All Features

That Lunatic Risk

by Peter Mitchell

Daniel Ellsberg’s book, The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, is a curious book to bring out at such a time. Ellsberg is better known as the first great leaker of the secret state, a defence establishment defector who released the Pentagon Papers and found a long second life as a remarkably courageous and persistent activist against the military-industrial complex and the blind, futile violence of American foreign policy since the fifties. As he explains in The Doomsday Machine, though, he didn’t initially intend the Pentagon Papers to be his big gesture: he wanted to publish all the secrets he’d been accumulating about the US nuclear war apparatus and the grave danger he believed it posed to the world. [read full essay]

‘I can’t imagine writing without translation’: An Interview with Livia Franchini

by Thea Hawlin

Livia Franchini is a writer and translator from Tuscany, Italy. Her work has been featured or is forthcoming in The Quietus, Visual Verse, Hotel, Funhouse, the White Review, Minima&Moralia and Nuovi Argomenti among others. In 2016 she co-founded CORDA, a journal about friendship in the time of new borders. In 2017 she joined the organising board for the first edition of FILL, Festival of Italian Literature in London – where she lives and is working on her first novel as part of a PhD in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths. I spoke to her after the inaugural festival about teamwork, translation, and tearing down borders. [read full interview]

People Want to Be Heard: An Interview with Nathan Connolly, Lee Rourke and Gena-mour Barrett

by Dale Lately

'I think there’s a sort of deep trauma in society from precisely this lack of representation that we’re discussing. If you look at books being published it’s a very white middle class kind of affair, there’s no kind of even spread. This is very much what I felt when I entered publishing. In my experience there’s also an expectation from a working class writer to write a gritty realist drama and bring a certain set of psychological tropes to it. And for me that’s anathema. It doesn’t interest me. I’ve never really been interested in serving up what’s expected of me.' [read full interview]

Take Me To The River: A Journey Into Digital Fiction

by James Attlee

There is one aspect of smartphone technology we all now take for granted – your phone knows where you are. By extension, so does the creator of a piece of located fiction for that instrument, enabled therefore to release elements of narrative in particular locations or at chosen times, choosing backdrops for their storyline in the real world. However, this puts a new onus on the writer. Rather than conjuring up such settings from the imagination, they must be tested thoroughly for suitability. Are they easily accessible by public transport? Do they offer a safe space in which a participant can listen to audio or read text on a screen without getting knocked down by traffic or robbed when they take their phone from their pocket? How onerous is it, travelling from one location to the next? To drill down further into the technology, will GPS trigger effectively in the location you have ring-fenced remotely as the spot where a particular event will unfold, or will a tall building or other blind-spot get in the way? [read full essay]

A Media Of One’s Own: The Future of Criticism, in Retrospect

by Robert Barry

To speak of having a press, of having a media of one’s own, suggests infrastructure. But the question of infrastructure is curiously absent from panegyrics to the liberating force of the net. Jeff Jarvis doesn’t mention million dollar undersea cables, as thick as a Coke can and a hundred thousand miles long, coated with galvanised shielding wire. When Time nominated you person of the year, they neglected to touch upon space frame warehouses of a million square feet, stuffed to the gills with servers that eat daily the same energy as a small town. [read full essay]

Diversity, Risk-Taking and Community: A Celebration of 2017’s Small Press Anthologies

by Anna Vaught

This month, I posed a question on Twitter for the small presses of the British Isles: what prompted them to commission and curate their anthologies of various authors? This, from Salt Publishing, was a beautiful summary: ‘So many things: outreach, delighting readers, finding new readers, celebrating writers at all stages of their creative lives, curating, presenting, sharing cultural excellence, building a community, sharing a space, collisions and surprises.’ [read full essay]

Fiction Highlights: Review 31's Best Novels of 2017

by Review 31

Given the turbulent state of world politics, it is unsurprising that political themes loom large in some of 2017’s most eye-catching works of fiction: these include Tom Rachman’s ‘rapid-response’ snapshot of American decline in Basket of Deplorables, Daniel Magariel’s searing portrait of toxic masculinity in One of the Boys, and Mohsin Hamid’s timely meditation on migration, Exit West. This year’s recommendations are formally diverse, ranging from Emmanuel Carrère’s essayistic opus The Kingdom – described by Andre van Loon as 'emphatically not a novel' – and Sam Riviere’s digitally inspired fragmented narratives to more conventional, plot-driven novels and short stories. [read full essay]

An Eye is Always Watching Us

by James Draney

Unlike Riviere’s poetry collections 81 Austerities (2010), Standard Twin Fantasy (2014) and Kim Kardashian’s Marriage (2015), which tended to take a literal tone with regard to their subject matter, Safe Mode reads far more like an allegory than an assemblage. Yet Safe Mode also proves that the novel’s inability to adequately represent our atmosphere of ubiquitous media does not spell the end for the genre. Riviere’s book is a prototype for the novel of the future. If the future will have novels at all. [read full essay]

Our Reading Habits Are Changing: An Interview with Arifa Akbar

by Houman Barekat

Back in August, The Bookseller magazine reported that the publisher Unbound would be launching a new online literary journal under the stewardship of Arifa Akbar, the former literary editor of The Independent. The launch of the publication, which will be called Boundless, is now just a few weeks away. I talked to Arifa about her plans for the publication, and the burgeoning domain of online literary criticism in general. [read full interview]

Sacred and Profane: What We Talk About When We Talk About God

by Neil Griffiths

I have tended to describe my novel as theological, but I’m not sure that’s right. Works of theology presuppose God’s existence. As a God Might Be is more concerned with how we can speak about God without resorting to the language of religion. Indeed, it asks whether we can speak about God at all or does all language fail at the outset? Of course, if that’s true and language is useless, what then of religion for the religiously inclined? How might religion adapt itself to this – dare I say it – Wittgensteinian God? [read full essay]