And this week, Heather McDaid of 404 Ink brings us a graphic novel on a refugee’s journey a topic that couldn’t be more relevant in our tumultuous world:
Barroux’s style is bold, dark and striking; colour is used sparingly and pierces through in moments of hope or happiness, but then the darkness of his work becomes all-consuming as it fades slowly away. Sarah’s translation of Bessora is equally sparing – it remains focused on Alpha, his journey, and the stories of those around him as he travels further and further afield.
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I immediately fell in love with the novella and Gurba’s narrator Desiree Garcia when I read it earlier this year. I devoured most of the book whilst waiting for a flight and during the subsequent airplane journey itself – actually the perfect place to absorb this novel which has a main character grappling with all the things going on inside her head as well as around her.
Read more – subscribe to The Unsung Letter, a weekly missive on an underhyped book, sung to the rafters by a different writer/critic/book pusher each time. This week it’s New Zealander Andrea Quinlan.
Just a quick one this week – I’m off to Leeds to read at Blackwells with three other debut novelists. Also – yesterday the Edinburgh International Book Festival catalogue was released: check out who is in it! Tickets go on sale next Tuesday, and a link will be here then.
This week’s Unsung Letter brings us an insight into the beautiful silver thread that can join reader and book, the thread of personal connection brought about by the right letters strung along in front of our eyes.
On paper it sounds like a bit of a misery memoir: girl comes home to Orkney follow stint in rehab for addiction, trying to heal herself through writing and being close to nature. But Liptrot’s story is anything but miserable: she finds that her life is full of resonances that for years she was too busy to hear, but now echo to her from unexpected corners and reverberate through her new self. If this sounds rather dippy-hippy and saccharine, Liptrot’s writing isn’t that either: it’s bright and clear and incisive, knife-sharp. There is also inherent danger in her story. It is the tale of one living so close to the edge of the normal world that the drop seems at times inevitable.
Read more here.
The Unsung Letter is a weekly tinyletter featuring one new(ish) under-hyped book, sung to the rafters by a different writer/poet/critic/book-pusher every time.
This week’s Unsung Letter, written by Angelica Jade Bastién, is on a poetry collection that cuts deep, and on the image of the madwoman on celluloid and the page:
A few years ago a feeling I’ve had for a while crystallized into a theory I’ve come to call The Ophelia Factor. As an Afro-Latina with bipolar disorder since my early teens I have been devouring the stories and work of women who share this struggle. These women contain multitudes. They’re celluloid mavens like Marilyn Monroe in how she’s framed by photographer Eve Arnold and writer Truman Capote. They’re noir sirens like the diabolical femme fatale Gene Tierney played in the 1945 Technicolor Leave Her to Heaven. They’re genius wordsmiths like Sylvia Plath, perhaps the foremost image in modern times of a woman undone by her own mind. What unites these women beyond their mental illnesses are a concoction of curious factors. They’re young, beautiful, and white. So often the stories of mentally ill women are flattened into tragedies in which they aren’t the architect of their own destinies. Instead they’re cautionary tales.
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A recommendation this week of something a little different – a long poem in translation, brought to our attention by Ariell Cacciola:
It is a poem that hungrily gnaws on the antithetical senses of despair and sly humor. I couldn’t hazard a guess how many times I’ve read it (both the original and the translation) and I argue that you don’t even need to know the original German to understand the ricochet of language and anguish, the rubbery sense of voice that tugs the reader back and forth. I was lucky enough to have seen excerpts read publicly by both poet and translator, hearing the sound of each word and the relation to the next and then some.
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This week’s Unsung Letter comes to you courtesy of writer and editor of Necessary Fiction, Steve Himmer. What has he chosen to draw you to? A taste:
So it is also extremely funny in the bittersweet, laugh-or-you’ll-cry way life requires. It snuck up on me in a wonderful manner, seeming at first to be a kind of light urban fabulism. Then as characters and their tightly proscribed lives took shape, they revealed the complexities of immigration and bureaucracy and decidedly modern pains and isolations.
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This week’s Unsung Letter is all about teenage passions of the reading kind:
The books that I read at fourteen, fifteen, sixteen were just the ones my mum had in the house, those she’d noticed reviewed in The Scotsman or The List in those years. She treated herself to a new book every couple of months and they were almost always by Scottish authors at that time. Janice Galloway, The Trick Is To Keep Breathing. AL Kennedy, Looking For The Possible Dance. Alasdair Grey, A History Maker. Trainspotting, OBVIOUSLY. This was just what adults read, I thought
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