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Intense Moments with Strangers: The Spit, the Sound and the Nest by Kathrine Sowerby. Sarah Spence reviews poet Sowerby’s debut prose collection of three novellas (Vagabond Voices, 2017).


Some thoughts on Protest. In this piece as part of our Threat Levels thread, Henry Bell offers his views on Protest: both the anthology of short stories from Comma Press (edited by Ra Page, 2017), and the thing that happens in the streets.


Lives Suspended: An Essay on Refugee Tales (2016) and Refugee Tales II (2017), edited by David Herd and Anna Pincus, both published by Comma Press. In the first piece of our Threat Levels thread engaging with contemporary politics, Tom White discusses two short story collections co-authored by refugees, and the state of detention and asylum centres in Britain today.

EIBF 2017: Travelogue with a Travelogue of Travelogues* – Outriders. Editor Rebecca DeWald attended a number of Outriders events at this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival and shares her thoughts on travelling, Borges and contemporary politics.

“The Hash Smokers are Going Out to Shoplift Scotch Eggs”: Cheryl Follon’s Santiago. A. C. Clarke reviews Cheryl Follon’s new collection Santiago (Bloodaxe Books, 2017).


EIBF 2017: A Sympathising Eye on Translation – The Man Booker International Award. As every year, editor Rebecca DeWald attended a number of translation events at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. This year, however, she noticed a shift.

JULY 2017

“Blessed is He Who Leaves”: Olga Tokarczuk’s Flights (Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2017), translated by Jennifer Croft. Marta Dziurosz muses on Tokarczuk’s collection, travelling and the transitory nature of living in translation.

“We”: Brit Bennett’s The Mothers (Riverhead, 2016). Reviewed by Rachel Sykes.

JUNE 2017

Stories from the Mind’s Eye: Camilla Grudova, The Doll’s Alphabet (Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2017).‘ Naomi Richards reviews Canadian writer Grudova’s debut short story collection full of grotesque fairy tales and gruesome feminisms.

Present Mortality: Ryan Van Winkle, The Good Dark (Penned in the Margins, 2015)‘, reviewed by Andrew Wells.

Behind the Ironic Curtain: Mikhail and Margarita by Julia Lekstrom Himes (Europa Editions, 2017). Henry King reviews Lekstrom Himes’ take on Mikhail Bulgakov and his renowned The Master and Margarita (1940).

Ocean Deep: J. O. Morgan, In Casting Off (HappenStance, 2015), reviewed by Matt Macdonald.

Sinister Street: Carolina Sanín’s The Children, translated by Nick Caistor (MacLehose, 2017). Jessica Sequeira reviews this slippery, dreamy novel and ponders if the language should maybe grittier to give the text more of an edge.

MAY 2017

‘An Obscure and Unusual Window Onto a City: Jason Donald’s Dalila’ (Jonathan Cape, 2017). Lynnda Wardle went on a dérive through the setting of Donald’s second novel about a young woman caught in the British asylum process. In the interview, Wardle and Donald walk through Glasgow neighbourhoods Govan, Ibrox and Cessnock, passed the UK Visa and Immigration offices, and explore Donald’s influences and own experience of arriving and trying to settle in Glasgow.

Pieces of a Puzzle: Tangram by Juan Carlos Márquez, translated by James Womack‘. Ellen Jones reviews one of the first translations published by new imprint Nevsky Books, dedicated to publishing new European fiction in English translation. The exciting, if not perfect, opener lets her hope for more to come from the newbie on the publishing scene.

APRIL 2017

‘A Refuge For Complexity: Alessandro Baricco’s The Young Bride (La sposa giovane), translated into English by Ann Goldstein’. Liliya Aleksandrova yet again compares two versions of an originally Italian book: Baricco’s original and Ann Goldstein’s, the translator of Elena Ferrante’s Neopalitan Quartet, English translation The Young Bride.

