‘The Rice Paper Diaries’ by Francesca Rhydderch

I can’t recommend this beautifully-written novel highly enough. Francesca Rhydderch barely puts a foot wrong as she tells an extraordinary story. That story is compelling in itself concerned as it is with the experiences of Elsa, a Welsh woman living in wartime Hong Kong when the Japanese invade. It plays out the life-changing effects of interment, … More ‘The Rice Paper Diaries’ by Francesca Rhydderch

‘A Girl Is A Half-formed Thing’ by Eimear McBride

To read this novel is to experience something remarkable and rare although profoundly discomfiting and emotionally draining. ‘Experienced’ is the apt word because Eimear McBride’s stated intention was to try to immerse the reader in the mind and emotions of her central character, a disturbed young woman whose life is dominated by the effects of … More ‘A Girl Is A Half-formed Thing’ by Eimear McBride

Flannery O’Connor

The fiction of Flannery O’Connor is entirely new to me, but I was tempted by the samples I read and the truly beautiful Folio Society edition which was published recently. I  certainly wasn’t disappointed. She depicts brutal events happening to (mostly) unpleasant people, events that are often violent and sometimes bizarre. I’ve long been aware of … More Flannery O’Connor

Salman Rushdie, ‘The Ground Beneath Her Feet’

‘We always did prefer our iconic figures, injured…’ says Rai Merchant, the photographer-narrator of ‘The Ground Beneath her Feet’ and Rushdie certainly provides us with a pair of injured icons, Vina Apsara and Ormus Cama, the singer and guitarist/songwriter respectively of an improbably popular rock band. If their story is the stuff of myth: all … More Salman Rushdie, ‘The Ground Beneath Her Feet’

Patrick Hannan, ‘Wales Off Message’

I recently re-read Patrick Hannan’s ‘Wales Off Message’. Published in 2000 the events and misadventures in Welsh politics it recounts are all familiar to me although he always managed to find a new angle from which to view those events or a undiscovered nugget of fascination, such as Rhodri Morgan’s unprecedented tidying of his sock … More Patrick Hannan, ‘Wales Off Message’

Reading v. writing

As a reader rather than a writer, I like this from ‘The Well of Lost Plots’ by Jasper Fforde: After all, reading is arguably a far more creative and imaginative process than writing; when the reader creates emotion in their head, or the colours of the sky during the setting sun, or the smell of … More Reading v. writing