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

The Fox Woman

Kij Johnson Haunting ménage à trois between a man, his wife and a fox, set in Heian-era (C9th) Japan. Based on a traditional Japanese fairy tale. Kaya no Yoshifuji fails to secure a position in the New Year appointments at court and returns with his perfect wife, Shikujo, and young son to their now-dilapidated country Continue Reading

Black Leopard, Red Wolf

Marlon James Ribald, packed to the gods with African myths but not easy. Tracker’s quest, to find a missing boy, becomes a search for identity. Black Leopard, Red Wolf is a masterclass in the art of writing dialogue. James’s quick fire repartee brings his array of characters to life. The novel is extraordinarily inventive, populated Continue Reading

Ten of the Best in 2018

In no particular order: The Truth and Other Lies, Sascha Grango – dark thriller Folk, Zoë Gilbert – dark, immersive folklore The Drive, Tyler Keevil – road trip The Loney, Andrew Hurley – atmospheric, suspenseful Justine, Alice Thompson – sensual, gothic tale The Overstory, Richard Powers – the biological story of a tree and the 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

My Favourite Reading

I like to read magic realism, myth, folklore, weird fiction, metafiction, off-kilter realities, genre-bending, genre-defying, thrills, spills, adventure, lost worlds, inner worlds, strong plots, stronger women, playful language, wit, wisdom, irreverence. Favourite authors include Angela Carter, Helen Oyeyemi, Silvina Ocampo, Carmen Maria Machado, Haruki Murakami, Scarlett Thomas. Form & Format Novel-length and short fiction. Non-fiction: Continue Reading

Reading as a Writer

To write well, read as much as you can and as widely as you can. Push yourself to read authors you’ve not come across before. Go outside your comfort zone with genres. Try reading in different formats, you may find a book you struggled with in paperback captivates you in audio. Read like a writer. Continue Reading

Nudibranch

Irenosen Okojie Transformations, turning points and trajectories. This short story collection is populated by Grace Jones impersonators, sea goddesses and time-hopping vagrants. Characters reinvent themselves (Grace Jones and Komza Bright Morning), they grapple with situations not of their making (the loss or absence of a child is a recurring theme), and they find themselves at Continue Reading