White Tears by Hari Kunzu

whitetearsThis is quite some novel. The quote that prefaces White Tears ends with the line ‘I didn’t know right from wrong’ and somehow the story of Seth, a recording engineer obsessed with sound, who makes his own recording equipment sensitive enough to pick up voices from the past, unfolds into a tale that brings history into the present forcing old wrongs out into the light in a way that offers no redemption. What has happened is always happening, remnants of old sound waves reverberating around us, waiting for us to tune into their frequency. Continue reading

House of Names by Colm Tóibín

HouseofNamesThe story of the fall of the house of Agamemnon that begins with the sacrifice of his daughter Iphigenia, is an old one given a new interpretation in the House of Names. The lineage of this story allows for a dramatic turn of phrase that brings blood, despair and suspicion into the language of the characters Tóibín chooses to tell the story. This makes the novel pleasingly operatic.

Clytemnestra is full of vengeful anger. She sees the world as a place deserted by the gods whose care for the affairs of men has waned, and whose influence therefore is fading too. To pray for guidance is useless; to fear acting without the favour of the gods is pathetic: the gods do not care. Continue reading

How to Be Human by Paula Cocozza

CocozzaIf you’ve ever wondered about the patterns of human relationships, the way couples move towards children and the defined domesticity of houses, gardens, socialising with friends and alcohol. If you’ve ever wondered what wildness still remains in our increasingly urban society, this might be a book for you.

How to Be Human explores the boundaries between the human, the domestic and the civilised and the animal, the untamed and the wild all within one area of East London where a cluster of houses surround a small area of wasteland some consider woodland.

In among the dumped wardrobes and mattresses grown over with blackberry bushes, surrounded by ivy-covered trees, on a small patch of land that sits between the fenced-in human gardens, lives a fox. This is his territory. He moves between the gardens and houses, the woodland, under the fences, leaving his mark, scenting what belongs to him. Continue reading