated classical music teaching and composition for over a century, and Memories of Bonn looks set to ignite the ongoing controversy surrounding the on-going pre-eminence of atonality [...]

Fiction | Blood Brothers by Jessica Andrews

When we were splattered with freckles and tied up in pigtails, we picked sharp rocks from the garden and pushed them into each other’s wrists, our flesh tender and white like peeled crabs. I remember the way our wounds looked, mushy and filled with pieces of grit. ‘Now we are blood brothers,’ I said. She looked at me from behind her nose. 'Blood sisters,’ she pouted. We got changed on the back seat of the car every Wednesday night as my mam drove us from school [...]

Interview | Radu Oreian: ‘Microscripts and Melted Matters’

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 [...]

Interview | Emma Donoghue on writing hunger

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 [...]

Review | The Sweet Indifference of the World by Peter Stamm

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 [...]

Interview | Teresa Grimes, Director of Tintype on Essex Road 6

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 [...]

Essay | Dostoevsky and Poor Folk by Patrick Maxwell

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 [...]

Review | Not Working by Josh Cohen

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 [...]

Review | In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

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 [...]

Interview | Jane Draycott on sound poetry, translation and poetic process

'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 [...]

Review | Jake Wood-Evans: Relic at Discovery Centre, Winchester

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 [...]

Review | Old Food by Ed Atkins & Dark Satellites by...

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 [...]

Review | Machines Like Me and The Cockroach by Ian McEwan

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 [...]

Fiction | Exposition by Nathalie Léger tr. Amanda DeMarco

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 [...]

Review | The Dressing-Up Box and Other Stories by David Constantine

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 [...]

Review | Fairview at the Young Vic

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 [...]

Review | The Factory by Hiroko Oyamada

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 [...]

Fiction | “Smack” from Salt Slow by Julia Armfield

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 [...]'

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