‘Materiality In And After Death: Bella mia by Donatella di Pietrantonio, translated by Franca Scurti Simpson’ (Calisi Press, 2016). Liliya Aleksandrova offers us the rare delight of reviewing both the Italian original and its English translation, to show the minuscule changes a text undergoes and the nuances it adapts in translation.

March 2017

‘A Troubling Transformation: A Igoni Barrett’s Blackass. Timothy Ogene compares Igoni Barrett’s novel set in Nigeria, in which protagonist undergoes a transformation from black to white man (with the exception of his arse) to Kafka’s Metamorphosis, but also to contemporary novels about race, such as George Schuyler’s Black No More.

‘Stephanie Green’s Flout and the Process of Presence’. Helen Murray reviews poems that celebrate and challenge forces of nature and the revelations made in forging a living relationship with the land.

‘To Try Or Not To Try: Lunatics, Lovers and Poets: Twelve Stories After Cervantes and Shakespeare, edited by Daniel Hahn and Margarita Valencia (And Other Stories, 2016). Edmund Chapman shows how this collection of stories by English- and Spanish-language writers (translated into English) celebrating the anniversary year of both Cervantes and Shakespeare’s death in 1616 brings translation “to the forefront, as not only the texts, but also the concepts of the author-figures themselves are reread in different contexts and languages.”

February 2017

‘The Two Anachronisms: An Ecocritical Response to A Review, by Steve Mentz. In this piece of our Ecocriticism Now thread, Steve Mentz responds to Peter Adkins’ review of Mentz’s work, ‘Anthropocene Flotsam: Steve Mentz’s Shipwreck Modernity: Ecologies of Gloablization, 1550–1719, and defines the two anachronisms, a concept developed out of his previous work.

Crude Words: Creating an Anthology of Contemporary Venezuelan Writing. Katie Brown, one of the editors of Crude Words (co-edited by Montague Kobbé, Katie Brown and Tim Girven, Ragpicker Press, 2016) writes about the process of selecting and editing a “representative” selection of literature from a country rarely translated into English. With an introduction by editor Rebecca DeWald.

‘Queen of Her Own Universe: Tracey Herd’s Not in this World’. Jacqueline Thompson reviews Herd’s continuing ‘obsessions’ “plotting a dark psychological landscape populated by doomed movie stars, broken girls and powerful racehorses, filled with images of blood, snow and wreckages”.

‘Sexy, Existential, Cool: April Ayers Lawson’s Virgin and Other Stories (Granta Books, 2017).’ Laura Waddell reviews Lawson’s debut short story collection which “flexes a visceral grace”, ‘like a sinewy muscle”.

‘From the “Fictive Nation” to the “City In Short Fiction”: Reading The Book of Tokyo After Barthes. Calum Rodger draws parallels between the short story collection in Comma Press’ city series (The Book of Tokyo: A City in Short Fiction, edited by Michael Emmerich, Jim Hinks, and Masashi Matsuie, 2015), and French philosopher and critic Roland Barthes’ 1970s meditation L’Empire des signes.

January 2017

‘Juan Pablo Villalobos’ Tragic Surrealism: I’ll Sell You A Dog, translated by Rosalind Harvey. Ailsa Peate reads Villalobos in the context of the recent Trump election and events in Mexico, marking his happy, light-hearted approach to tragedies, his “tragic surrealism”, and focusing on Harvey’s translations as Villalobos’ voice in English.

‘Fragmented Identities: Mikhail Lermontov’s A Hero Of Our Time, translated by Elizabeth Cheresh Allen.’ Alex Fleming reviews a new translation of a forgotten Russian classic with a modern heart, published by Northwestern University Press, 1840/2016.

‘Brecht and Mam: Anakana Schofield’s Martin John.’ Xenobe Purvis reviews this controversial novel (And Other Stories, 2016) about the molesting protagonist of the novel’s title and considers the theme as a trope with a long-standing tradition in literature.

‘Behind The Pastoral: Cynan Jones’ Cove.’ Peter Adkins reads Jones’ latest novel/la in light of ecocritical debates, as part of our Ecocriticism Now thread.