The Hearing Trumpet

Leonora Carrington Effervescent, hilarious and life-affirming. Marian Leatherby, 92, is given a hearing trumpet only to discover her family wants to pack her off to an old peoples’ home. On arrival, Marian’s dread turns to wonder. The facility comprises a collection of fantastical dwellings in which the larger-than-life residents live. Marian soon becomes embroiled in Continue Reading

Boy, Snow, Bird

Helen Oyeyemi A wicked stepmother, a bullying rat-catcher father and Snow White in 1950s-60s small-town America. Oyeyemi writes with a style as naïve as any fairytale, and just as magical. Like all the best folklore, Boy, Snow, Bird has something lurking, dark and dreadful, bullying below the surface. In this case, it is racism, racial Continue Reading

The Old Drift

Exuberant Zambian historico-futuristic matrilineal saga-of-sorts. In following the matrilineal lines, Serpell redresses history written by the victor/man. So, less about politics and more on the domestic front, less about wielding power and more on the receiving end. The hysterical realism mode (typified by a strong contrast between elaborately absurd prose, plotting, or characterization, on the Continue Reading

Hawthorn & Child

Keith Ridgway Hallucinogenic noir. Sharply-dressed detectives, Hawthorn and Child, investigate a drive-by shooting on London’s mean streets. Further bizarre and grisly events unfurl. As the dapper duo turn their attention to each new crime, earlier incidents peel away discarded. Marketed as a novel, Hawthorn and Child more closely resembles a series of interconnected, unresolved short Continue Reading

Thus Were Their Faces

Silvina Ocampo Weird, surreal, shot through with the blackest humour, and quite breathtaking. A retrospective of the short stories of Silvina Ocampo, spanning almost fifty years of her prolific writing career. Ocampo was denied Argentina’s National Prize for Literature for the reason that her writing was ‘desmasiado crueles’. This collection represents those stories deemed ‘too Continue Reading

Palafox

Eric Chevillard Absurdist, philosophical, fabulist. The Palafox is a creature who defies classification and makes a mockery of scientists’ quest for knowledge. From the Palafox’s first appearance, man wants to capture it, to enclose it, encase it, train it, splash it with sulphuric acid, study it, categorise it, claim its discovery as their own, and Continue Reading

Mr Fox

Helen Oyeyemi Myth and mysogeny: how we are shaped by the stories we tell. Oyeyemi’s anti-hero is a 1930s writer, Mr Fox, with the habit of killing off his heroines. When one of his characters, Mary Foxe, steps from his pages to question his motives, a writing duel ensues. His wife, Daphne, is jealous of Continue Reading

Gingerbread

Helen Oyeyemi Gingerbread is a dazzling mix of folklore and pop culture, and of allusions, absurdism and wit. Oyeyemi’s latest novel (pub. March 2019) returns to her familiar themes of displacement, social-ineptitude and women who don’t quite fit in. Harriet discovers her coeliac, teenage daughter, Perdita, unconscious in her bedroom surrounded by gingerbread – and Continue Reading