Beauty by Raphael Selbourne

Author: Raphael Selbourne
Publisher: Tindal Street Press
Review: Charlie Wykes

‘Write what you know’. Sound and oft repeated advice for the fledgling novelist and a cursory glance at Raphael Selbourne’s CV – son of an acclaimed historian and philosopher and raised in Oxford and the West Country before teaching in Italy - might suggest he wasn’t listening. Dig a little deeper though and you find that Selbourne actually listens very hard indeed.

Beauty introduces us to a 20 year old girl from a Bangladeshi family living in Wolverhampton and caught in an intolerable situation. Her father and older brother want her to marry an older man from Bangladesh and have gone so far as to have her sent there as a young girl, meaning she has little formal education and for much of her life has been abused, both physically and mentally. Her means of resistance was to appear faggol, crazy and no-one wants a crazy wife so after some years she is sent back to England. In her family’s eyes a sister and daughter who is mad and unwanted is deeply shameful and so the conflict remains.

Ruth O’Callaghan Interview

Ruth O’Callaghan
by Shanta

Ruth O’Callaghan, is a Hawthornden Fellow, competition adjudicator, interviewer and reviewer. A winner in International Poetry competitions, her work is published in many anthologies and magazines and has been translated into Italian, Romanian and German. Her latest collection is Goater’s Alley (Shoestring Press 2010).

Ruth organises the Camden and Lumen Poetry, an innovative project with all proceeds going to help the Cold Weather Shelters in Camden and Kings Cross, London, UK. Regular poetry readings are held in the Camden and Lumen (Kings Cross) venues, with well-known authors appearing alongside new and unpublished poets.

Dare to Inspire

by Sam Wilding

My kids said that I would be pelted with rotten fruit, minimum, if I tried to perform an author / pupil session at their school. ‘Authors are just losers’, explained my delightful teenage daughter, a look of bewilderment on her face. This family pep talk suggested that simple survival was the order of the day, certainly nothing as high and mighty as inspiring children to write. With the release of my first children’s novel, the ominous advice from my publisher was to visit schools as soon as I could. What was I to do?

My first step was to link up with the Scottish Book Trust who matched me with a brilliant mentor-author. My daughter’s words of warning still rattling round in my head, I asked my mentor for a few tips. She advised me to incorporate a short reading from my book that ended in a cliffhanger. An old teacher of mine added that I needed to keep eye contact. Was this a class of kids or a pride of lions? My first pupil talk was already looming so I had to get some kind of presentation together.


Reader Logo by Andrew Hook

In retrospect we did everything backwards. It was Joachim’s idea. He thought it was revolutionary but he was just kicking against the pricks. In the same way that he never washed his handkerchief, just transferred it from trouser pocket to jeans pocket to trouser pocket; a deliberate idiosyncrasy to hide his inadequacies. Any excuse to be other than normal.

He knew it was wrong. This is what gets me. Start with the trailer. Use it as a marketing tool to gain funding. But the trailer can only be a montage of perfect moments that have to come from the film. So the film has to exist. You can’t quote from a story that has yet to be written.

Three years later I’m sitting with Jasmine in a hotel room listening to Polly Scattergood on my mp3 player whilst she writes poetry.

The windows are open and the sky is blue. Yesterday we stood together before the view. From the street we were framed. No one looked up. It isn’t some generic brand hotel in an increasingly generic city; no. We’re in a semi-rural location in Greece. Whites and blues, so bright they hurt the eye. Flagstones smoothed with age. But we’re not really here.

Living Souls Review

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Living Souls 
Author: Dmitry Bykov
Publisher: Alma Books
Review: Vicky

Living Souls is a novel which delves deeply into the psyche of a futuristic Russian nation. It portrays a country in turmoil through war based on historical, political and religious differences and effectively conveys how nonsensical this war becomes. Within the dark, depressing and hopeless backdrop of a meaningless war, Bykov tells the personal stories of four unlikely couples who manage to see beyond their differences and struggle to keep their love and relationships alive. It is a novel where humanity can be seen at its most dangerous and absurd but also at its most loving and tolerant. It juxtaposes deep rooted cultural and spiritual conflicts with the ability and need for sensitivity and acceptance. It conveys the danger behind power, greed and controlling behaviour and describes how easily people can be led, influenced and subconsciously forced to act. It is a novel which touches on some serious and disturbing real issues, tragic political decision making and discrimination at its most horrific. The result of these destructive influences is pain, suffering and tragedy but beyond the darkness and hopelessness there are glimpses of compassion, grace and understanding. The book was challenging to read but immensely interesting and thought provoking.

Rabbit Writer--Over done?

Too cute to resist.

I think that plot can be made to work. Any plot involving adorable animals can be made to work. Well, just about. And certainly when it comes to kids. Trust me, adorable sells.

Reader Logoby Naomi 'Brigid' Gill