Just a Devil: Kristeva on Dosto

Michael Wood, 3 December 2020

The riddle of who is made in the image of whom – humans in that of God or the Devil, God or the Devil in that of humans – becomes an extravagant joke about figuration, about any attempt to...

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Echo is a fangirl

Ange Mlinko, 3 December 2020

Denise Riley argues with her identities and ‘identity’ in general: she is unhappy with them, casts them off only to find them stuck on again in the morning. She is also our pre-eminent dialectician...

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Coughing Out Slogans: DeLillo tunes out

Andrew O’Hagan, 3 December 2020

His great instinct, all along, has been to give shape to dread­ful events before they happen, before the people who might carry them out are even born, and to seem to know their source in our public...

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How do you write against your audience, an audience that celebrates your work but interprets it narrowly? The title on the cover, Homie, is for this audience; for Danez Smith’s publishers; and for...

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Always Smiling: ‘Real Life’

Paul Mendez, 19 November 2020

Real Life bristles with everyday micro-aggressions, all the myriad, annihilating ways blackness is weaponised. It’s a campus novel, but anyone familiar with 19th-century slave narratives will hear...

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Staying Alive: ‘The New Wilderness’

Rosa Lyster, 5 November 2020

Most climate dystopias are set in this temporal and spatial landscape: well into the obliterated future. The terrible thing has happened, and the details of how we got there are unimport­ant, as are...

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Eat butterflies with me?

Patricia Lockwood, 5 November 2020

Nabokov and I are hardly a match made in heaven – I’m stumped by the most elementary brain­teasers, every chess game I’ve ever played has lasted at least two hours and no one has...

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‘Since this trouble with my back, I’ve read all the detective stories there ever were, I should think,’ a character says in Agatha Christie’s Peril at End House....

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Slavery and Revenge

John Kerrigan, 22 October 2020

The earliest texts that look extensively at the slave trade are structured by the motifs and conventions of revenge tragedy: resentment, conspiracy, delay, the grand soliloquy and, above all, tortured...

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Each of us is a snowball: Squares are best

Susannah Clapp, 22 October 2020

Ideal for snoopers, snip­ers, novelists, cartoonists and daydreamers, squares offer the chance of peering out in several directions without someone across from you peering back. They mix urbanity and...

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Jack is a love story; it contains miracles. It is also the most theological of Robinson’s novels, bound by religious paradox and poetic impossibility. Robinson is interested in love, not as desire...

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Thom Gunn in New York

Michael Nott, 22 October 2020

Of all the ‘different varieties of New Jerusalem ... I’d only return to one,’ Gunn wrote, ‘For the sexual New Jerusalem was by far the greatest fun.’ ‘He was very interested...

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Strut like Mutya: Paul Mendez

Nicole Flattery, 22 October 2020

Rainbow Milk is a candid, sometimes un­even novel. But at moments it’s electrifying – an algorithmic pop ballad that suddenly transcends itself and sounds different, more affecting, like...

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Ah, how miserable! Three New Oresteias

Emily Wilson, 8 October 2020

Misogynist tropes often involve present­ing women as interesting in precisely the ways that Aeschylus’ female characters are interesting: charming, articulate, danger­ous, deceitful, too...

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Reading the novel is a bit like watching the type of movie – The Revenant or 1917 – where a man is chased by a bear only to fall off a cliff into the rapids, or a plane is shot out of the sky...

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Brexit, Covid-19, climate change and the refugee crisis shift in and out of focus, but it’s in the ordinary scenes of everyday frustration that the novels seem most ‘of our time’. But...

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Amis takes an unpretentious, anxious interest in holding the reader’s attention, and from time to time he can still get out from behind the rhetorical afflatus and come at you with sheer voice. His...

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Jansson had many euphemisms for lesbianism: ‘rive gauche’, as if all Parisian women were at it; ‘borderliner’; a ‘new line’, ‘tendency’, ‘attitude’....

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