Book Review: Lord of the Dead

Lord of the Dead, by Richard Rippon, is a dark crime novel set in the North East of England. Its protagonist is Dr Jon Atherton, a university lecturer and psychologist who freelances for the local police force providing profiles of perpetrators from crime scenes. The story opens when he is called to a particularly gruesome murder. The body of a young woman has been found by a dog walker, carved into bits and left in a field.

Atherton suffers from cerebral palsy which affects his mobility. He is married with a daughter but is in counselling following an affair with a colleague he worked alongside on a previous case. His wife is unhappy when he is once again asked to team up with the woman, DS Kate Prejean.

Prejean and Atherton start their investigations by visiting the scene of a previous murder in which another young woman was found in pieces. Their fear is that they may now be dealing with a serial killer, and as time passes this proves to be the case. To find him (apparently it is always a him) they need to work out the motive and how victims are selected. Other than their similar looks the dead woman appear to have nothing to link them.

The police team must deal with the modern trials of crime fighting: an invasive press;  social media sharing; a PR department whose budget is the only one not to suffer recent cuts to funding. Added to this it becomes clear that an insider is leaking sensitive information. As further bodies are discovered a need for results leads to an ill advised and disastrous attempt at an arrest.

There are elements typical of the genre: Atherton drinks heavily and struggles to be a decent husband; Prejean is conventionally beautiful and emotionally defensive; there are sexual undercurrents and objectification, a lack of detached professionalism; a woman of colour is underrated. The plot arc, however, is strong enough to belie any accusation of being overly formulaic. Tension is retained without feeling overdone and the prose remains engaging.

I found the forensics lead, Sue Cresswell, a more interesting character than Prejean. Even Atherton’s wife, despite her depression, appeared stronger than this supposedly capable senior investigator. Amongst the men DC Rogers felt somewhat underplayed. Given the large cast I wondered if some were introduced with a view to development in potential sequels.

This is a competently written crime novel, British noir with some intriguing reasoning. A strong addition to a popular genre. For fans of crime fiction it is well worth reading.

My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Obliterati Press.


Book Review: You Have Me To Love

You Have Me To Love, by Jaap Robben (translated by David Doherty), is a tale of grief and loneliness set on a small, unnamed island in a remote region. The protagonist is a boy named Mikael who, at nine years old, watches as his father is lost to the sea. The boy blames himself for what happened, as does his mother, Dora. Guilt and recriminations fester as they skirt around each other, unable to provide the particular support each craves.

Also living on the island is Karl, a fisherman. There is a third house which lies empty following the death of an elderly lady, Miss Augusta, who was raised there by her parents. Mikail used to visit with his father who would sort any repairs or maintenance at Miss Augusta’s request. After her death the remaining residents help themselves to the contents of her home as it slowly decays.

Each fortnight groceries are delivered to the island by a boatman, Brigitta. Other than the policemen who come to investigate his father’s disappearance, and one trip several years ago to the nearest town on what they call the mainland, these are the only people Mikael has ever seen.

The story opens on the day Mikael watches as his father is taken by the sea. Afraid of being punished, he does not tell his mother immediately. Even when her husband was alive Dora had been volatile. In her grief at his loss she lashes out at her son creating a painful distance between them that will remain.

Mikael had been home schooled by his father, a task his mother cannot deal with. Thus his schooling ceases and another contact with the outside world is severed.

By the time he is fifteen Mikael is helping Karl, although Dora does what she can to prevent the boy leaving the island even for short fishing trips. She grows jealous when he chats to Brigitta’s son. She resents when he escapes her moods by spending time alone in Miss Augusta’s house. Dora is growing ever more unhinged, her plans for Mikael more than the boy knows how to deal with.

Life on the island is portrayed as one of contrasts. There is a harsh beauty alongside the dirt and decrepitude; a freedom from rules within the confines of the surrounding sea; a loneliness that demands self-reliance. Dora may be jealous of any person or thing that draws her son’s attention away from her, but Mikail is also intent on keeping his mother’s attention for himself.

There is an undercurrent of foreboding, a tension as the reader realises the grotesque direction Dora’s mind is taking. A powerful, parallel plot line with a searing relevance, revealed at the denouement, injects a moment of empathy for the woman whose maternal instincts have appeared so lacking.

A somewhat bleak but evocative portrayal of a life removed from the oft maligned compass of society. Although engaging throughout, the power of the story is the impact it leaves beyond the final page.

