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June 2016

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#FoylesFive: Writers of Colour
26th June 2016 - Sofia Hericson

Though I believe myself to be an open minded, inclusive and fair person, I have to admit that I still sometimes have moments of (white) privilege that cloud my judgment. I could say it’s not my fault, it’s society’s fault and so on, but there’s only one person that can change the way I see the world and that person is me. I have to educate myself to think more intersectionally. So this year I made it my goal to only read books written by writers (mainly women) of colour to really try to learn more about other cultures and immerse myself in other voices.

 

Luckily enough I work with a bunch of interesting and knowledgeable people, and I sent a quick email explaining my project and asking for recommendations. Soon enough my inbox was full of recommendations sent by staff from all our shops, and I learned of other people doing the same thing. It fills my heart with joy, to be surrounded by these amazing minds so eager to share their love for books. I have filled a bag with titles written on little slips of paper from which I pick a random slip anytime I need a new book to read. This journey is not even half way through and I already feel its benefits. I want tell you about all the books I've read so far, the wonderful metamorphoses lived in the pages of The Vegetarian, the simple but warm love story of Strange Weather in Tokyo (recommended by Marion), the daring and hopeful lives of two Iranian girls who fall in love in If you Could be Mine (recommended by Andi), and the surreal, captivating and unputdownable Panty (recommended by Gavin) which I'm reading right now.

 

But I can only choose five so here they are...

Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto - recommended by the team at For Book's Sake in the article 10 Women Writers of Colour You Have to Read published in GEEKED Magazine - The Intersectionality Issue.

This novel tells two stories of how two women grieve after great losses and the role other people play in their survival. Yoshimoto’s masterful writing depicts family, love and trans-sexuality through the devastating and transformative lens of grief in such a natural way that though heart-breaking it fills you with hope. Magnificent.

 

The Nakano Thrift Shop by Hiromi Kawakami - following Marion's recommendation of Strange Weather in Tokyo by the same author.

To follow a book such as Strange Weather in Tokyo is quite a challenge and many of us wondered if Kawakami could pull it off, but in my honest opinion she has! Once again the reader is presented with a simple yet warm and gentle story about love, friendship and the wonderful little things in life that tie us together as a community. With the weather and the curiosities sold and bought in the shop setting a background to the different chapters we witness Hitomi and her co-worker Takeo fall in love and her relationship with him and the other characters (Mr. Nakano and his sister Masayo) develop through the book. A truly heart-warming story, available in the UK in August.

 

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - Amandeep, Khadra and Jeff all recommended Americanah to me. But I thought I would start with Adichie's first book, and go from there.

In Purple Hibsicus we follow Kambili's life as a fifteen year old daughter of a deeply religious father, who sets extremely rigid rules in the household in the name of god. When invited to spend the holidays at her aunt's house Kambili and her brother are faced with a reality they never knew existed, one full of colour, laughter and warmth. With this debut Adichie shows us the heart-breaking reality of fanaticism and fundamentalism its violent nature and the strength and silence involved in surviving in this environment. But she also offers love, hope and freedom making this a story that will stay with you for a long time after you have finished the book.

 

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives by Lola Shoneyim - recommended by Amandeep.

Anything I say about this book won't do justice to Shoneyim's truly incredible writing. Her ability to capture the idiosyncrasies of the different character's speech and by breaking the story into chapters narrated by their own voices, Shoneyim brings these people to life. At times funny, other times heart-breaking, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives talks about motherhood, conflict, partnership and the challenges of a polygamous marriage. In a completely different style to Adichie, the author captures an equally colourful and deeply diverse Nigeria.

 

Aya: Life in Yop City by Marguerite Abouet and Clement Oubrerie- recommended by Heather and Funsho.

Fantastic graphic novel loosely based on Abouet's childhood in Ivory Coast, tells the story of Aya a determined and studious 19 year old and her free-spirited friends Adjoua and Bintou and their families in Yop City. Light and funny writing pairs with vibrant and warm colours from Clement Oubrerie's art. This book not only focuses on simple pleasures of everyday life but also denotes women’s emancipation in the Ivory Coast in the 1980s.

 

 

Iron Girls to Leftover Women: What Next for Chinese Women?
24th June 2016 - Nicky Harman

Nicky Harman translates fiction and non-fiction from Chinese, including books by Xinran and Xu Xiaobin. She organizes translation-related events, co-runs the Read Paper Republic free weekly short story series, tweets as Chinese Fiction Book Club @cfbcuk, and recently collated ‘Ten Chinese Women Whose Writing Should Be Translated’ for LitHub. She is co-Chair of the UK Translators Association.

