‘The surface of the world is thinner in certain places.’ [book review]

A review of salt slow by Julia Armfield Every now and then I read a book and wonder where it has been all my life. Julia Armfield’s salt slow is one such volume: a collection of short stories so dazzling, so powerful, so unutterably brilliant that it has – in the small yet not insignificantContinue reading “‘The surface of the world is thinner in certain places.’ [book review]”

Five of the Best Podcasts for Readers and Writers

Around eighteen months ago I started getting into podcasts – that wonderfully diverse (and constantly expanding) world in which you can listen to people talking about pretty much any interest you might have. For me, that interest is books, and fortunately there is a wealth of excellent literary podcasts out there – from publishing-industry newsContinue reading “Five of the Best Podcasts for Readers and Writers”

‘The endless geography of loss’ [book review]

A review of The Weight of Love by Hilary Fannin Given its average novel size, The Weight of Love is a heavy book. Hilary Fannin’s prose reverberates with loss – a deep, haunting pain that settled into my bones as I read. In a relatively simple story about relationships gone wrong, Fannin explores the complexityContinue reading “‘The endless geography of loss’ [book review]”

‘Something was unjust and frustrating’ [book review]

A review of Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo, translated from the Korean by Jamie Chang I had read quite a lot about Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 – the third novel by South Korean writer Cho Nam-Joo, which has been taking her own country and the rest of the world by storm – butContinue reading “‘Something was unjust and frustrating’ [book review]”

‘She opened the door to the world for me’. A review of The Adventures of China Iron by Gabriela Cabezón Cámara, translated from the Spanish by Fiona Mackintosh and Iona Macintyre

It has taken me a while to get round to writing this review, largely because I didn’t know what to say. In the face of Gabriela Cabezón Cámara’s torrent of effervescent prose, so striking and vivid it is almost breathing, my own words seem to have failed me completely. The Adventures of China Iron –Continue reading “‘She opened the door to the world for me’. A review of The Adventures of China Iron by Gabriela Cabezón Cámara, translated from the Spanish by Fiona Mackintosh and Iona Macintyre”

‘Hungry for knowledge in all its forms’. A review of Square Haunting by Francesca Wade

Sometimes the right book comes along at exactly the right time – and recently I’ve been lucky enough for this to happen often. The latest example is Francesca Wade’s Square Haunting, a fascinating, in-depth look at the lives of five women who lived and worked in Bloomsbury between the wars. While a couple of themContinue reading “‘Hungry for knowledge in all its forms’. A review of Square Haunting by Francesca Wade”

‘The tedium and indignity of being a person’. A review of You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld

Not everyone loves a short story. Over the last year or so I’ve become increasingly fascinated by them, but the experience can be pretty hit-and-miss. Some collections are exquisite, with each story a perfectly contained world of its own that leaves me moved, surprised, sometimes astounded. Others can be a little more challenging – theContinue reading “‘The tedium and indignity of being a person’. A review of You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld”

‘The reverse of the world.’ A review of Fate by Jorge Consiglio, translated from the Spanish by Carolina Orloff and Fionn Petch

I often wonder what effect the world around me has on my reading. Almost as soon as I opened Fate by Jorge Consiglio, I was blown away by how many timely pieces of sagacity the author had to offer. This started right from the Author’s Note, which opens with the words ‘The key question is:Continue reading “‘The reverse of the world.’ A review of Fate by Jorge Consiglio, translated from the Spanish by Carolina Orloff and Fionn Petch”

‘A room empty but for faint dancing light.’ A review of Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima, translated from the Japanese by Geraldine Harcourt

There have been many times in my life when I have been grateful for Japanese fiction. Although I have recently discovered the eccentric joys of Haruki Murakami, what I’m thinking of right now is a particular form of Japanese writing: the slender novellas translated into English that often fly under the radar but can haveContinue reading “‘A room empty but for faint dancing light.’ A review of Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima, translated from the Japanese by Geraldine Harcourt”

‘Reality has a habit of ruining convictions’. A review of It Would Be Night in Caracas by Karina Sainz Borgo, translated from the Spanish by Elizabeth Bryer

It’s funny how things work out. If I’d known what was going to happen this month, I might not have chosen to read Karina Sainz Borgo’s It Would Be Night in Caracas – a blistering portrayal of life in a society that has gone beyond the brink. Reading about hoarding, looting, indiscriminate violence and theContinue reading “‘Reality has a habit of ruining convictions’. A review of It Would Be Night in Caracas by Karina Sainz Borgo, translated from the Spanish by Elizabeth Bryer”

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