mon 02/08/2021

fiction

10 Questions for novelist Mieko Kawakami

Mieko Kawakami sits firmly amongst the Japanese literati for her sharp and pensive depictions of life in contemporary Japan. Since the translation of Breasts and Eggs (2020), she has also become somewhat of an indie fiction icon in the UK, with her...

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Adam Mars-Jones: Batlava Lake review - pride and prejudice in the Kosovo War

For a slim book of some 100 pages, Batlava Lake by Adam Mars-Jones is deceptively meandering. The novella is narrated by Barry Ashton, an engineer attached to the British Army troops stationed with the peacekeeping forces during the Kosovo War....

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Danielle Evans: The Office of Historical Corrections review - what happens when history comes knocking

There’s something refreshing about fiction you can easily trace back to the question “what if?” What if this or that existed? What would happen? What could? That question doesn’t have to send you down memory lane, wondering about roads not...

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Victoria Mas: The Mad Women's Ball review - compelling plot meets disquieting history

To this day, if you take a stroll down Paris’ Boulevard de l’Hôpital, you’ll come across an imposing building: the Hôpital Pitié-Salpêtrière. It’s one of Europe’s foremost hospitals. It’s the place where 20th-century icons Josephine Baker and Michel...

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Kylie Whitehead: Absorbed review - boundary-blurry, darkly funny debut

Absorbed meets Allison at the end of her relationship with Owen. They are at a New Year's Eve party when she realises that their 10-year partnership has wound down. So far, so normal. But even within this introduction, we are drawn into Allison's...

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Lucy Caldwell: Intimacies review - exploring the empty spaces

In the first short story of Lucy Caldwell’s collection Intimacies, “Like This”, one of the worst possible things that could ever happen to a parent occurs. On the spur of a stressful moment in a café, an overloaded mother takes her screaming toddler...

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Sunjeev Sahota: China Room review - separate, related lives

China Room, Sunjeev Sahota’s third novel, is a familiar, ancestral tale: the story of Mehar, living in late 1929 in rural Punjab, is narrated alongside that of her unnamed descendant in 1999, who has grown up in England. Despite the hardships...

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Andrea Bajani: If You Kept a Record of Sins review - where blame, grief and discovery meet

“I think it happened to you, too, the first time you arrived.” So begins Andrea Bajani’s second novel (Se consideri le colpe, 2007), recently translated from Italian by Elizabeth Harris, with the narrator’s characteristic reserve. “You”, that...

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Edward St Aubyn: Double Blind review - constructing 'cognition literature'

If it weren’t for the warning on the blurb, the first chapter of Double Blind would have you wondering whether you’d ordered something from the science section by mistake. It's a novel that throws its reader in at the deep end, where that end is...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Amina Cain on her first novel and her eternal fascination with suggestion

Amina Cain is a writer of near-naked spaces and roomy characters. Her debut collection of short fiction, I Go To Some Hollow (Les Figues, 2009), located itself in the potential strangeness of everyday thoughts and experience. Her second, Creature (...

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Alice Ash: Paradise Block review - a matrix-like collection that reinvents the short story genre

“Burglar alarms jangled through the empty hallways of Paradise Block.” In this ramshackle, lonely tenement, such alarms might be one’s only company. Yet, in this intricate collection of short stories, the inhabitants’ lives intertwine. Alice Ash’s...

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Raven Leilani: Luster - portrait of the artist as a black millennial woman

One of the finer episodes in Raven Leilani’s startling debut (which contains an embarrassment of fine episodes) comes about halfway through, when Edie, our young, struggling black narrator, starts working as a rider for a “popular in-app delivery...

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