Paradise Rot

by Jenny Hval, Marjam Idriss (Translator) Hyper-sensual, surreal and as intense as bletted fruit. Norwegian student, Jo, arrives in a new country to study biology. The strangeness of her new life becomes stranger still when she finds accommodation in a former brewery. The building is rotten to the core. Through its paper-thin, partial partitions, Jo Continue Reading

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

Killing Commendatore

Haruki Murakami, transl. Philip Gabriel and Ted Goossen A male thirtysomething artist at a crossroads in his life discovers a painting in the attic. A bell mysteriously rings in the woods in the dead of night, always at the same time. Then, one by one, characters from the painting make an appearance. This has everything 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

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

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

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

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