The search, in non-lusophone literatures, for the word’s elusive meaning finds an echo in the search for a lost place, which illuminates Suneeta Peres da Costa’s lyrical new novella Saudade.
Asymmetry, to give its dictionary definition, is “a lack of equality or equivalence between parts or aspects of something; a lack of symmetry”. It’s also the title of the bold and provocative début from Whiting award-winner Lisa Halliday, a novel that examines the asymmetries of life in the contemporary world with incisive detail and unnerving intelligence.
Acts of devotion tend to arise from religious beliefs and observances, but at heart there’s something deeply secular about them. Why do we admire someone who unselfishly devotes their time to the wellbeing of someone else?
The secularisation thesis — that as societies become more ‘industrialised,’ they become less religious — has been turned over, complicated, even rejected in as many ways as there are commentators on the question, but it nevertheless does seem to describe something about the cultural landscape of the modern West.
Chris Power knows a thing or two about short stories. Since 2007, he has written the Guardian’s occasional series ‘A Brief Survey of the Short Story’. One might say that, with more than sixty entries across ten years, it’s not really brief at all, but then again, considering the history and breadth of the short story form, it must be. Now Power brings us his own début collection, Mothers, comprising ten stories of which only a few have been published previously.
In the title story of his collection Southerly (trans. Cherilyn Elston), Jorge Consiglio establishes a mise en scène — to borrow a term often used in this book — that is coloured by passionate obsession and shaped by small twists of fate, apparently insignificant details, which at first unhinge the protagonist and then clarify his destiny.
Brian Dillon, In the Dark Room. Fitzcarraldo Editions. £12.99. Buy direct from the publisher. by Daniel Davis Wood The books of Brian Dillon are much less stable than most. They’re strange, amorphous things, flexible in their forms, apt to change shape depending on the company they keep. Dillon’s most recent release, though…