‘You can almost smell it’ [book review]

A review of English Magic by Uschi Gatward There is a definite kind of magic to Uschi Gatward’s debut collection. Published by the inimitable Galley Beggar Press, English Magic comprises twelve stories of varying length that all seem to radiate outwards from London, where Gatward was born, probing the shadowy spaces of countryside and coastline,Continue reading ‘You can almost smell it’ [book review]

‘Whether it could be borne’ [book review]

A review of The Bureau of Past Management by Iris Hanika, translated from the German by Abigail Wender The Bureau of Past Management doesn’t exist, but, after reading Iris Hanika’s excellent novel of the same name, I certainly wish it did. This vast institution at the heart of the German capital – nation, even –Continue reading ‘Whether it could be borne’ [book review]

‘I could draw it in writing’ [book review]

A review of Planet of Clay by Samar Yazbek, translated from the Arabic by Leri Price ‘A story . . . seems understandable when it’s about a large beast that eats people,’ muses the narrator of Samar Yazbek’s Planet of Clay, a haunting exploration of conflict, trauma and the utter impossibility of using words toContinue reading ‘I could draw it in writing’ [book review]

‘What does memory feed on?’ [book review]

A review of Madgermanes by Birgit Weyhe, translated from the German by Katy Derbyshire Sometimes you pick up a book and just know that this one is going to be special. There are a few things to suggest that Madgermanes might be so: the line drawings on its bright-yellow cover, the unusual size and gentleContinue reading ‘What does memory feed on?’ [book review]

The Monthly Booking: October 2021

Autumn is here, meaning – hopefully – more time for reading as the evenings draw in (something my overflowing bookshelves would definitely welcome). It’s also the perfect time to indulge in some more armchair travel, with books that will be taking me on journeys through England, Uruguay, Trinidad and beyond. Happily, and quite by chance,Continue reading The Monthly Booking: October 2021

‘So desperately temporary’ [book review]

A review of The Song of Youth by Montserrat Roig, translated from the Catalan by Tiago Miller Eva Baltasar, a prominent Catalan poet and author whose novel Permafrost I reviewed earlier this year, describes Montserrat Roig’s work as ‘an array of lagoons in which [her] most extraordinary flowers lay their roots’. It’s certainly an arrestingContinue reading ‘So desperately temporary’ [book review]

‘What makes a person want so much?’ [book review]

A review of The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki Thirteen-year-old Benny Oh is having a tough time. His beloved father, Kenji, a jazz musician, has been killed in an absurd accident to which Benny was witness. His mother, Annabelle, shy and nervous at the best of times, has retreated into herself, neglectingContinue reading ‘What makes a person want so much?’ [book review]

‘Everything’s going backward’ [book review]

A review of Bewilderment by Richard Powers ‘Moving’ is the word I have most often seen describing Richard Powers’s new novel, Bewilderment. The reviewers and blurb writers aren’t wrong: any novel about a widowed father trying to help his fragile son negotiate the horrors of the world we humans have created is – unless somethingContinue reading ‘Everything’s going backward’ [book review]

‘They’re the heads and we’re the bodies’ [book review]

A review of Here Is A Body by Basma Abdel Aziz, translated from the Arabic by Jonathan Wright Basma Abdel Aziz’s Here Is A Body begins, appropriately enough, with a chapter that is all about the corporeal. In vivid, fast-paced prose focused on immediate sensations – sound and smell in particular – the reader isContinue reading ‘They’re the heads and we’re the bodies’ [book review]

‘A poet, in a time of ashes’ [book review]

A review of Occupation by Julián Fuks, translated from the Portuguese by Daniel Hahn Julián Fuks is a man who chooses his words with great care. Fortunately for his English readers, Daniel Hahn is very much the same (anyone wishing for evidence of this might dip into his excellent Translation Diary from earlier this year,Continue reading ‘A poet, in a time of ashes’ [book review]

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