• A potential novel: In the Wolf’s Mouth by Adam Foulds

    Reading Adam Foulds’s new novel In the Wolf’s Mouth, I was reminded of literary movements like Oulipo, which explored the concept of ‘potential literature’. Don’t get me wrong: it’s not that the novel is particularly experimental. It’s the ‘potential’ aspect that ...

The Blue Room by Hanne Ørstavik

I cannot get out. Something must have happened to the lock. That’s the first line of Hanne Ørstavik’s novel The Blue Room. Are you feeling claustrophobic yet? If I tell you that the entire novel takes place with the protagonist locked in the same small bedroom, you may feel yourself starting to hyperventilate. Don’t worry, though. Johanne may […]

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Calling all unpublished novelists: here’s your break!

In February 2008, I was in despair. I’d given up a good job as a reporter at The Wall Street Journal in New York to pursue my dream of writing fiction, and all I had to show for it was a stack of rejection slips. Exactly a year later, I was standing outside a branch […]

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The Dead Lake by Hamid Ismailov

How do you tell the story of a remote injustice to a jaded world? You could make a documentary, or interview the survivors and write a 15,000-word magazine exposé. You could petition the authorities to commission an official enquiry, and wait a decade or two for the results. Hamid Ismailov chose to write a lyrical […]

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The Future of Books: Reactive?

How would you like to read a book that reacted to your emotions, and changed its storyline to give you exactly what you wanted? It sounds bizarre, impossible and faintly terrifying, but according to this article in NewScientist magazine, it’s coming soon, not just to books, but to movies, TV and other formats. Welcome to […]

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What Sport Tells Us About Life by Ed Smith

As well as The Chinese Garden of Serenity, Vishy also sent me What Sport Tells Us About Life. Again, it was a thoughtful gift. Although I don’t tend to write about sport on here, I’ve always enjoyed watching cricket, and Vishy and I have talked about it quite a bit by email. The author of this […]

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A Chinese Garden of Serenity by Hung Tzu-ch’eng

My friend Vishy gave me A Chinese Garden of Serenity for Christmas. It was such a nice surprise to open the package from India and see this book, because it showed so much thought. Vishy had seen my posts on the Tao Te Ching and the meditation retreat, and thought I’d like this book. He was […]

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