Chinese women writers, Xinran and Xu Xiaobin, both focus on women, one in her reportage, the other as a novelist. Exclusively for Foyles, Nicky talked to them about how life has changed for women in China since the 1980s.

 

 

 

Xu Xiaobin’s latest novel Crystal Wedding is the story of a marriage doomed from the start by sexual ignorance, and of a woman torn between her passion for her work as an artist and her love for her son. It also charts some of the changes in Chinese women’s lives, from the muscle-bound Iron Girls of the Cultural Revolution, to the pressures to play simpering seductresses of powerful men in the twenty-first century. Crystal Wedding will never be published in China because it is explicit about sex and corruption; the author has taken considerable personal risk in allowing it to be published in English translation. The boook has recently been longlisted for the Financial Times/Oppenheimer Emerging Voices prize.

 

 

 

Xinran is a UK-based British-Chinese journalist and writer, well-known to readers for her Good Women of China, a groundbreaking collection of true stories taken from her 1990s Nanjing Radio phone-in programme. Since then, she has written about older women (and men) in China Witness, about young women forced to give up their babies in Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother, and much more. In 2004, she set up The Mothers' Bridge of Love  (MBL), a charity for adopted Chinese children which aims to create a bridge of understanding between China and the West and between adoptive culture and birth culture. In 2011, Xinran was nominated for the Guardian’s top 100 of the world's most inspirational women.

 

 

 

CHINESE WOMEN: FROM IRON GIRLS TO LEFTOVER WOMEN…WHAT NEXT?

How much has life changed for women in China since the 1980s when you began to write about women?

 

Xinran

It depends where they are. For urban women, a lot has changed at many different levels. They now have the freedom to choose whom to marry and how to live, they have education, financial independence, sex education and good health care, and the freedom to express their emotions. The value of girls has also been raised by the one-child per family policy.

But not very much changed in more remote areas. There still is a huge gap between cities and countryside. I was in China in April 2016, doing research on migrant women (since 1997 when I moved to the UK, I have gone back to China twice a year to do research). I see how little they are able to earn from their incredibly hard work, as they struggle to make their living in the city. They devote all of their time and energy to their families, even sacrificing their health, in order to build a better life for their children and grandchildren. Indeed, without Chinese mothers, China would not have survived the last one hundred years, which were terribly dark times for China, full of wars, political killings and starvation.

 

Xu Xiaobin

Since the 1980s, the position of women in China has changed beyond all recognition. In material terms, their standard of living has shot up. China used to be known as the ‘nation of blue ants’. Women’s clothing came in three colours, black, white and dark blue (plus, of course, from army khaki). Nowadays, you can get fashion labels from all over the world in China. However, women's social status has plummeted. At least in Mao’s day, there was respect for the spirit of the Iron Girls. Although gender equality was a myth, the difference in status between men and women was not huge. Whereas now, phallocentrism rules. In almost every domain, what men say, goes. The reason, it has to be said, lies a lot with women: money has become an object of worship in China, but many women would rather rely on a man to fulfill their dreams of luxury, than fight for a better standard of living for themselves. So women get into jealous fights over men, and men increasingly oppress women. It’s produced a situation where women with as much or more talent and ability than men are unable to obtain the recognition they deserve. But most women resign themselves to mediocrity, and would rather be rich than intellectually and spiritually fulfilled.   

 

Given that there is nowadays less sexual ignorance and more personal freedom, has life improved for young women in China today, or have different pressures made things more difficult for them?

 

Xu Xiaobin

Of course, sexual freedom has brought progress, but too much sexual freedom has resulted in a skewed kind of sexual permissiveness. As I said in my foreword to Crystal Wedding, sex has become a way of bribing those in power; there are no such things as state-run brothels, but everywhere you see signs for ‘restaurant clubs’ which are brothels in all but name. High-school girls work as escorts, decent women have one-night stands – and there’s nothing shaming any more in using sex to get ahead in life. Poverty is the real shame, not selling one’s body, and honesty is considered really ridiculous.

 

Xinran

I have learned two things from my researches on China’s modern history and Chinese women's lives: one is that tradition and cultural beliefs are much more powerful than any religion or political force, and the other is that selecting the sex of the unborn child is the cause of the longest-running war in human history.

