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.
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.
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…