NON-REVIEW: TRICK, BY DOMENICO STARNONE, TRANSLATED BY JHUMPA LAHIRI (2018)

Daniele is a grumpy old man and professional illustrator living in Milan. His daughter asks him to look after his four-year-old grandson Mario for four days, in the Neapolitan apartment where she lives with her family and where Daniele himself was born. Daniele agrees, reluctantly, but he doesn't particularly like Mario. Mario himself is annoyingly … Continue reading NON-REVIEW: TRICK, BY DOMENICO STARNONE, TRANSLATED BY JHUMPA LAHIRI (2018)

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REVIEW: HOLD (aka HOUSEGIRL), BY MICHAEL DONKOR (2018)

Belinda, seventeen, and Mary, eleven, are servant-girls for a well-to-do retired couple in Kumasi, Ghana. Amma, also seventeen, is a British-Ghanaian girl living in London: she used to be such a good daughter, but lately something's gotten into her, she's been moody, at best uncommunicative and at worst full of "rude cheekiness", to use her … Continue reading REVIEW: HOLD (aka HOUSEGIRL), BY MICHAEL DONKOR (2018)

REVIEW: LOVE, BY HANNE ØRSTAVIK, TRANSLATED BY MARTIN AITKEN (2018)

Female characters tend not to win literary awards. This according to data collected by novelist Nicola Griffith (who happens to have written one of my favourite books of all time, Hild). I don't know if Sarah Hall (who happens to be one of my favourite authors of all time) knew this when she said, in … Continue reading REVIEW: LOVE, BY HANNE ØRSTAVIK, TRANSLATED BY MARTIN AITKEN (2018)

REVIEW: FELIX CULPA, BY JEREMY GAVRON (2018)

Felix Culpa is a short noir made up (almost) entirely of sentences taken from about 100 other texts—mostly novels (from Calvino to Tolkien, Raymond Chandler to Cormac McCarthy), but also the King James Bible, Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf, Elmore Leonard's tips for writers, and a choice selection of literary non-fiction, including director Werner Herzog's … Continue reading REVIEW: FELIX CULPA, BY JEREMY GAVRON (2018)

REVIEW: THINGS A BRIGHT GIRL CAN DO, BY SALLY NICHOLLS (2017)

This month marks the 100th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act 1918, which gave British women the right vote—though only women who were relatively wealthy and/or educated. (It was only in 1928, with the Equal Suffrage Act, that women were given exactly the same voting rights as men.) As my own small way … Continue reading REVIEW: THINGS A BRIGHT GIRL CAN DO, BY SALLY NICHOLLS (2017)

KESHIKI: A GUIDE TO STRANGERS PRESS’S SERIES OF CONTEMPORARY JAPANESE WRITING

Some books are like puzzles. And it's hard for me to resist thinking about Strangers Press's Keshiki series of contemporary Japanese writing as, specifically, a jigsaw puzzle. Most publishers would probably have gathered these stories in a single anthology, but Strangers decided to split them up into eight chapbooks, each between just over 30 and … Continue reading KESHIKI: A GUIDE TO STRANGERS PRESS’S SERIES OF CONTEMPORARY JAPANESE WRITING