Chinese women today face challenges which come both from Chinese tradition and from western culture. Education is the key for women to open the door to making their own life choices and gaining independence, but education over the last forty years has apparently failed to offer this opportunity to Chinese women, especially in the developing areas in China. There are still quite large numbers of Chinese women who suffer the consequences of sexual ignorance and abuse, and languish in forgotten corners, unsupported by their communities. 

 

And finally, are young Chinese women still terrified of ending up on the shelf. Is ‘leftover woman’ still a term of abuse?

 

Xinran

No, the term no longer has the force it once did. In the ‘marriage revolution’ of the last ten years, thousands of Chinese women have said a resounding ‘NO’ to their family and to the traditional society which forced them into marriage.

 

Xu Xiaobin

No, there are a lot of educated young women who have chosen to marry late or not at all, for all sorts of reasons: because they can see how insecure men are nowadays, because they’re still on the lookout for someone better, because they are quite well-off financially themselves and don’t feel the need to marry, and (in a very few cases) because they have not met a soulmate and persist in believing in the values of marriage. 

 

Author and Sunday Times Drinks Critic Finds some Fine Wines to Accompany Jessie Burton's The Muse
21st June 2016 - Damian Barr

Great books deserve great wine. And what’s a book club without a bottle or three?  Every month Damian Barr, author and Sunday Times Drinks Critic, will suggest surprising and delicious #NovelPairings: Would Bridget Jones choose Chardonnay now? Which Champagne does James Bond prefer? How tipsy is Ulysses?  Helping Damian make the #NovelPairings are James Franklin from Corney & Barrow and our own Simon Heafield from Foyles. This month it's the turn of Jessie Burton's new novel, The Muse.

Click here for an exclusive interview with Jessie Burton about her new novel.

 

 

 

 

A Book and A Bottle #NovelPairings Damian Barr

The Muse, Jessie Burton

Two young women, each determined to forge her own life in creative fire, are the twin stars of The Muse. In 1936, Olive Schloss longs to study painting at the Slade but is trapped with her rich warring parents in a crumbling but glamorous finca in Southern Spain. In 1967 Odelle Bastien emigrates from Trinidad to London determined to be a writer. Odelle’s world is still recovering from the war that Olive’s world is fast hurtling towards. A mysterious painting binds their stories together.

No spoilers, I promise. But Jessie Burton’s second novel has all the hallmarks of her smash debut The Miniaturist: compelling characters, detail to linger over and a dark mystery ticking steadily at the centre like a fatal clock. Unusually for a split narrative, both characters and settings are equally gripping. 'It’s going to be a big hit,' predicts Simon. 'The term is much derided but this is the definitive‘page-turner.'

Odelle lands a job in the snooty Skelton’s Gallery. It’s 1962 but London isn’t quite swinging yet: ‘In London there were many ways to live but few to change the life you had’. As a young black woman Odelle gets used to dirty looks. When she gets called ‘wog’ we flinch with her. The gin-swilling couture-clad Marjorie Quick is Odelle’s boss and unlikely mentor and must surely be played by Miranda Richardson in the inevitable film adaptation: ‘Her clothes were an armour made of silk’. It’s to Marjorie that Odelle turns when her new boyfriend produces a startling painting supposedly left to him by his mother.

Over in Spain, the Finca, owned by ‘la duquesa’, ‘had an air of camphor laced with old cigar smoke’. It’s no wonder Olive Schloss feels trapped. She’s stuck, miles from anywhere and a world away from the Slade, with her mother, Sarah, and father, Harold. ‘It was not unusual for wealthy foreigners to come to this corner of southern Spain, with their industrial inheritances and discontentment with city life. Bohemian children of millionaires.’ The Jewish Schlosses have, wisely, fled Vienna. Harold is a rich art dealer and Sarah an even richer heiress. He has affairs and she ‘smiles in ballrooms, weeps in bedrooms’. Brother and sister Isaac and Teresa Robles wander up from the village offering domestic services inveigling themselves into the Schloss’s already messy lives.

The Muse hurtles along on several levels: domestic discord, local disputes, civil war and what will become World War Two. At the centre of it all is a painting.

