While she was writing her novel Crudo, Olivia Laing was reviewing Chris Kraus’ After Kathy Acker (2017), a biography of the experimental postmodernist. One passage caught her attention: it described an exercise in which David Antin told a young Acker in San Diego to head to the library, take out a biography, and rework it in the first person.
There’s no escape in Amparo Dávila’s fiction. None. Even when characters do escape physically, well, events shatter them mentally. Characters are trapped with demonic children, confronted by doppelgangers, stalked by murderous creatures, and, most insidiously, warped by their own ginned-up, misguided beliefs: those unsettling beliefs that assert, menacingly, You’re in danger.
Three Dreams in the Key of G feels like an intervention. That’s how it has been published: the editorial aim of Dead Ink Books is “to bring the most challenging and experimental writing out from the underground”. That’s how it appeared on the shortlist for the Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize this year: chosen as a wildcard entry by the previous year’s judges, who commended its complexity and difference.
Here is what biographers and historians tell us: in 1506, the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid II invited Michelangelo Buonarroti, a thirty-one-year-old Florentine artist, to Constantinople to design a bridge. The bridge would cross the Golden Horn with the purpose of connecting the eastern and western shores of the Bosporus, the legendary strait that divides Constantinople and connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara.
Meet Keiko Furukura. She has always found it difficult to conform to what her family and wider society consider “normal”. She once stopped a fight between a group of boys at primary school by hitting one of them over the head with a spade.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what makes a short story by Helen McClory so distinctive, but without fail you’ll know it when you find yourself reading one.
“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.