My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, World Editions.

Gig Review: The Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses Shortlist Announcement Event

Neil Griffiths prepares to announce the shortlist

Two weeks ago I travelled to Manchester to attend a book event that is close to my heart. Having been invited to join the reader panel for this year’s Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses early last summer, I have been immersed in the many excellent books submitted for consideration for many months. The longlist was announced in December and was, in my view, an outstanding collection of some of the best literary fiction published in recent years.

Whittling this down to a shortlist proved a challenge. It was done over dinner in London, in January, in preparation for an announcement that then had to be delayed due to unforeseen circumstances. I wrote briefly about the the rescheduled event, held in the Centre for New Writing at the University of Manchester, here.

The night, though, was about more than announcing the six books that had made it onto the shortlist. It was an appreciation of the literary achievements of the small presses. As Charles Boyle, author and publisher at CB Editions, said in his guest post for my blog last month (which he told me when I met him in Manchester he really hadn’t wanted to write!):

“Does there have to be a winner? Boringly, yes. It’s how the world tick-tocks. But that doesn’t matter, because the real point of the Republic of Consciousness Prize is to celebrate a movement and a community.”

This sense of community was well in evidence at the Manchester event, despite the obvious disappointment of the authors and publishers that were not shortlisted.

Before the announcement there were panels and talks which I summarise in some detail below for anyone interested.

As an aside, I had not previously been aware that certain other prizes reveal to the publishers beforehand what is to be announced, that print runs may be adjusted to ensure books are available for the anticipated increase in sales. At this event, as far as I know, we judges were the only people who knew the shortlist beforehand.


The evening opened with an introduction by the founder of the RofC prize, Neil Griffiths, who posed a few questions designed to make authors think about what they wanted from a book deal. Neil has published prize winning novels with an imprint of Penguin, enjoying a large advance but little ongoing attention from those he hoped would work to help promote his books. His most recent novel, As A God Might Be, has been published by Dodo Ink, a small press that has offered him a more satisfying experience.

A selection of the longlisted publishers were then invited to form a panel to discuss the recent emergence of the small presses as leaders in literary innovation. Those taking part were Carolina Orloff from Charco Press, Chris Hamilton-Emery from Salt Publishing, Elly Millar from Galley Beggar Press, and Kevin Duffy from Bluemoose Books.

Neil asked why small presses are flourishing.

Kevin suggested that although they still have to sell books (they are not after all a library) they have a different economic imperative.

Elly mentioned some stats that she shares with the publishing students she teaches: in 2001 a literary fiction title written in English would sell on average 1200 copies; by 2015 this average had fallen to around 260 copies per book.

Chris commented that sales are impossible to predict. When Salt started it sold poetry and would be lucky to sell 50 copies of any title; these days it hopes to sell around 200 copies – some perform considerably better, of course.

Carolina added that their longlisted book has sold around 800 copies to date. When asked why she chose to enter the publishing business given these figures she replied it was out of a sense of frustration, that so many good books were simply not available to English language readers. She wished to change the conversation, to bring a wider variety of books to readers.

Kevin suggested that the decline in publishing innovation started with the abolition of the Net Book Agreement. From then, authors were dropped if sales did not meet targets – publishers were no longer willing to carry poor sellers. Libraries were also having their budgets cut and buying fewer books.

Neil mentioned media reports about the fall in sales of literary fiction but the rise in sales of books from small presses (Elly whispered, we have the good stuff!)

There was acknowledgement that most of the authors the small presses publish will already have submitted to the larger houses and been rejected.

Neil asked about the role of agents who are also focused on the bottom line as they need to earn many thousands of pounds from book sales simply to pay for their desk space.

Kevin said that, where there is only so much publishing pie to go around, those looking to ‘pay for their desk space’ were not focusing purely on great writing. Some agents have also been known to express concern when writers are not London based.

Chris mentioned that agents tend to look to the small presses last.

Carolina commented that more interesting work could be found by approaching authors directly.

As an aside Neil added that following his Penguin publishing deal he was taken out to lunch but didn’t get invited into the publisher’s building for a year, until he was regarded as established.

Chris talked of the dramatic explosion of authors going it alone, who see no advantage in a small press. In the early days some were earning six figure sums publishing on Kindle but the market quickly became saturated. Authors should ask what benefit an agent will offer them. Small presses are willing to collaborate in such areas as rights sales.

