“Constellation” is the word that kept popping up in media coverage of Olga Tokarczuk’s Flights (trans. Jennifer Croft) earlier this year, especially after the novel won the Man Booker International Prize. Flights is narrated by a middle-aged Polish woman who leads an unashamedly itinerant lifestyle, a wanderer whose “energy derives from movement — from the shuddering of buses, the rumble of planes, trains’ and ferries’ rocking” — and her story is interspersed with depictions of other people in similar states of perpetual transit.
“I woke up with a new face, which is to say as another person…” Hang Him When He Is Not There, the début novel by Nicholas John Turner, will be published by Splice in October.
There’s a recent strain of literature that I find intriguing, even though its setup is hopelessly dreary. A first-person narrator, in or close to the present day, conducts research into an historical figure, usually someone who lived in the nineteenth century, in such a way that the narrator’s findings reflect on his or her personal dilemmas.
Lytton Smith is the translator of several Icelandic books, including, most recently, Ófeigur Sigurðsson’s Öræfi. In reviewing the novel for Splice, Alec Dewar called Öræfi “a gleefully byzantine, oddly proportioned, confounding, compelling, and finally operatic achievement”, and described Smith’s translation as “a breathtaking feat”.
It’s not every day that you come across a novel with a passage like this in its opening pages: Flosi from Svínafell came back from his vehicle; the angle grinder leapt to life and the hotel splattered with red gore…
To celebrate the recent release of Flare and Falter, Michael Conley will be reading from his collection of stories at The Metropolitan in Didsbury, Manchester, at 7.30pm on September 6.
On the face of it, there are some similarities between The Tyranny of Lost Things and Patrick Langley’s Arkady. Arkady, too, is a début novel, and its narrative is recognisably set in post-recession, austerity-era London.