Review: Strange Hotel, Eimear McBride

Published in The Observer January 28, 2020

If you’ve read so much as a sentence of Eimear McBride’s writing, it is likely to have burned into your brain. Her first two novels, A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing and The Lesser Bohemians, were both written with a ferocious immediacy, in hurtling, viscerally direct prose that captures pre-verbal thought processes “far back in the mind”, as McBride put it.

Continue reading “Review: Strange Hotel, Eimear McBride”

Review: Frankkkistein by Jeanette Winterson

Published in The Independent May 24, 2019

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has certainly had a vivid afterlife: subject to countless adaptations, rewrites, and remakes. Jeanette Winterson is the latest to re-animate the 19th-century Gothic classic, both playfully and sometimes arduously bringing it into a contemporary world of smart-tech and artificial intelligence (AI). 

Continue reading “Review: Frankkkistein by Jeanette Winterson”

Review: The Punchdrunk Encylopaedia by Josephine Machon

Published in The TLS April 16, 2019

It’s no exaggeration to claim that Felix Barrett’s theatre company Punchdrunk has changed British theatre. Founded in 2000, Punchdrunk pioneered, and came to define, immersive theatre: where members of an audience roam around a found space itself rich in atmosphere and meaning, with non-linear narrative conveyed through dance, sound, lighting, audience interaction and hyper- detailed, installation-style design. The company created a version of small-town America inspired by David Lynch and Edward Hopper inside an abandoned Wapping warehouse for Faust (2006), and built a forest inside a vast disused factory in south London for The Firebird Ball (2005). Josephine Machon’s encyclopedia, including substantial contributions from many Punchdrunk key players, is a thorough account of the company’s eighteen-year history – though a few developments are skirted over in this fascinating, and at times irksome, guide to their practice.

Subscribers can read the full review here.

Review: The Parisian by Isabella Hammad

Published by The Independent April 12, 2019

You could call Isabella Hammad’s 550-page novel a sprawling, sweeping historical epic. It does chart a turbulent period of Palestinian history, from the end of the Ottoman empire and the First World War, through British rule and mass immigration of Jews as the Second World War looms.

Continue reading “Review: The Parisian by Isabella Hammad”

Siri Hustvedt: ‘There is a morbid belief that women lack imagination’

Published in the i March 22, 2019

Siri Hustvedt’s new novel, Memories of the Future, has a narrator named SH. At the age of 61, she rediscovers a diary she wrote when she was 23, as well as her first attempt at a novel. The older narrator looks back on her first year living in New York with an eye that is both wry and beady, peering into the gaps between her records and her memories.

Continue reading “Siri Hustvedt: ‘There is a morbid belief that women lack imagination’”

Review: Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

Published in The Independent on March 1, 2019

Marlon James won the Booker for A Brief History of Seven Killings, his bestselling novel about the attempted assassination of Bob Marley. Who knows what the judges will make of this gleeful and wholehearted leap into genre fiction: Black Leopard, Red Wolf is a vivid, bloody fantasy epic, playing out over more than 600 pages, complete with the sort of maps Tolkien would be proud of.

Continue reading “Review: Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James”

Jane Austen’s unfinished novel comes to the stage

Published in The New York Times on November 6, 2018

What happens to a novel’s characters when their author abandons them? I spoke to British playwright Laura Wade about bringing “The Watsons,” an unfinished novel by Jane Austen, to the stage, in a piece for the New York Times. Continue reading “Jane Austen’s unfinished novel comes to the stage”

The art of the ménage à trois

Published in BBC Culture on November 7, 2018

Brangelina, Kimye, Hiddleswift… you could be forgiven for thinking the celebrity portmanteau name was an invention of the 21st Century. But today’s creative couples surely have nothing on the delightful ‘PaJaMa’: an amalgam of Paul Cadmas, Jared French and Margaret French, to reflect the interdependence of their relationship and artistic practice. From 1937 on, they lived as a polyamorous trio for 20 years. Continue reading “The art of the ménage à trois”