In the Great Wide Out There

 On the eve of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial speech to America’s congress, I attended a dinner for the Israeli writer Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, whose excellent debut novel, One Night, Markovitch, has just been published. I was looking forward to meeting Ayelet because I love her book – she writes with lightness of sad and…

Going to Work on the Page

With politicians attacking each other every day – about tax, healthcare, pink vans – the general election campaign is intensifying. Expecting MPs to illuminate matters of relevance would be like consulting the best-sellers’ lists to get an idea of where contemporary fiction is at. However, I remain fascinated by elections and that’s connected to two…

Stirring Memories

It would have been brilliant, not least because it would have proved that money doesn’t conquer all. If Liverpool had won their first league title for twenty-four years, in the Spring of the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, in the month David Peace’s Red or Dead appears in paperback, it would have reminded us…

The Ocean Between Us and It

A. S. Byatt was coming out of the Folio Prize ceremony and I was going in. Was I imagining it or did the author of Possession look perturbed? Was she leaving in disgust? I’d missed the announcement of the winner because I was busy knotting my tie. Now I noticed that very few people were…

Making It Look Easy

‘Lydia Davis,’ Ricky Moody says, ‘does the hardest thing: she makes it look easy.’ You could say the same about Lorrie Moore whose first book, Self Help, appeared in the mid-1980s and, along with Davis’s Break It Down, refreshed American short fiction in a style that was funny, philosophical and female. Moore, however, said something…

MA vs NW1

The American magazine N+1 has published excellent journalism, memoir and criticism over the last decade. A politically-energised community, real and online, has grown as the Brooklyn-based editors have lead the way in engaging with the practical, intellectual and existential questions that face emerging writers in tough times. It’s exciting then that this month Faber &…

Another Great Year for Books

This is going to be a great year for books. While 2013 was a great year for books, 2014 will be greater. Or so people keep saying. Is every year a great year for books? It’s hard to pinpoint a bad year but how do we know this year will be great? Plenty of excellent…