Elly mentioned that most authors have agents but also approach small presses themselves. She currently has 457 submissions in her inbox, despite only accepting for two weeks twice a year. She believes agents may be worthwhile if sales explode, such as if a big prize is won. She pointed out that most people who run small presses, and most writers, also have day jobs to pay the bills.

Chris suggested that writers whose work fits into a fashionable genre may benefit from an agent. He hoped that the many writing schools now in existence teach the realities of publishing, pointing out that even a Guardian review may lead to just 20 extra sales.

Neil added, and others concurred, that despite it being a writer’s dream to write full time, this may not actually be good for their art. He then asked what the wider industry could do for small presses that is not currently being done.

Elly mentioned that reviews are hugely useful, that she sees spikes in sales when reviews appear in such publications as The Sunday Times, women’s magazines or on Front Row. Neil questioned if reviews were really so important in driving sales. The consensus was that what is required is visibility. It is to do with readers spreading the word, such as happens on Twitter.

Kevin commented that this was why they started the Northern Fiction Alliance. He said that readers are looking elsewhere and are now finding the small presses.

Chris didn’t believe the trade owed small presses anything. He takes on books that have commercial potential but this is hard to call. A bookshop may order a thousand of one title while for another, that he considers fantastic, they may order only six.

Dostoyevsky Wannabe, in the audience, chipped in that they print on demand so do not need sales (although they would like them!) Chris added that Salt started in the same way. Dostoyevsky Wannabe believes agents may still be looking for books about wizards, or cookbooks.


Authors Isabel Waidner (Gaudy Bauble) and Preti Taneja (We that are young) then came to the front of the room to give talks.

Isabel spoke of what literature can do, that it can offer cultural assistance and has the potential to affect political and social change. She wishes to see the small presses offering alternative narratives to counter the prevailing conservative one. She stated that the Tory party are good at turning what they wish to become normative into stuff that resonates with people. The arts should come up with alternatives. They need to resonate with audiences not currently engaging with literature. If it remains commercial, middle class, then it excludes a huge readership who thus remain invisible. Where are the working class writers, the queer writers, writing about their subcultures? It is these writers who are featured in an anthology she has been working on recently, Liberating the Canon. There is much still to be done but it can be done. She hopes the small presses will be more willing to look at diversity and cultural innovation.

Preti talked of her experience of getting published and the prejudices she encountered as a woman of colour. Reactions to her novel, a rewriting of King Lear, suggested that what she was attempting was fantastic but that Shakespeare did not belong to someone like her, despite being British born. At one stage the agent who took her on would not submit to a publisher as they already had an unanswered submission from another British-Asian writer, as though such writers are identkit. Eventually her manuscript was hand delivered to Galley Beggar Press, at home, by the tiny Gatehouse Press who had published a novella she had written and recognised the potential of We that are young. Preti was unsure at this stage if a small press would think this work was right for them. Having published she believes that they can offer the mixing up and integration needed to move forward. Literature should be innovative, nuanced, it should be playing with ideas and making something new.

Isabel and Preti were then joined by Simon Okotie (In the Absence of Absalon), David Hayden (Darker With The Lights On) and Ben Myers (The Gallows Pole) to form an author panel.

Like Neil, Ben has been published by both large and small presses. He pointed out that the big advances paid may be for five years work so perhaps not quite as generous as first appears. He mentioned that one of his books was regarded as big but turned out to have a short shelf life. He has enjoyed the autonomy Bluemoose Books have given him, for example he chose the striking cover for Gallows Pole. Picador would never have allowed that.

David was not allowed to choose his cover! Little Island Press has an award winning ‘house style’ which permeates every aspect of their beautiful books. He has been in the book trade since 1989, working in bookshops, as a commissioning editor, a non-fiction publisher – he knows the book trade from every direction. He mentioned that one publisher he submitted to couldn’t be sure his stories would sell, and the commissioning editor is granted only one wild card choice per year. There is a fear element in acquisitions meetings. Commissioning editors can lose their jobs if the finance people are unhappy with how books perform. In talking of the potential for diversity David pointed out that across almost all literary imprints, key decision makers are white, male and privately educated.

Simon described his book as a story about a man taking a set of keys out of his pocket. His next book will have even less action. Neil commented that, like Isabel’s, Simon’s work sits on the extremes of literary fiction. Simon expressed his gratitude that his books can be published as they are very particular, stemming from his work on public transport while studying philosophy.

