All Features

ESSAY The Lives of Others

by Charles Fernyhough

Writers have a duty to ask what is involved in letting a reader inhabit a different worldview. How, when and under what conditions can – and should – writers try to master a perspective that is different from their own? Every author will answer this differently, and all writers will have to work out for themselves which doors might swing open and what lines must never be crossed. But each one I have spoken to has defended it as a right that can, with the appropriate knowledge and sensitivity, be earned. The best literature celebrates this magic trick, but also feels for its boundaries. Dare to imagine, it tells us, but do it with respect, and do it well. [read full essay]

ESSAY Remembering the War Dead

by James Heartfield

The case against war had been strongly put. The best argument against the war was the cost in lives. What the official commemoration of the dead did was to take all the grief that might have counted against the war-mongers and turn it instead into part of the case for war. The dead were now called the ‘fallen’ (though most had been struck down). The killing was sanctified as a ‘sacrifice’ — the ‘Greatest Sacrifice’. [read full essay]

ESSAY (The Refusal) To Work Forever

by Elliot C. Mason

Subjectivity, in this capitalist work ideology, is based on representing a universal form – based on being a site of accumulation, a place of value-production. Poetry resists this spatialising movement. So while every moment of constant work is another restriction on the feminised and racialised body – in different ways, but both with the result of rejection to the periphery – these poets that place resistance to work in the striking snap of slowness, the antithesis of productive capital, can withdraw a subversive way of being from beneath the sweaty bodies constantly performing for the totality of labour. [read full essay]

INTERVIEW 'The Oppressive Weight of the British novel': An Interview with Yara Rodrigues-Fowler

by Stephanie Sy-Quia

'It’s not just about making people relive shit when they read; it’s also about showing on the page that these events and these violences don’t come out of nowhere, and they have far-reaching consequences. I wanted to put all of that experience on the page. I wanted that to be what people are reading: all the silliness and the complexity and the childishness of the protagonist as she heals, when she’s trying to be in her body again, and be sexual again, and the pain of it. I wanted to talk about all of the things that aren’t just the original violent incidents themselves.' [read full interview]

ESSAY Letter from a Nation of Freemen

by Ed Simon

You can be killed in a school, a movie theatre, a shopping mall, a bar, a concert, a church, a synagogue, a mosque, a goddamn garlic festival. Because this is what it’s like living in America as the second decade of the new millennium draws to a close. If there are still Americans in the future on the other side of that divide, in a hopefully fairer, saner, better nation, please read this as a missive from foreign country. This is a civilian letter in this grim war, and what I’d tell all of you fortunate enough not to wake up everyday with push notification of a mass shooting in your neighbourhood is that in the United States we’re scared and scarred, jarred, anxious, frightened, and most of all exhausted. [read full essay]

ESSAY At The Right Distance

by Leon Craig

‘Loss, I thought, did not have to be a void of grief and pain, it could also be an encounter’ realises Echo, the protagonist of Saskia Vogel’s debut novel Permission, as she is comforted by her dominatrix lover. While staying with her parents in a coastal town outside Los Angeles, she goes climbing with her father in a nearby cove and he suddenly disappears into the waves. As harbour patrol and the rescue divers slowly abandon the search, she remains trapped in her parents’ house, isolated from her mother by their shared sorrow and desperate for distraction. Driving around the cliffs looking for somewhere to be alone, she is forced into continually re-encountering her lost adolescence. [read full essay]

INTERVIEW ‘I Love to Talk About Minutiae’: An Interview with Julia Armfield

by Louis Harnett O’Meara

At 28, Julia Armfield is being hailed by many as one of the UK’s pre-eminent new literary voices. Longlisted for the Deborah Rogers literary award in 2018 and presented with the White Review short story prize soon after, her tales are both macabre and humane. Balancing a tone of cool detachment and gentle empathy, Armfield lays out an aesthetics inherited from the likes of Angela Carters 1970s fairytales, Kafka’s Metamorphosis and the annals of the horror genre; and while her tales demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of the genre’s tropes and motifs, these elements are imbued with an empathic literary sensibility that pushes the potential of the form forward. The fantastic – sleepless phantoms, golems and werewolves – is used as a means of examining the complexities of the modern female’s relationships with others and the corporal. [read full interview]

ESSAY A Party in Four Parts

by Minoo Dinshaw

David Cameron had inherited a party split by Europe; he did not know or care much about the older, underlying tension and started a bar-fight that ripped right across it. He ended up leaving behind him a party in at least four parts: Whig Remainers, grey-faced Establishment spectres (they produced Theresa May and are now led by Jeremy Hunt); idealistic, sometimes confusing Tory Remainers, of whom Rory Stewart is the most persuasive example; Whig Brexiteers, blithely ahistorical venture capitalists; and Tory Brexiteers, atavistic and excitable backwoodsmen. [read full essay]

INTERVIEW 'Cliché Gives People Something to Hang On To': An Interview with Lindsey Hilsum

by Stephanie Sy-Quia

What I think at the moment is that the journalists who are having an impact and who are most in danger at the moment are investigative journalists who are looking at the network of corrupt politicians and organised crime. This is where we see three journalists killed in the European Union in the last year. That is the place to look at at the moment for the impact of journalists because they can bring down politicians, as they should be able to, by examining corruption. Exposing corruption is one of the most basic and most important functions of journalism, and I think it has much more potential for doing that than bringing peace. Bringing peace is a very vague concept. Information is very important in that, but journalists bringing peace? I think that’s nonsense. [read full interview]

ESSAY Governments Get the People they Deserve: Anger, Class Snobbery and the Gilets Jaunes

by Laurane Marchive

When Notre-Dame started burning, I knew about it within four minutes. But when the Yellow Vest riots started, I wasn’t aware of it for ten days. As videos of the protests eventually emerged on my Facebook news feed, I was confused: I assumed they were old clips or even fakes. None of my Parisian friends had mentioned the situation, so how could it really be happening in their neighbourhoods? Upon discussing it with other London French expats, they turned out to share my confusion: they had no idea anything amiss had been going on, as no one in their networks had brought it up either. There were riots in the streets of Paris, and Parisians didn’t seem to care. [read full essay]