It’s the latest addition to the genre we should call ‘pic-lit’: The Vermeer in The Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracey Chevalier, the disputed Bruegel in Headlong by Michael Frayn and a made-up painting by a real artist, Antoine Watteau, in Hannah Rothschild’s The Improbability of Love. The tiny Goldfinch by Carel Fabritius inspired Donna Tartt’s epic of the same name. In The Muse we have a made-up masterpiece by an imagined artist. Astonishingly, the shimmering golden mane and gory head-carrying woman in Rufina and the Lion feel real. As real as the handsome, artist-turned-revolutionary Isaac Robles. You’ll be imagining it, and him, long after the final twist.

The Bibulous-o-graphy for The Muse is lengthy. You can sip it at your leisure here. There’s lots of Dubonnet and Gin in Odelle’s Soho and plenty of Fino in Olive’s finca. My favourite reference is to some vintage champagne used to douse Sarah’s Rapunzel wig when it catches fire at a fancy dress party.

'Straight away we thought of Spanish reds,' says James. Simon and I nod and hold out our glasses. 'Rioja Crianza Bodegas Zugober 2011 is a great start – Rioja gets big in the UK around the time Odelle arrives from Trinidad.' A spicy country red packed with ripe red fruit but maybe too obvious a choice. Next up we try Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Castello di Monna Lisa Vignamaggio 2011. 'The Castello is stunning,' says James. 'One of the most beautiful places we buy from and the owner claims his ancestor was the model for the Mona Lisa.' A delicious tale and a big, bold but balanced Sangiovese blend yet possibly too heady for me. And Isaac Robles isn’t interested in masterpieces – he wants revolution.

Serendipitously, we try La Muse de Cabestany Pinot Noir IGP Pays d’Oc Celliers Jean d’Alibert 2014. But, as with the Mona Lisa, it’s almost too all upfront. As the characters find, being a muse is complicated relationship and La Muse is perhaps not complex enough.

The Schlosses are glamorous global citizens with homes the world over. They drink local wine, and lust after locals, but aren’t bound to custom. 'I can see them drinking this at lunch in the Orchard,' says James uncorking a bottle of Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso Cecilia Beretta 2014. 'That’s it,' says Simon. 'Ripasso means "go over again",' says James. Aromatic, sugary Amarone grape skins are added to basic valpolicella to boost flavour and intensity. As multi-layered as The Muse, it’s the perfect #NovelPairing.

 

 

#FoylesFive: Unicorns
20th June 2016 - Sarah Duggan

Sarah, from our Birmingham shop, loves unicorns and spends most of her time daydreaming about being a unicorn princess. Here is her round-up of 5 of the best unicorn books for all ages. 

 

Fluttershy and the Furry Friends Fair by G. M. Berrow

A heart-warming tale of friendship and magic from My Little Pony. Fluttershy is worried when her pet bunny, Angel, wants to enter the Furry Friends Fair herding contest. This story is action-packed, imaginative and fun – perfect for any little princess.

 

 

Unicorn: The Poetry of Angela Carter by Angela Carter

Unicorn is beautiful in all its ambitious glory; startlingly and sometimes disconcertingly experimental, compellingly dark, defiant in the face of literary and social convention and mystical to its core. 

 

 

The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle

Extremely creative and deeply moving storytelling, magical characters and vivid, enchanting illustrations – a graphic novel with great transporting power.

 

 

Mimi's Magical Fairy Friends by Clare Bevan 

Comet the unicorn gets his horn stuck in a tree! The most adorable picture book for all those who spend most of their time living in fairy land.

 

 

The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracey Chevalier

A timeless novel steeped in history, intrigue and beauty. Tracey Chevalier entices the reader with her explanation of the mystery behind a set of medieval tapestries which supposedly depict a woman seducing a unicorn. Absolutely compelling.

 

#FoylesFive

 

 

 

Read an Extract from Louise Gornall's YA debut, Under Rose-Tainted Skies.
17th June 2016

Louise Gornall is currently studying for a degree in English language and literature with special emphasis on creative writing. She  is a YA aficionado, film nerd, identical twin and junk food enthusiast. In her debut YA novel, Under Rose-Tainted Skies, agoraphobia confines Norah to the house she shares with her mother. For her, the outside is sky glimpsed through glass, or a gauntlet to run between home and car. But a chance encounter on the doorstep changes everything: Luke, her new neighbour. Norah is determined to be the girl she thinks Luke deserves: a 'normal' girl, her skies unfiltered by the lens of mental illness. Instead, her love and bravery open a window to unexpected truths...

Read the opening chapter here.

