The Fantasy Story as a Merciless Laboratory of History: On RF Kuang’s “Babel, or The Necessity of Violence”

DECEMBER 3, 2022 RF KUANG’s latest novel Babel, or The Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution (Harper Voyager, 2022) gives readers not just a thrilling work of fantasy, but also an adventure of the mind. Set in an altered 1830s Britain, the novel speaks to the historical imagination. The fantastic … Read more

The Paris Review – Forbidden Notebooks: A Woman’s Right to Write

Alba de Cespedes pictured in the Italian magazine Epoca, vol. VII, no. 86, May 31, 1952. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. Forbidden evokes, to my English-speaking ear, the biblical fruit whose consumption leads to shame and expulsion from Paradise. Eve’s story is not irrelevant to a novel like Alba de Céspedes’s Forbidden Notebook, in which … Read more

Keeping My Writing Current – The Literary Consultancy

Motivation It’s easy to start writing. Finishing tricky. I started writing fiction for teens because my experience was there after supporting literacy in schools. Doing research for a YA novella called ‘Get Over It, Adventures,’ Onwards & Upwards, 2009, gave me insight into writing for a purpose. Also, I wrote prose non-fiction to understand my … Read more

Post-It Note Reviews:

INTRO Freestyle: A Graphic Novel by Gale Galligan (ISBN-13: 9781338045819 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 10/18/2022, Ages 8-12) From New York Times bestselling author Gale Galligan, a fun, high-energy graphic novel about friendship, family, and the last hurrahs of middle school. Cory’s dance crew is getting ready for a major competition. It’s the last one … Read more

Making the Fun Factory

Does the name Karno mean anything today? It made a rare appearance in recent political polemic, with Theresa May described by one critic as “more at home in Fred Karno’s Circus than leading her party or Brexit negotiations”. But in his heyday, at the beginning of the First World War, the knockabout comedian was famous … Read more

From forager to banker

It is important to know what sort of creatures we are. If we don’t, how can we know how to behave? Or what really makes us thrive? And to find out what we are, we need to know where we’ve come from, who our relations are and what forces shaped us. The short answer is … Read more

Roosevelt’s rough deal

The appetite for biographies of American presidents is insatiable. Critics have complained for more than half a century that “the presidential synthesis” distorts US history by slicing it up artificially to match the terms of its presidents, which may have little relation to longer-term social trends. Social historians have lamented the stress that biographies place … Read more

Is man no more than this?

Down-and-out, vagabond, homeless, mendicant, drifter, fly-by-night, tramp, traveller, hobo, bum, loafer, shirker, rogue, cursetor. These words, some familiar to us, others less so, have long been used to describe those whose lives are lived on the margins of so-called respectability. The degree to which poverty has been seen as something to be ashamed of has … Read more

Stealing Ukraine’s past

The priest yanked the iron handle on the trapdoor and led me down to the crypt. In the church above a handful of old ladies in headscarves were crossing themselves and lighting votive candles: the Cathedral of St Catherine in Kherson remained open throughout the nine months of Russian occupation, so the faithful could continue … Read more