The poems in Fiona Benson’s Bioluminescent Baby detail the short, intense lives of insects. They were originally commissioned by University of Exeter’s ‘Project Urgency’ as a commentary on the looming biodiversity disaster, yet these various crawly creatures compel us even further through Benson’s careful and evocative words.
Weather, the third novel from Jenny Offill, reveals a juxtaposition of modern anxieties: marriage and motherhood demand microscopic introspection at one end of the scale, while the amorphous threat of indistinct global destruction looms large at the other.
Citadel is Martha Sprackland’s first full collection, following two previous pamphlets (Glass as Broken Glass in 2017 and Milk Tooth in 2018) and a raft of poetry editing credentials. The slim volume carries fifty poems and has a density to the reading. This stems from the complex premise packed into the work: a historical reimagining Read More
When someone loves only one piece of literature throughout their lifetime, should that devotion be admired or pitied? Acclaimed Irish writer Mary Costello’s second novel, The River Capture, offers a deeply philosophical contemplation of humanity rendered through the mind of a James Joyce obsessive. It is also an ambitious act of dedication to Joyce’s Ulysses, Read More
I first encountered the pejorative term ‘Mary Sue’ in a critical review of Samantha Shannon’s Bone Season and can still recall my bemusement; Shannon had secured an impressive seven-book deal with Bloomsbury yet stood accused of creating merely an idealised projection of herself. It is this gendered injustice which Sophie Collins now examines in her Read More
Amy Arnold’s novel Slip of a Fish is an exuberant exploration into whether language can be trusted to convey meaning; the protagonist, Ash, collects words as a way of coping with the confusion they cause her, whilst Arnold’s own inventive literary styling gradually exposes this complex inner mind to readers. Abbott says there’s no need, Read More
Capturing the experiences of womanhood with currency for our time may require an acknowledgement of contrast, notably between the furiously public domain of the #metoo campaign and its associated high-profile sexual assault cases, and the hidden realities of motherhood and female domesticity. Fiona Benson’s second collection of poetry, Vertigo & Ghost, delivers a duality that Read More
In her second novel, Sally Rooney delivers a compelling love story set in the West of Ireland and grounded in the political realities of recent times. Normal People was hotly anticipated, well received, and continues to see Rooney lauded as a generational writer. Nevertheless, the passivity with which the millennial label is applied within critical Read More
Ariana Harwicz is an Argentinian playwright and novelist for whom Die, My Love was originally published in 2012 as the first of a trilogy, now translated into English and long-listed for the 2018 Man Booker International. The translators are Sarah Moses and the Scottish-based Carolina Orloff, who co-founded Charco Press through which Die, My Love Read More
Mary Leader, an American lawyer-turned-poet, has found a home with the British-based Publisher Shearsman Books. She Lives There Still is her second title to be published with them, and they are due to re-issue her two earlier works that are currently out-of-print. A fifth collection has already been completed. Perhaps this match should hold no Read More