 

 

Dan Richards Goes in Search of his Mountaineering Great-Great-Aunt Dorothy Pilley
17th June 2016

Dan Richards was born in Wales in 1982 and grew up in Bristol. He studied at the University of East Anglia and the Norwich Art School. He is the co-author of Holloway with Robert Macfarlane and Stanley Donwood. He is also the author and editor of The Beechwood Airship Interviews. In Climbing Days, Dan is on the trail of his great-great-aunt, Dorothy Pilley, a prominent and pioneering mountaineer of the early twentieth century. What emerges is a beautiful portrait of a trailblazing woman, up to now lost to history - but also a book about that eternal question: why do people climb mountains?

Author photo © Steve Gullick

 

 

 

 

 

In the Footsteps of Dorothy Pilley

I'm writing this piece on my phone aboard a ferry from Heimaey on the Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar) back to Landeyjahöfn on the Icelandic mainland. In front of me is a small harbour recently built on the marshy flats of the Markarfljót estuary, behind which rise the brute cocoa cliffs of the Seljalandsmúli outcrop, flashed white in places with beautiful tongue-twisting waterfalls like Seljalandsfoss and Gljúfrabúi. High beyond Seljalandsfoss is the Eyjafjalla Glacier from which its cascade stems, an ice cap atop a volcano, and further still, to the east, the white dome of Mýrdalsjökull… massed massive, potent, radiating cold whilst, all the while in its heart, charged cardinal magma churns.

 

I tell you this, not just to set the scene, beautiful, striking and strange as it may be — the meeting of worlds: this gleaming GPS equipped, wifi-happy car ferry, chock full of snoozing daytrippers, speeding towards the immobile adamaintine heft of Seljalandsmúli's lava topped hyaloclastite — but because my great great aunt, Dorothy Pilley, would have loved this scene, this boat, this place, absolutely. She'd be out on the windswept deck leaning on the rail — a beaming young girl, hair billowing; in middle age, hair bunned Princess Leah-esque, headscarf flapping; in creased but indomitable old age, set with her sticks, eyes narrowed as she scanned the mountainous steeps ahead for possible routes, or regaled and astounded fellow passengers with stories of her life and adventures, steadfastly refusing offers of help back into the warmth where I sit thumb-typing away.

 

Dorothy — Dorothea within the family — is with me often.

I see her in crowds, sense her with me whenever I go to the wild places she loved and spent a great deal of her life. 'Greatly venturing' she would have called it, with a grin, and Iceland is the quintessence of a Dorothean dream — the hard blue distance of the mountains, plains and lava fields, the beckoning emptiness, the warmth of the people and promise of welcome, hospitality and an excellent meal — the sense of adventure and ancient saga… she was always a fan of stories and 'good talk' and drawn to charismatic raconteurs and fellow travellers, traits embodied by my great great uncle, I.A. Richards. Together they explored, quested and climbed worldwide from the 1910s to the 1970s. Their wanderlust for new adventures and great love for each other spanned more than half a century:

Ivor — great academic and thinker: quiet, thoughtful and patient, yet mischievous, an unsurpassed anecdotalist and lithe athlete in his day.

And Dorothea — fiery, headstrong, fierce yet childlike, playful, always for the underdog, indefatigable… both of them eccentrics of vastly different temperaments, yet apparently complimenting each other completely.

 

‘Dorothea was an immensely strong willed woman, determined to get her own way’, writes Richard Luckett in his introduction to Selected Letters of I.A. Richards: ‘Her inclination to be a great lady went with an equal and opposite desire to be off with the raggle-taggle gypsies.’

Yet for years I found it hard to get a grip on the pair. There were stories within the family, reminiscences from my father about 'Royal visits' and amazingly dangerous Christmas presents, people jumping into thorn bushes and toast being thrown out of windows; reports of renowned pioneering ascents in North Wales and the Swiss Alps… but they always seemed aloof and out of reach somehow. I'd never met them, they'd died before my time, and I didn't climb.

 

It was not until I studied I.A.R.'s work at university and read Dorothea's 1935 memoir — a record of her early climbing life and mountaineering feats with Ivor — that the people behind the outlandish accounts and outright myths began to come into focus. I found that I couldn't help but read as an interested party with a forensic eye, looking for the writer in the writing, the real people between the lines but, on first reading, Dorothea kept shifting, avoiding my eye, the narrative constantly switching tenses, viewpoints and locales; soaring, alighting, dwelling, darting elsewhere. I couldn’t make her out. There seemed so much unsaid or, perhaps, I wanted something more than the text could give.

