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Digging for gold

The shortlist for the Goldsmith’s Prize – inaugurated last year specifically for ‘fiction at its most novel’ – has just been announced: Outline by Rachel Cusk (Faber & Faber) The Absent Therapist by Will Eaves (CB Editions) J by Howard Jacobson (Jonathan Cape) The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth (Unbound) In The Light Of What We [...]

Flesh and Bones

“Kevern, look. I don’t know when your mother did these, but they are of another time. Art has changed. We have returned to the primordial celebration of the loveliness of the natural world. You  can see there is none of that in what your mother did. See how fractured her images are. There is no [...]

Who’s Bookered?

The 2014 Man Booker shortlist has just been announced: To Rise Again at a Decent Hour – Joshua Ferris The Narrow Road to the Deep North – Richard Flanagan We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler J – Howard Jacobson The Lives of Others – Neel Mukherjee How to Be Both – [...]

On reflection

Writer and arts project manager Irenosen Okojie had this to say in today’s Observer about the Booker Prize longlist: “If the panel was more diverse, then perhaps the list would be more inclusive. Here’s a radical idea – next time, perhaps the panel could be made up of an equal number of men and women [...]

Booker’s Dozen

The longlist for the 2014 Man Booker Prize was announced yesterday: To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, Joshua Ferris (Viking) The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard Flanagan (Chatto & Windus) We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler (Serpent’s Tail) The Blazing World, Siri Hustvedt (Sceptre) J, Howard Jacobson (Jonathan Cape) The [...]

Women in SF #4

Shadowboxer, by Tricia Sullivan I love hearing about other people’s trades. We were in a cabinet maker’s workshop yesterday, hearing a young craftsman tell us about how his father, a former train mechanic, turned to working with wood when he was made redundant from the railways. I still remember an evening spent in a car [...]

Back in the Lot

While boxing up books this week, I’ve had Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot on audiobook to keep me company. I think I’m right in saying that SL is actually the first of King’s novels I ever had contact with – not through the text, but through Tobe Hooper’s 1979 TV adaptation, starring David Soul and James [...]

Various updates

So – in just a couple of weeks we’ll be moving house. We began this process back in February, and it’s been the predictable combination of acute stress and not much happening for ages, but finally we’re set to go and about to begin packing our books into boxes. We’re both tremendously excited. It’s a [...]

The devil you know all too well

It would seem contrary and perhaps churlish to abandon a 600-page novel a mere 120 pages before the end. Yet this is precisely what I almost did with Marisha Pessl’s second novel, a voluminous horror epic entitled Night Film. I did soldier on to the end – more for reasons of fairness than out of [...]

Judgement day

While I’m writing this, the Clarke Award judges and their chairman are in a meeting, making their final decisions (and, we would hope for nothing less, having their final arguments) about which six novels should make up this year’s Clarke Award shortlist. With the announcement of that shortlist just four days away, I thought it [...]