• Under the Tripoli Sky by Kamal Ben Hameda

    Peirene Press is known for publishing contemporary European literature in translation, but its latest offering takes us a little further afield, to Tripoli in the 1960s. Author Kamal Ben Hameda lives in Holland and writes in French, but this novella is set ...

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 stuck in my head. In the world of Oulipo and others, the emphasis was more […]

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The Reckoning by Jacob Soll

From Dante’s Inferno to Monty Python’s Flying Circus, accounting has often had a bad name. The Reckoning by Jacob Soll goes a long way towards redeeming it, showing how financial accountability has been at the heart of the rise and fall of nations from Renaissance Italy to the present day. A history of accounting may not sound […]

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What I’m Doing When I’m Not Here

I always promised myself I’d never write a “Sorry I haven’t posted in a while…” post. So this isn’t one of those posts. I’m not apologising, nor am I labouring under the illusion that hordes of you were out there waiting for my latest post. I’m just trying to get back into a regular rhythm, […]

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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Calling all unpublished novelists: here’s your break!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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