I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

World Literature

There Will Be Order

László Krasznahorkai’s new novel, ‘Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming’, reveals the kind of dynamic, both economic and emotional-spiritual, that has facilitated Viktor Orbán’s Hungarian ‘koronadiktatúra’, a form of rule which also appeals to other central European would-be autocrats.

Kicking Against the Bricks

Lars Iyer’s new novel, like his previous work, pushes away from the heaviness and satisfaction of much contemporary fiction, with passion, wit and a combination of philosophical depth and comedic play that are engaging, frequently brilliant and joyous.

The God in the Attic

The astonishing achievement of Marieke Lucas Rijneveld’s writing is its construction of a world of metaphor and simile which is punctured and disrupted by the real. Her novel is the work of a poet, for whom the sensuousness of the material world is a reminder that to compare is to distort.

Drawing Death’s Sting

In ‘Origami Doll’, the poems of Shirley McClure’s entire career whisper to each other as the newer ones shed light on the earlier ones and vice versa. The whole represents a sort of ongoing conversation, underpinned by a stable philosophical view.

Acts of Hope

Poets can be parochial, powerful languages encouraging the sense that there is no need to look beyond their borders. Set against that, there is Osip Mandelstam’s ‘nostalgia for world culture’, a kind of alert openness, a feeling of being at home in an enlarged world of the spirit.

Real Life is Literature

Responding to the claim that writers today draw increasingly directly on their own lives, Jonathan Franzen argued that nobody ever wrote a more autobiographical story than Kafka’s ‘The Metamorphosis’: the most purely autobiographical fiction requires pure invention.

Little Women and their Pa

Louisa May Alcott’s father was a man of advanced views, a deist, vegan and ‘transcendentalist’. But, as is often the case with those of a theoretical and discursive bent, his practical abilities, as well as his appetite for the hard labour his utopian schemes required, were limited.

Not So Equal

They lived in squares, painted in circles and loved in triangles

An Ornery Beast

Our world is organised by boundaries. Those people, those animals, that kind of weather, those diseases belong down there, not up here. But now these boundaries, from which our sense of who we are, individually and collectively, has been drawn, are beginning to look very porous.

From Head to Toe

We have all internalised vast quantities of popular culture and carry around long-term what was intended to passingly divert. The disposable has almost conquered the internal, and Conor Carville’s achievement is to show us this in poems that are by turns vivid, horrifying, clever, funny and visionary.