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.
In Singapore, a Pontianak is a vengeful female vampire, a creature who erupts from banyan leaves to feed on male flesh. Its pristine, innocent shell — an image of virginal purity in a white dress — may at any moment give way to the grotesque.
As an iceberg drifts through a polar sea, it trawls the sea floor and accumulates biological matter, bacteria, fantastic micro-organisms. In much the same way as the iceberg, Kopf herself specialises in finding the light, the unexpected, and the joyful in apparently sterile ground.
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.