Neil talked of books as works of art, the author having command over their material, getting it to do whatever they want. He mentioned the longlisted book by Kevin Davey, Playing Possum, which, if written by a renowned author such as Pynchon, would have people doing PhDs on it. If the culture narrows, such books will never be published.

With so many books being published each year, Neil asked the authors if they had any sense of where British fiction is – if it is good, bad, on hold, exciting.

Preti mentioned that from visiting bookshops she noticed more translated fiction.

Ben added that the best novels he has read recently have come from the small presses, been crowdfunded, or authors have been cherry picked by the bigger publishers after a small press success. As a reviewer he is sent so many books that sometimes quality is drowned out.

David talked of all literature being contemporary as all language (writing) interacts with what has gone before. He stated that segmentation and a focus on marketability can be disheartening for readers. The book becomes a product, offered up and then forgotten.

Neil commented that when something works all the big publishers seem to desire their own version. David reminded everyone that commissioning editors are readers first but work within restrictions.

The idea of hybridity was mentioned.

Isabel believes this is improving but literature is still far too homogeneous. She wishes to see more authors working with language and form, crossing intersections, a diversity of writing and also writers.

Preti stated that she does not consider a small press to be a stepping stone to a bigger publishing house. She values the relationship built stating that such things help make the whole process more worthwhile.

Simon commented that he would like to read more books like his own. He wrote it because he couldn’t find it elsewhere. He was eager to emphasise the value of the small presses and the writers they are finding. So much interesting work is coming through.

Isabel believes that reaching readerships that aren’t yet being tapped into matters more than copies sold.

Neil reminded everyone that the RofC prize was set up to reward small presses willing to take a risk on ‘hardcore literary fiction and gorgeous prose’. The reaction to the longlist has been intense, but how many people want to read such super premium literary fiction?

Ben does not believe publishers should underestimate readers. He mentioned Eimear McBride’s A Girl Is A Half Formed Thing (first published by Galley Beggar) which has proved a cultural phenomena, sold 57,000 copies and is still much sought after.

Simon suggested this book was still recent, that we should be looking at a book such as Ulysses, its cultural impact, and what is possible.


With that Neil drew this part of the evening to a close. The packed venue (many were by now standing at the back or sitting in the aisle) decamped to another room for wine and conversation before the shortlist announcement was made.

I was pleased to have the opportunity to introduce myself to several publishers I interact with regularly on line but had not previously met – Chris had come across a poet sharing my name which caused some confusion when I introduced myself – as well as authors whose work I have reviewed. At this stage I was unsure if I should be mentioning that I was a judge given that some would, inevitably, go home disappointed by the evening’s outcome.

13 books had to be whittled down to 6. This is the more negative aspect of judging, that favourites from what was a truly outstanding list had to be selected.

The shortlist

The next stage will be to choose a winner which will be announced on 20 March at an event to be held at the University of Westminster. Another difficult decision must be made.


Book Review: The Gods of Love

This review was written for and first published by Bookmunch.

When I offered to review The Gods of Love I expected from the synopsis that it wouldn’t be the sort of book I normally read. What tempted me was the promise of the gods from Greek mythology coming to life in a contemporary setting. I was curious to see if the author could pull this off without turning them into superheroes as is done in the Marvel universe. Although the story is somewhat frothy in places, she succeeds in presenting the gods as intriguing, beguiling and suitably dispassionate given the havoc they willingly wreak on their own and the so easily manipulated mortal’s realms over millennia.

The story is told from the point of view of a young and feisty divorce lawyer, Frida McKenzie, who is smugly satisfied with her achievements and eager to further her career. Early in the story she is visited in her office by a stranger, a young man named Dan, who tells her he is an Oracle and that he has seen her in visions. Naturally Frida calls security and has him removed. Ignoring Dan’s advice she keeps an appointment with an all powerful tech company, Neostar, and thus starts her unasked-for adventure. Frida is indeed the chosen one and is required to save the world.

A big, bad tech company that can use its control over harvested data to manipulate user’s lives is an excellent cover for a vindictive god. I was less impressed by the sidekicks he used to do his dirty work. Presented as aliens it was never explained where they came from or why they were needed given there are always plenty of callous and greedy mortals readily available for such tasks.

Thus far the story is all very Matrix. Frida must call upon strengths and skills she did not know she could muster. She receives assistance from unlikely places. She must accept that mythical beings exist, that there are few she can trust, and that most are out to fulfil their own agendas by harnessing her prophesied fate.

