Amora by Natalia Borges Polesso: Review

Amora won several major literary prizes when it was first published in Brazil several years ago, and having just got my hands on the soon-to-be-published English translation, I can see why. The short stories in this collection by Natalia Borges Polesso are often intimate, often poignant, and always beautifully written. They mostly explore love between women, all the way from… Read More

The Sound of the Mountain by Yasunari Kawabata: Review

Imagine you’re a parent who’s always done the right thing, lived life carefully and respectfully, had a decent job, raised a family. Then you see your children’s lives and marriages falling apart. Your son cheats shamelessly on his wife. Your daughter and granddaughter behave in ways you find distasteful. Are you responsible for the sins and failures of your adult… Read More

February 2020 Reading Roundup

From Japanese literature to the history of Serbia via the aftermath of war in Sierra Leone, this has been a good month’s reading for me. Here’s a roundup of the books I’ve read in February. The Sound of the Mountain by Yasunari Kawabata This was my read for this year’s Japanese Literature Challenge. I plan to write a full review… Read More

January 2020 Reading Roundup

The first month of the year took me from Greece to Serbia via Vienna (don’t ask!), and in the world of books it took me from a Cretan classic to a medieval poet, via some self-help literature, a road-trip novel, and a new theory of climate change. Here we go… Climate Leviathan: A Political Theory of Our Planetary Future by… Read More

Shulem Deen’s Powerful Memoir of Hasidic Life

All Who Go Do Not Return by Shulem Deen is a powerful account of the author’s escape from the ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect known as the Skverer Hasidim—an escape that ultimately costs him his relationship with his wife and kids. But it’s also more than that. It’s a book that raises interesting questions about belonging, identity, integrity and conformity. The tale… Read More

2019: My Year of Full-Time Travel

As regular readers may know, I’ve been travelling full-time with my wife Genie since the beginning of 2015. We don’t have a home anywhere, just a second-hand Toyota in which we travel from place to place, mostly in and around Europe. We pay the bills by doing freelance writing and editing work as we go. I’ve always meant to blog… Read More

Best Books I Read in 2019

How was your reading year? I read 58 books overall, which was not as many as I’d hoped, but still about one a week, which is OK for me. It was a busy year in many ways, and I didn’t always have much time for reading, but I still read some excellent books. Here’s a quick rundown of the best… Read More

Inside the Syrian Conflict With Jonathan Littell

Homs is one of those places that, like Aleppo and Kandahar and Mosul, has become a byword for suffering. For years it appeared on the nightly news with images of corpses, rubble, wailing widows and intrepid reporters ducking as a shell lands close by. In my childhood, Beirut and later Sarajevo were similar shorthand for misery, along with Belfast during… Read More