‘Not an elegant, studied gesture but a convulsive act’ [book review]

A review of In the Margins by Elena Ferrante, translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein In our world of instant celebrity, Elena Ferrante is something of an anomaly. For three decades, she has been publishing – with wild success – under a pseudonym, her true identity known only to her Italian publisher. Though sheContinue reading ‘Not an elegant, studied gesture but a convulsive act’ [book review]

‘Cloth tells the story’ [book review]

A review of Worn: A People’s History of Clothing by Sofi Thanhauser ‘Unerringly, cloth tells the story of the rise and fall of our societies and cultures,’ writes Sofi Thanhauser in the conclusion to Worn: A People’s History of Clothing – a statement with which, having read this richly detailed book, I am more thanContinue reading ‘Cloth tells the story’ [book review]

‘The man who planted roses’ [book review]

A review of Orwell’s Roses by Rebecca Solnit Of all the great figures of twentieth-century literature, George Orwell is without doubt one of the most towering. As Rebecca Solnit rightly points out in her recent, creatively approached biography, he is one of the few writers – of any period; another is Shakespeare – to haveContinue reading “‘The man who planted roses’ [book review]”

‘Something had been brutally obliterated’ [book review]

A review of Black Box by Shiori Ito, translated from the Japanese by Allison Markin Powell Content warnings: rape, sexual assault. In April 2015, Shiori Ito, then a promising young TV journalist, met up in Tokyo with Noriyuki Yamaguchi, an older and highly respected journalist she had met during a stint working in New York.Continue reading ‘Something had been brutally obliterated’ [book review]

‘Always happy to introduce another psychoactive plant’ [book review]

A review of This Is Your Mind On Plants by Michael Pollan Midway through the second chapter of Michael Pollan’s This Is Your Mind On Plants, I was struck by a sudden thought. ‘Perhaps,’ I mused, ‘I should be drinking more coffee.’ That this was startling is putting it mildly, but the thing was, he’dContinue reading ‘Always happy to introduce another psychoactive plant’ [book review]

‘There is no moment too small in the world’ [book review]

A review of Finding the Mother Tree: Uncovering the Wisdom and Intelligence of the Forest by Suzanne Simard I have previously mentioned The Overstory as a novel that made a big impression on me. While its literary merits can no doubt be debated, it was its content – the message, if you like – thatContinue reading ‘There is no moment too small in the world’ [book review]

‘All we have, and all we are’ [book review]

A review of Tapestries of Life: Uncovering the Lifesaving Secrets of the Natural World by Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson, translated from the Norwegian by Lucy Moffatt ‘Nature is all we have, and all we are,’ writes Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson in Tapestries of Life, her second book to be translated into English by Lucy Moffatt following the extremely successfulContinue reading ‘All we have, and all we are’ [book review]

‘The first Englishman’ [book review]

A review of Alexandria: The Quest for the Lost City by Edmund Richardson ‘This is a story about following your dreams to the ends of the earth’. So writes Edmund Richardson in his introduction to Alexandria: The Quest for the Lost City, which one could be forgiven for thinking – on the basis of thatContinue reading ‘The first Englishman’ [book review]

‘Both very real and highly abstract’ [book review]

A review of The Border by Erika Fatland, translated from the Norwegian by Kari Dickson There is a definite sense of journey’s end on reaching the final pages of Erika Fatland’s The Border – for the reader as well as for the author herself. Not only is the book large in size (almost six hundredContinue reading ‘Both very real and highly abstract’ [book review]

‘We will need to learn to let go’ [book review]

A review of We Are The Weather by Jonathan Safran Foer At the end of my month of reading about the environment came this, the book I didn’t know I needed. In a couple of hundred pages and some very well-chosen words, Jonathan Safran Foer has managed to do what no other writer or journalistContinue reading ‘We will need to learn to let go’ [book review]

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