England’s Green is Zaffar Kunial’s second poetry collection. Everything about England in our cultural subconscious is intimated beautifully in these two words; the reader knows intuitively that within these pages there will be a world of exploration on that theme. Kunial’s previous collection, ‘Us’, was shortlisted for many poetry prizes, and was highly praised for its ‘ability to find meaning and symbolism in the hearth and home’. This collection undoubtedly sustains that investigation into the meaning of ‘home’.
Carys Davies is a novelist and writer of short stories with an impressive array of accolades. I approached her latest novel The Mission House with curiosity and found myself completely immersed in the wistful, gently paced narrative. That is not to say that the novel is lacking; Davies weaves the plot in a temporal structure that comfortably outpaces the reader, and while the lyricism and imagery in the tightly pruned chapters project a magical aura of India, the allegory is a backdrop of post-colonialism and modern political rumblings which hang in the air like humidity; not quite visible yet distinctly discomforting.
Writing that is enquiring, taking very little for granted, and making space for readers is always a joy to behold. All the Names Given has these virtues in spades, posing some searing questions not only about the nature of ancestry, family, identity, colonial legacies, racism, how and where we fit within a larger social world, but what these mean for the living?