In essence then, Frida must recover and destroy a lost arrow before the boss of Neostar can acquire it for his own nefarious ends. In order to achieve this she and Dan work together to find out where the arrow is. Frida must then face trials to retrieve the lost talisman that put her in deadly peril. Her challenging journey brought to mind the adventures Harry Potter and his chums went through, the tales of the Greek gods having inspired many such tales.

The writing style is somewhat tongue in cheek which may be why the perils didn’t come across as quite perilous enough, nor the love interest sufficiently convincing to justify its cost. Each short chapter ended with a cliff-hanger which became a tad tedious but did keep me reading. Frida’s humanity is shown to be a weakness which paves the way for a planned sequel. The plot is one of a supernatural action adventure, perhaps never intended to be taken too seriously

Any Cop?: The aspects that drew me to read the book delivered. The harnessing of the Greek myths worked well in the setting and Frida was a convincing protagonist. The story is a mostly entertaining romp with the gods providing such depth as exists. It provided a light but sufficiently engaging read.


Jackie Law


Book Review: Soviet Milk

Soviet Milk, by Nora Ikstena (translated by Margita Gailitis), is the first title in Peirene Press’s new Home In Exile series. It is set in Latvia during the years of Russian occupation, between 1969 and 1989. It chillingly depicts how ordinary lives are scarred by a regime that works to control how people think, rewarding informants and punishing those who will not conform to state sanctioned voice and behaviour.

The story is told from the points of view of two women, an unamed mother and her daughter, although just as important is a third woman, the grandmother, whose love and desire for life holds the family together. These three generations must navigate the daily challenges and hardship of enforced communism, and the mental toll cultural theft takes. The mother struggles to cope, her despair manifesting in an inability to nurture her child or appreciate what the grandmother has suffered, and continues to due to the mother’s ongoing behaviour.

“Sometimes a demonic force seemed to possess her, compelling her to destroy everything around her, especially the love of those she held dearest”

The mother was born near the end of the Second World War, her father taken by soldiers and deported when he tried to protect their home from a mindless military raid. After several years the grandmother remarried, the step-grandfather adopting his new wife’s child. The mother worked hard at school and became a doctor. She had no wish to bear her own child.

The daughter was born as Latvia was being forcibly absorbed by the USSR. Unlike the mother and grandmother she has no memories of their home nation. She is cared for by the grandmother, her mother an enigmatic, sometimes frightening, figure reeking of cigarette smoke and disinfectant.

In a country that rewards women for bearing children and expects them to put up with domestic abuse in order to maintain the facade of happy family life within an ideal communist state, the mother is an aberration. She is tolerated due to her skills as a medic, then punished when she steps beyond the bounds of accepted practice in order to help a patient. Unable to find work in her home city she moves to a country area, thereby wrenching the daughter from her beloved grandparents. Without their support both girl and woman find themselves adrift.

The daughter becomes the carer, finding ways to cope amongst peers who treat her with suspicion. Like the mother she is intelligent but suffers communism’s limitations. When a teacher introduces the daughter to texts that are not on the proscribed lists she becomes aware of the existence of wider cultural influences. The state will not tolerate such deviations from its citizens, even as it allows access to its banned history and art to segregated tourists.

Switching between the mother’s and daughter’s points of view, the reader is offered an insight into the mother’s manic and depressive episodes and the impact these have on those who care for her. Over them all hangs the shadow of a state that has imprisoned them, its mental shackles insidious and ever more malignant.

The tale is told in powerful and evocative prose that never fails to hold the reader’s attention. The narrative is spare yet elicits a depth of feeling that puts the reader into the heart of often harrowing situations. Beautifully rendered this offers a history of a time and place I had not previously considered. There is much to ponder given contemporary governments’ desire to manipulate its people’s prejudices and ability to reason.

My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Peirene Press.

Monthly Roundup – February 2018

January on my blog focused on the Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses, with just a few reviews of the books I was reading thrown in for good measure. This month saw a return to a more familiar format with a focus on new book reviews, although not all recent releases as I kept my New Year promise to myself and also plucked titles from further down my TBR pile.

These included a number of medical themed books. The announcement of the Wellcome Book Prize longlist reminded me that I still had several titles unread that I was eager to get to.

Click on the cover to find out more about the book from the publisher’s website – the links below will take you to my reviews.




