Posts tagged literary fiction

German Literature Month: The Weight of Things by Marianne Fritz

German Literature Month happens every November, and usually I remember about it some time in December. This year, though, I’m taking part for the second year in a row! After my review of Austerlitz last year, here are my thoughts on The Weight of Things by Austrian writer Marianne Fritz. There are some pretty horrible characters in The Weight of Things, from the overbearing Wilhelmina to the spineless Wilhelm. Even Rudolf, a man who appears only for a few pages before being decapitated, manages to come across as quite arrogant and unlikeable…. Read More

Stories of Racism and Retail Hell: Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Race and capitalism in America should be fertile ground for literary fiction. This year’s Black Friday shopping frenzy brought the usual bout of stabbings and shootings to add to the overall death count, not to mention the looming environmental collapse that such consumerism feeds. And the list of things you can’t do while black without having the police called or a gun pulled on you seems to expand by the day, from working out to moving into an apartment to buying Mentos. Yet Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah startled me by the… Read More

Literature and Empathy

As a (very) part-time journalist, I get inundated with press releases, most of which I delete. But one email subject line today caught my eye: “Step into the shoes of a migrant in the UK with groundbreaking audio experience.” In the current political climate, I think that stepping into others’ shoes—especially those of migrants—is about the most important thing we could be doing. One of the things I’ve learnt from travelling around Europe these last four years is that hate and fear come from distance. You can’t demonise someone when… Read More

November Reading Roundup

After a busy few months of travel, we slowed down a bit in November and spent more time just staying in comfortable rural hotels in Bulgaria and northern Greece. That meant more time for work and writing, but also for reading, so I had a good reading month overall. Here’s how it went… Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald I started off the month with an excellent read for German Literature Month. I found a beautiful meditation on memory and loss, as we follow Jacques Austerlitz piecing together the fragments of his… Read More

German Literature Month: Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald

November is German Literature Month, hosted by Lizzy and Caroline! If you’re not familiar with it, it’s an annual celebration of literature in the German language. There’s a schedule of readalongs, but I’m too disorganised for that, so I’m going for the “read what you want, as long as it was originally written in German” category. And what better book to choose than Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald, a novel that I have been meaning to read for so many years that I’d almost given up hope of unearthing it from… Read More

Review of Dodge and Burn by Seraphina Madsen

Imagine Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs and Hunter Thompson engaging in a wild, drug-fuelled orgy somewhere out in the Arizona desert, and by some mystical process conceiving a daughter who then turns around and gives them the finger, inverting their male-dominated world and creating a road trip novel for the 21st century, complete with a strong female lead who might have made a great companion for Sal and Dean if they hadn’t been so busy gunning for girls and turning their patronizing male gazes on beautiful honey-haired darlings. Actually, don’t imagine… Read More

Q&A with the founders of new indie publisher Dodo Ink

Dodo Ink is a new independent publisher in the UK, promising to publish “bold, daring, risky but accessible literary novels”. They’re currently running a crowdfunding campaign to fund their first three novels, with incentives ranging from free books to getting your own dedication page. One of the founders, Sam Mills, is a writer (I reviewed her 2012 novel The Quiddity of Will Self on this blog), and another, Thom Cuell, is a book blogger/reviewer (of Workshy Fop fame). I interviewed the two of them recently to find out more about how… Read More

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 on the creation of new possibilities, rather than the actual execution of those ideas. In the Wolf’s Mouth is in some ways a potential novel. It sets up a scenario involving multiple characters and storylines,… Read More

Tyranny and liberation: Birgit Vanderbeke’s The Mussel Feast

There’s a reason why oppressive societies have images of their leader on every wall and statues in every town square. For the tyrant to maintain power, he must be everywhere, or at least give that appearance. In this gripping portrait of a dysfunctional family, it’s only when the father returns home late from work one night that his absolute rule over his wife and children begins to slip. Freed of the need to perform and appease, the three of them begin to make startling admissions: the children both fantasise about… Read More