All Interviews

Anarchic Undersongs: Twin Interviews with Sarah Howe and Layli Long Soldier

by Stephanie Sy-Quia

This is the first in a new series of interviews by Review 31: we will be placing interviews with two authors side by side, allowing the correspondences in their work to come to the fore. For the first instalment, we have a twin interview with poets Sarah Howe and Layli Long Soldier. Sarah Howe is a British-Hong Kong Chinese poet who lectures in poetry at King’s College London, and whose collection Loop of Jade won the 2015 TS Eliot Prize. Layli Long Soldier is an Oglala Lakota poet from Dakota who teaches at Diné College in the Navajo Nation. Her collection Whereas is a response to the 2009 Congressional Resolution of Apology to Native Americans, which was not read aloud or delivered with any tribal leaders present. It won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2017. We’ve chosen to place these women’s work in dialogue because of their use of found poetry derived from legal texts, their differing subversions of imperial epistemologies, and their writing of the Umbrella Movement and Standing Rock protests, respectively, from afar. Here, Review 31 examines the modes these two remarkable women have employed to confront the utterances of oppressive states. [read full interview]

‘These Stories are Coming from a Place of Anger’: An Interview with Sophie Mackintosh

by Stephanie Sy-Quia

Sophie Mackintosh’s debut The Water Cure, longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, has been hailed as being at the vanguard of a resurgence in feminist dystopias. Indeed, our pop culture climate has witnessed the adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale or Christina Dalcher’s novel Vox, but to lump Mackintosh in with them is to do the novel a disservice. The Water Cure moves with a lyricism that makes it read like an arthouse film: all sun-flared introspection and melancholia. The novel is is told through the alternating voices of three sisters, who have lived their lives in seclusion with their mother and father, quarantined from an outside world made toxic and threatening by patriarchy. [read full interview]

‘The shimmering light of everything that surrounds us’: An interview with Samanta Schweblin

by Guadalupe Gerardi

Argentine writer Samanta Schweblin’s fascinating novel Fever Dream was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize in 2017; her new book, Mouthful of Birds, is due for publication in English translation next year. I talked to Schweblin about her writing process, the ways in which her work opens up dialogues between different literary traditions, and the vexed question of what is gained and lost in translation. [read full interview]

Untroubled Times: David Stubbs in conversation with James Cook

by James Cook

I talked to journalist and author David Stubbs about his recent book, 1996 & the End of History, an examination of the year as it unfolded in the UK in politics, music, light entertainment and sport. We also discuss Memory Songs, my alternative history of the Brit-Pop moment, told through analysis of the music that informed the era, and recollections of my time as a songwriter during the 1990s. [read full interview]

‘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]

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]

Hesitations and Corrections: An Interview with Garth Greenwell

by James Pulford

When it was published last year, Garth Greenwell’s debut novel What Belongs To You was heralded as a masterpiece and an instant classic on both sides of the Atlantic. Deftly depicting the stickiness of shame, desire and guilt, the novel tells the story of a young American teacher who falls for a Bulgarian hustler while living in Sofia and, subsequently, his struggle to reconcile the mixture of longing and anguish he feels as a result of their relationship. In addition to recently winning Debut Book of the Year at the British Book Awards, What Belongs To You has also been shortlisted for both the James Tait Black Prize for Fiction and the Green Carnation Prize. In this interview we talked about the role of fiction today; alt-facts and the Trump administration; the policing of LGBT lives; and the notion of literature as a conversation across time. [read full interview]

No One Gets Out Alive: An Interview with Joanna Walsh

by Thea Hawlin

Dubbed by Deborah Levy as ‘fast becoming one of our most important writers,’ Joanna Walsh is the award-winning author of Hotel (Bloomsbury, 2015) and Vertigo (And Other Stories, 2016). I spoke with her on the launch day of her debut digital book, Seed, a novella that blooms, wilts, and grows as you read it. [read full interview]

‘How to Endure’: An Interview with Simon Critchley

by Marc Farrant

In an increasingly violent world, Simon Critchley’s study of suicide underlines the difficulty of attempting to inhabit the mental space of those who choose to take their own lives, where ‘reason runs headlong into one last, long tunnel with no exit.’ To confront head-on this perverse rationality, ‘to meet darkness in the darkness,’ in the winter of 2014 Critchley took up residence in a hotel room with a sea-view in Aldeburgh, on the North Sea coast of Suffolk, England, and wrote. The resulting book, Notes on Suicide, is both an exercise in philosophical exposition and a movingly intimate engagement with an intractably personal issue. In this interview we discussed a range of issues related to suicide, including the religious and psychiatric discourses around it and its consequent framing in our moral imagination. [read full interview]