I posted four book reviews originally written for other sites.




There were also original reviews of several new releases and books from my TBR pile.





I attended one book event, travelling to Manchester for

I will be posting more about the author and publisher panels and talks next week.

I posted one interview this month, with

Next month I have a number of literary outings to look forward to, including the winners event for the Republic of Consciousness Prize on the 20th. I also have more excellent books to read – thank you to the publishers who send me their titles for review.

My thanks also to those who share my words across their social media platforms. Your support is always appreciated.

Author Interview: Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir

Today I am delighted to welcome Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir to my blog. Auður is the author of five novels, a collection of poetry and four plays that have been performed at the National Theatre in Iceland and at the Reykjavik City Theatre. She also writes the lyrics for the Icelandic performance pop band Milkywhale.

Auður’s latest novel, Hotel Silence, won the Icelandic Literary Prize 2016 and was chosen Best Icelandic Novel in 2016 by booksellers in Iceland. It is published in English by Pushkin Press – you may read my review here.


1. Can you tell my readers a little about yourself and your background?

I was born and grew up in Reykjavik in a large family, the fourth of five sisters and brothers. The fourth child is sometimes considered the “invisible” one, which suited my strong need for freedom. When I was born there were 170,000 Icelanders (today there are 337,000) and they were fighting their first Cod war – over fishing rights – against the British Navy. When I was five I discovered I spoke a language that only a few people understood and decided to learn my first foreign language, chosen at random – German !

2. Can you tell us about Hotel Silence and what inspired you to write it?

Hotel Silence is a rather physical novel about man’s ability to regenerate. I’m exploring ideas of masculinity by looking into human suffering and pain. Silence is part of the healing process. My hero is a man that would rather be killed than to kill someone. I’m asking questions around the importance of doing some good in life, the fragility of the human body, how we use words and how we justify ourselves by our actions. And also whether we can do something to mend or ‘fix’ the world.

The inspiration comes from the world around us and the rest is imagination.

3. The story is set partly in a war ravaged country. What research did you do to ensure this was authentic?

War is unfortunately all around us in the world. You just have to watch the countless news reports. There are also references to world literature in the novel itself. There’s usually a certain absence of time and place in my books; nowhere means everywhere. The country is never specified but has a familiarity to it.  Even though people in the western world prefer watching their wars on TV rather than outside their windows, I tend to think: this might just as well be us.

4. Can you share with us any significant changes between first draft and last?

Yes I cut a lot between the first draft and last! Which was new for me.

I discovered that the more you have to say, the more you have to cut. The more space you have between words and between lines the more there is for the reader to put his or her meaning into. My measure of when a book is finished is whether it has become a stranger to me, as if written by someone else.

5. As well as novels you write poetry, plays and song lyrics. What is your favourite part of being a creative writer?

The feeling of absolute freedom. No one tells you what to write! Which means that I am the only one responsible – at least for my novels and poetry – and therefore the only one to blame! Regarding plays and song lyrics it’s a bit different since the outcome depends on a team effort of actors, singers and performers.

6. Do you enjoy social media?

I regularly take a break from social media in order to ease my mind and have more time to read. For instance last summer I took a three months break from all social media to be able to spend more time out in nature. The good thing was that when I returned I hadn’t missed anything!

7. What do you do when you wish to treat yourself?

I recently stopped working as an art historian and a teacher at the University of Iceland to become a full time writer. I sometimes celebrate my new life by going to cafés in Reykjavik when everyone else is working, like at ten in the morning or two in the afternoon!

8. What books have you read and enjoyed recently?

Last night I read Carson’s McCullers novella The Ballade of the Sad Café, first published in 1943 when she was only 26 years old. It’s such a wonderfully weird love story about a triangular relationship, challenging any given ideas of masculinity and femininity. One of the characters is a hunchbacked dwarf.

9. Who would you like to sit down to dinner with, real or from fiction?

Since I spend so much time with fictional people I would chose real ones. Can I have two dinners? One with Elizabeth Bishop, Carson McCullers, Iris Murdoch and Anne Sexton and another one with Margaret Atwood and Toni Morrison. I would cook for them all.

10. And finally, what question has no interviewer asked that you wish they would?

What is the meaning of your first name Audur?

It means emptiness, the state of containing nothing. Which is the origin of all creation!


Thank you so much Auður for providing such interesting answers to my questions.


Hotel Silence is published by Pushkin Press. Click on the cover above to find out more.