All Interviews

INTERVIEW 'Please Just Let Something Happen': An Interview with Rebecca Watson

by Elsa Court

Rebecca Watson joined the ranks of promising young talents to have been showcased in the White Review Short Story Prize when she was shortlisted for the award in 2018, and has gone on to publish a remarkable debut. Published earlier this year, little scratch is a crisp, incisive and formally original novel about a day in the life of a young woman working in a newspaper office in London. She and I shared a windy outdoor coffee in East London, where she lives. We discussed Rebecca’s early influences, her second novel in the works, and how working from home also transforms the writer’s routine. [read full interview]

INTERVIEW My Camera is My Notebook: An Interview with Harriet Mercer

by Jess Payn

Mercer's book, Gargoyles, is a memoir of the nightmarish side of sudden, life-threatening illness. Describing her convalescence at Charing Cross Hospital, Mercer follows ‘the thing that slips and slides through the fingers of your mind when you try to pin it down with words.’ Straying to the dark, wounded places of her life, the book is a tale of loss, change and endurance, but joy, too. Mercer celebrates the kindness of family, friends and strangers, and the beauty of the surrounding green-hued world. [read full interview]

INTERVIEW Millennial Intellectual: An Interview with James Marriott

by Nicholas Harris

At just 28 years old, James Marriott has already established himself as essential reviewer and columnist. Deputy literary editor at The Times for three and a half years now, he has risen to prominence for the intelligence of his criticism and his emotional candour about millennial life. I spoke to him about contemporary fiction, his preference for sincerity in literature and what it’s like to write for a Boomer audience as ‘The Times’s Favourite Millennial’. [read full interview]

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]

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]

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]

INTERVIEW 'I Think of Metaphor as a Gesture of Empathy': An Interview with Terrance Hayes

by Stephanie Sy-Quia

Terrance Hayes likes to describe his background as ‘very American’. His mother, who works as a prison guard, had him when she was 16. He grew up in South Carolina, before attending Coker College on a basketball scholarship. It was there that he started writing poems. In 2014 he was awarded a McArthur Fellowship and in 2018 he was shortlisted for the TS Eliot prize. I was able to meet Hayes when he was promoting his book American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin, a keenly insistent sequence penned in the news-scream fever-dream which followed the 2016 American election. We chatted in the corridor of his hotel, while he ate a croissant. In this book’s examination of America and its many assassins, Hayes’s modus operandi is to be unrelenting in his ‘posing of poets’ questions to history’; we discuss some of them here. [read full interview]

INTERVIEW A Deep Cultural Connection: An Interview with Minoo Dinshaw

by Imogen Woodberry

Told with light-hearted élan yet contained in a magisterial mould, Minoo Dinshaw’s Outlandish Knight charts the life of Steven Runciman (1903 - 2000), a figure who was both a chronicler of the past – as a renowned historian of the Byzantine Empire – and a witness to the age in which he lived. A schoolfriend of George Orwell and an early love interest of Cecil Beaton, he partied with the Bloomsbury set as well as with royalty. To read this biography is not simply to learn about Runciman’s life but to step back into it: through the dashing, ludic style which saw him shortlisted for The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, Dinshaw expertly captures the essence of his subject. In a coffee shop in Hammersmith we chatted about Runciman and also discussed Dinshaw’s next project, a book about the interlocking lives of two political moderates during the English Civil War. [read full interview]

INTERVIEW 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]

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]