wed 01/02/2023

literature

'I let it emerge': an interview with Fiona Benson on the cusp of the TS Eliot Prize announcement

Fiona Benson’s new collection of poems, Ephemeron (Jonathan Cape, 2022), tries to capture those things that are always moving out of grasp. It does this through four sections: the first, “Insect Love Songs”, thrums with a lyric transience, zeroing-...

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Best of 2022: Books

From Kafka’s spry sketches to Derek Owusu’s novel-poem, and Jaan Kross’s Estonian Wolf Hall to Katherine Rundell’s spirited biography of John Donne, our reviewers take the time to share their favourite books of 2022. Before his death, Franz...

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Orlando, Garrick Theatre review - Emma Corrin is incandescent in an underwhelming adaptation

Identity is thorny business. This was the parting thought of Anna X, the play that marked Emma Corrin’s West End debut in the summer of 2021. The same credo governs Corrin’s return to London theatre with Orlando, in Neil Bartlett’s adaptation of...

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Cormac McCarthy: The Passenger review - abstruse, descriptive, digressive

Cormac McCarthy’s first books in over a decade are coming out this year, a month apart from one another. The Passenger tells the story of deep-sea diver Bobby Western, desperately in love with his perfect, beautiful, wildly intelligent dead sister,...

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Laura Beatty: Looking for Theophrastus review - adventures in psychobiography

Laura Beatty is a kind of Shirley Valentine figure in contemporary English literature. A decade and a half ago she published an astonishing debut novel entitled Pollard about female emancipation from the strictures of English life. In that story her...

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Scholastique Mukasonga: The Barefoot Woman review - remembering Rwanda before 1994

To read Scholastique Mukasonga’s memoir, The Barefoot Woman, beautifully translated from the French by Jordan Stump, is to see simultaneously through the eyes of a woman and a child.The mother, the industrious and ingenious Stefania, watches her...

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Extract: Catching Fire by Daniel Hahn

Daniel Hahn began his translation of Jamás el fuego nunca, a novel by experimental Chilean artist Diamela Eltit, in January 2021. Considering the careful, difficult but not impossible “craft” of translation as he worked, Hahn kept a diary,...

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Best of 2021: Books

“Duck! Here comes another year.” We can, I think, all empathise with the motions and emotions of Ogden Nash’s new year poem, “Good Riddance, But Now What?” Before, however, we bid a troublesome year farewell, we look back at the year in fiction and...

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Pride & Prejudice* (*sort of), Criterion Theatre review - bursting with wit, verve, and love

“We haven’t started yet!” Hannah-Jarrett Scott, dressed in Doc Martens under a 19th-century shift, reassures us as she attempts to dislodge a yellow rubber glove from a chandelier in the middle of the set of Pride & Prejudice* (*sort of)....

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Stuart Jeffries: Everything, All the Time, Everywhere - How We Became Post-Modern review - entertaining origin-story for the world of today

In his 1985 essay “Not-Knowing”, the American writer Donald Barthelme describes a fictional situation in which an unknown “someone” is writing a story.“From the world of conventional signs,” Barthelme writes, laying out for the reader this story...

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Wole Soyinka: Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth review – sprawling satire of modern-day Nigeria

Eight-years passed between the publication of Wole Soyinka’s debut novel, The Interpreters (1965), and his second, Season of Anomy (1973). A lot happened in the interim. One of Nigeria’s most resilient critics of corruption and...

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Thomas Hardy: Fate, Exclusion and Tragedy, Sky Arts review – too much and not enough

Born in 1840, Thomas Hardy lived a life of in-betweens. Modern yet traditional, the son of a builder who went on to become a famous novelist, he belonged both to Dorset and London. When he died, his ashes were interred at Westminster Abbey, but his...

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