I couldn’t just enjoy the book like a civilian, it threw up too many questions… but then I found a poem named HOPE which Ivor wrote for Dorothea in their later years to cheer her up after the car accident which effectively ended her climbing life; the full title is HOPE to D.E.P. in hospital for a broken hip

 

 

HOPE

 

My dear: Wales has a slab

Named Hope―a tall, buff, tilting thing.

It listens, these late centuries,

To querulous, lost, impatient lambs

And the ambiguous sheep

Conversing through the mist.

There, leading, one cool Spring,

Rope out, the holds glare ice,

You found your pocket scissors:

                                        stab by stab

Picked enough clear, floated on up.

                                        I keep

A memory of that for other jams:

You immaterialist,

Who know when to persist.

 

Recall the Epicoun:

Night, welling up so soon,

Near sank us in soft snow.

At the stiff-frozen dawn,

When Time has ceased to flow,

―The glacier ledge our unmade bed―

I hear you through your yawn:

‘Leaping crevasses in the dark,

That’s how to live!’ you said.

No room in that to hedge:

A razor's edge of a remark.

 

[HOPE held in the Richards Collection, Magdalene College, Cambridge]

 

 

I know some people write poetry to limber up the brain and in my mind I see an aged I.A.R. drafting HOPE, reaching back to the sure-footed agility of years past, his lines nimble, the poem flowing with an assured fluency ― deft tribute to a cherished place and partner. The more I read it, the more it felt like a way into the pair’s relationship and work — a Richards/Pilley Rosetta Stone — a bridge between the two apparently disparate figures for here was Dorothea as Ivor saw her, reveling in the wildness of her element: liberated to be herself in the mountains which were to be the fulcrum to their partnership — a watershed for Dorothea and a healing force for the pulmonary tuberculosis which cast a shadow over Ivor’s early life; a harsh topography which tested yet suited them — Dorothea’s frenetic energy counterpoint to Ivor’s logic and precision — specifically the Ogwen Valley in Snowdonia, the place where they first met, the situation which drew them together. As some walk or swim to think — the act fulfilling as much a cerebral as physical role — so climbing, for Dorothea, keyed into her soul. She was a climber in the 1920s, first and foremost, an amazing thing to be at that time.

 

The mountains were her true domain, anathema to the repressed Edwardian London of her youth; the mountains: egalitarian, sovereign and free. And so, my interest piqued, I set out to meet the pair, but particularly Dorothea, in the peaks of their precipitous domain. And I grew very fond of them and proud of their accomplishments — their 1928 ascent of the Dent Blache's North Arête remains the stuff of legend.

 

So I learnt to climb, became vaguely proficient with crampons and an ice axe, and began to travel in their footsteps and handholds around the more vertiginous parts of the UK and Europe, using Dorothea's memoir as my guide and I wrote a book about the journey and I named it, Climbing Days… and since then I've carried on roving and writing in wild, inspiring mountainous places whenever possible, inspired by them.

 

Soon this great white boat will dock and I'll climb aboard the blue and yellow coach I can see now on the dockside to continue the research for my next book — still nebulous at the moment but probably revolving about ideas of wilderness and the structures man builds and has built in their interior and edgelands.

 

Yesterday I watched puffins fly and land  on the nobbly grass cliff tops on the southern tip of Heimeay in a crazy green birders box — 'stop flying and drop' might be nearer the mark, they always looked very surprised and doubtful when attempting it. Iceland is such a strange, surprising and gorgeous country. The constant daylight would surely drive me mad if I lived here... or not? I guess people get used to such things with the aid of adventurous living, good beer and thick curtains. Dorothea would have loved it, I'm sure of that, but soon enough she would have been itching to get back on the road to the wild unknown.

 

 

Latest Blog
#FoylesFive: Writers of Colour
26/06/2016

Our designer Sofia tells us about her year of reading writers of colour, and picks out her favourite five so far.

Iron Girls to Leftover Women: What Next for Chinese Women?
24/06/2016

Translator Nicky Harman talks to Xinran and Xu Xiaobin about how life has changed for women in China since the 1980s.

Author and Sunday Times Drinks Critic Finds some Fine Wines to Accompany Jessie Burton's The Muse
21/06/2016

Every month Damian Barr, author and Sunday Times Drinks Critic, suggesta surprising and delicious #NovelPairings. This month it's the turn of Jessie Burton's new novel, The Muse.

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