All Reviews

Breaking Bread With the Dead

Laura Freeman, The Reading Cure: How Books Restored My Appetite

reviewed by Stephanie Sy-Quia

There is a variety of ways in which I, a woman, could begin a review of a book about another woman relaying her experience of living with anorexia. I could steep my response in the personal, discussing my own relationship with food; or relaying the experience of watching a schoolmate slowly starving herself over the course of our teens (not quite to death, but to infertility, which is after all, wouldn’t you agree, the same thing). I could dangle details of her condition before you: how her... [read more]

Performing Passion

Lena Andersson, trans. Saskia Vogel, Acts of Infidelity

reviewed by Thea Hawlin

‘There are neither words nor syntax for falling in love,’ Lena Andersson observes, ‘however many attempts have been made to parade it through the alphabet.’ Acts of Infidelity might be said to be such a parade. In her long-anticipated sequel to Wilful Disregard (2013), Andersson gives us a book about the dangers of loving the attached. An act between two people in an affair is always more than the sum of its apparent parts, every smile, every kiss, every action forever accompanied by a... [read more]
 

Sixty Billion Chickens a Year

Raj Patel & Jason W. Moore, A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things: A Guide to Capitalism, Nature, and the Future of the Planet

reviewed by Peter Mitchell

I recently re-read Moby-Dick, because I know how to have fun, and found myself coming down a with a moderate case of metaphor envy. How convenient for Melville, I thought, that he just so happened to have been hunting the the perfect vehicle for his grand mad investigation into capitalism, murder and the cosmos. And how convenient that both that vehicle and the means of hunting it – an enormous floating cow full of magical oils that wrestles giant squid to the death in the most crushing and... [read more]

Anyways Elastic

Eyal Weizman, Forensic Architecture: Violence at the Threshold of Detectability

reviewed by Bernard Hay

How can you find the truth from pixellated imagery, memories erased by trauma, and stories suppressed by state censorship? Founded in 2010 and nominated for this year’s Turner Prize, the architectural detective Forensic Architecture has become a leading voice in socially engaged spatial culture. Over the past eight years it has developed a practice gathering, analysing and presenting architectural evidence in their search for truth against state-sanctioned injustice. In Forensic... [read more]
 

Between the lines

Sally Rooney, Normal People

reviewed by Rebecca Watson

Near the end of Sally Rooney’s second novel, Normal People, Marianne says to Connell, her on-and-off boyfriend: ‘I don’t find it obvious what you want.’ Said in a tiny voice, this moment – Marianne declaring that she does not intuit what Connell assumes her to – is a turning point. Much of Normal People exists in the unsaid, narratives carved by Marianne and Connell of how the other is feeling and thinking; of how they might act or respond. Assumptions influence their decisions,... [read more]

A Time of Huge Belief

Nell Dunn, Talking to Women

reviewed by Bárbara Borges de Campos

First published in 1965, Nell Dunn’s Talking to Women is a collection of interviews portraying the reality of being a woman in the 1960s. This new edition edition features a mesmerising introduction written by Ali Smith that contextualises the interviews, the time and the work within Dunn’s oeuvre. Talking to Women is, as Ali Smith remarks, about the ‘radical necessity of giving and having voice.’ Nell Dunn created a space that enabled eight different women to speak. Some of them... [read more]
 

What is the point of death?

Costica Bradatan, Dying for Ideas: The Dangerous Lives of the Philosophers

reviewed by Stuart Walton

To pose the question, 'What is the point of death?', has become inseparable from nightmare visions of a world that nobody would be allowed to escape. While research continues in both scientific and metaphysical sectors into the possibility of extending life indefinitely, the socialised life that one would be extending goes on deteriorating in itself into something unliveable, in which the unifying aspect once looked for in communism has finally arrived in the form of environmental degradation... [read more]

Fish Scales

Zoe Gilbert, Folk

reviewed by Jessica Sequeira

Against the recent tide of first-person narrators with a direct voice and contemporary worries comes a book interested in traditional folk stories, narrated in thick, unhurried prose. Zoe Gilbert’s Folk is a set of interlocking short stories (which the publisher prefers to call a novel) based in a single location, ‘Neverness.’ This place is perhaps inspired by Inverness and the Isle of Man, somewhere northern at any rate, but it is an invention. So thoroughly has Gilbert created her... [read more]
 

Mothers, Alligators and Bad Men

Lauren Groff, Florida

reviewed by Hannah Williams

Motherhood is an act that must always be discussed, must always be weighed and measured and judged, in a way that fatherhood has never been. When we talk of motherhood, we talk of breaking a part of yourself. We talk of vomiting, sickness, even death. We talk about flipping cars, of fighting bears, of improved smell and hearing and sight. One of the most talked-about recent books on the subject has been Sheila Heti’s Motherhood, a meditation on how to make a decision where there is no answer.... [read more]

‘Whoever believes it, feels it’

Sharlene Teo, Ponti

reviewed by Leon Craig

‘Today marks my sixteenth year on this hot, horrible earth. I am stuck in school, standing with my palms pressed against a green wall. I am pressing so hard that my fingers ache. I am tethered to this wall my own shame.’ Sharlene Teo’s Ponti has one of the best opening chapters I have read in a contemporary novel in a long time. Szu’s voice is immediately audible, her concerns intelligible, her physical presence palpable. Szu is eccentric, clever and irreverent. She is miserable at... [read more]