At seven p.m. on Friday August 9th, I died. And then I went to Hell with Christopher Eccleston (who you might remember used to be Doctor Who) and fellow GHB-er, Tamsyn Murray. Hell, I discovered, is very dark and shaky, and it tastes of lemon sherbert sweets. It’s hot too, but you knew that already.
I promise you that I’m not hallucinating. This is all true. Tamsyn and I were very privileged to be among a select group of writers and publishers invited to a private theatrical event at the Roundhouse in Camden Town. It was shrouded in secrecy, so we had no idea what to expect until we got there. All we knew was that it had something to do with books and that it was going to be dark and claustrophic…
There were five people in my group, including the author Sarah Waters (who wrote the Victorian novel…
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Stoner: A Novel by John Williams
Vintage Classics: paperback published 2012: 278 pages
William Stoner enters the University of Missouri at nineteen to study agriculture. Later, he becomes a teacher. He marries the wrong woman. his life is quiet, and after his death his colleagues remember him rarely.
Yet with truthfulness, compassion and intense power, this novel uncovers a story of universal value. Stoner tells of the conflicts, defeats and victories of the human race that pass unrecorded by history, and reclaims the significance of an individual life. A reading experience like no other, itself a paean to the power of literature, it is a novel to be savoured.
You get to learn a lot about surviving the zombie hordes when you’re writing a zombie novel. Aside from the obvious barricade-the-door, stock-up-on-tinned-food rules, there are some key things to keep in mind. Here are my top five tips to surviving the zombie apocalypse: Continue reading
The longlist has been announced! The Man Booker – always accompanied by mixed feelings from the literary world – has announced its 13 titles up for this year’s prize. Of the authors, only two (Crace and Tóibín) have been nominated for the Prize before, and three – Bulawayo, Harris and Ryan – are debut novelists. Here’s a bit more about the books themselves… Continue reading
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Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil
Faber and Faber: paperback published 2012: 292 pages
Wait now, light me up so we do this right, yes, hold me steady to the lamp, hold it, hold, good, a slow pull to start with, to draw the smoke low into the lungs, yes, oh my…
Shuklaji Street, in Old Bombay. In Rashid’s opium room the air is thick with voices and ghosts: Hindu, Muslim, and Christian. A young woman holds a long-stemmed pipe over a flame, her hair falling across her eyes. Men sprawl and mutter in the gloom. Here, they say you introduce only your worst enemy to opium. There is an underworld whisper of a new terror: the Pathar Maar, the stone killer, whose victims are the nameless, invisible poor. In the broken city, there are too many to count. Stretching across three decades, with an interlude in Mao’s China, it portrays a city in collision with itself. With a cast of pimps, pushers, poets, gangsters and eunuchs, it is a journey into a sprawling underworld written in electric and utterly original prose. Continue reading
The past weekend was a birthday bonanza – I turned the ripe old age of 26 (*melts in to melancholy heap*) on the Friday, and Mum turned *cough* on the Saturday (suffice to say it was a significant one). Which meant a lot of family time (Little Sis was even around for some of it) and way too much food (my diet doesn’t understand why it’s been so neglected and is sulking). And it also meant day trips! Continue reading
The inaugural Folio Prize has announced its first line up of judges. The Folio – a prize of £40,000 – is the first major English-language prize open to writers from all over the world, and was announced in 2011 as a counterpoint to the Man Booker. Continue reading
The book I am reading is 292 pages long. Far from the longest book I’ve ever attempted. And yet it’s taken me nearly 2 weeks to get 137 pages in. The story I’m writing has zombies in it – one of my favourite topics – and has one of the easiest characters I’ve ever dealt with in it. Continue reading
Having recently discussed why The Hobbit was such an influential book for me over at Searching for SuperWomen (read it here), I was delighted to see even more Tolkien news bandying around. Penguin have announced that they will be re-releasing several titles that inspired Tolkien and his epic fantasies, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Continue reading