Universal Access   I have only ever lived among pollution Tell me it is not the sky I look at but an irradiated blanket, pitched between my street lamps and the real sky To that I say the real sky is immaterial, an idea cast too far back into the dark to matter My pollutions define me   As a child I favoured invented worlds, populated by tribes with kaleidoscopic cultures, another one always over the mountain ridge Today, in the city, the promise of a never spent or perfected flux is all that keeps me here The new thing ever opening Frontiers of the affordable and good   I am stranded in the middle of Moby Dick: p 274 out of 509 The Pequod, after listing in the South Pacific, has embarked upon its first ‘cutting in’, the process of safely flaying a whale of its blubber, which requires the whole crew to heave a hook-fed rope through the blowhole until everything gives at once, for the blubber envelopes the whale precisely as the rind does an orange   Part of me would sooner stay here There is too much to read Far from a complaint, this is only to state the necessary obverse of infinity’s appeal Were we to know that our present book was the last we were yet to read, its conclusion would be intolerable Heaven, then, must be to choose a fixed point, knowing the brawl of infinite, receding options, as if slipping into a particular chair while rain hammers on the skylight Here I can dip my fingers in the dripping hide   Through my browser I watch a documentary, free of charge, about a church repurposed as a data centre where a record of every web page is collected through time Truly, there is a holiness in this: shades of God’s forensic love for hair and sand As well as sites they preserve books scanned by human hand, so that Melville’s relishing and fretful bulk can expand along its ultimate democratic tangent to take its place beside the novel’s Wiki page, as captured on almost every day of its existence   A great wall:

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Brian Blanchfield's ‘Proxies: A Memoir in Twenty-four Attempts’

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Claire Lowdon

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‘Before we met,’ writes Maggie Nelson to her lover Harry Dodge, the addressee of The Argonauts, ‘I had spent a lifetime devoted to Wittgenstein’s idea that the...

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The Necessary Changes Have Been Made

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Though he had theretofore resisted the diminutive form of his name, in his new office, Randolph felt, for the...

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Navine G. Khan-Dossos, Echo Chamber

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A lattice of diamonds and crosses, painted onto a 21-metre long wall at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, scatters...

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M. John Harrison's 'You Should Come With Me Now'

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In a 2012 interview with the Guardian, M. John Harrison...

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November 2017

The White Review Poet's Prize 2017 Shortlist

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We are delighted to announce the shortlist for The...

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Hannah Black, Some Context

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On the cover of the 1985 Pelican edition of...

BROOD   after Goya’s Pinturas Negras   Saturn never expected to devour his children,   his fingertips digging into their ribs, light   -headed Didn’t start out weeping, or sense   as he hid in his winter bath on that murky morning   up to his eyes gazing over   the loosely level surface that healed   its holes as his knees withdrew And he didn’t   remember it later that night, even after   he found dried blood in his nails The steady rush   was all he recalled, a creek after rain, a head slumping   forward, a riddle resolved One son he had raised   to the light like a t-shirt he’d worn   every day for weeks on end for a band   he could no longer stand             GROUNDED   if                                                                                                                                   then they                                                                                                                            climb nod off                                                                                                                your roof as static                                                                                                          hail a cloud drowns the anchor’s voice     

Poetry

November 2017

Three Poems

Eric Berlin

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November 2017

BROOD   after Goya’s Pinturas Negras   Saturn never expected to devour his children,   his fingertips digging into...

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Jesmyn Ward's ‘Sing, Unburied, Sing'

Lucy Scholes

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November 2017

Jesmyn Ward’s third novel returns to the same setting...

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November 2017

Doclisboa Film Festival

Mitch Speed

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November 2017

Maybe it’s true that sophisticated cinema has perished, as Hollywood alpha-males Ridley Scott and Martin Scorsese recently opined. If...

Feature

November 2017

Small White Monkeys

Sophie Collins

Feature

November 2017

Small white monkeys stretch around in the dirt beneath...

The White Book feels as if it is being whispered: each paragraph seems to come from some deep and interior place Han Kang wrote it whilst living in Warsaw, though in the book the city is never named explicitly Instead it is only a white city, white for its snow and white for its stone ruins In an interview with Granta, Kang said that when writing this book, she imagined her prematurely dead sister had lived and visited the city ‘in my place’   Photographs are interspersed throughout In some, a woman appears, her face obscured by shadow In others, only her hands are visible She holds a child’s gown She holds a pebble-like object covered in salt The photographs are of white objects, but in contrast to the white pages, they are startlingly grey The specks and splashes of whiteness are surrounded by shadow The woman seems trapped in darkness Who is this woman supposed to represent? The narrator? The ghost of the sister? The novelist Kang? All or none of the above?  The literal answer is that they are photographs of a performance by Kang, shot by the photographer Choi Jinhyuk But within the pages, they seem to carry the spirit of characters — and the novelist herself   The text is a loose collection of thoughts, scenes, and images Few are longer than a page They are gathered into three sections — ‘I’, ‘She’, and ‘All Whiteness’ ‘I’ follows the narrator considering the colour white and describes her sister’s passing ‘She’ imagines the sister’s life Some subsections describe what the sister might have done—having an X-ray, finding a pebble, attempting to befriend a dog Others contemplate white things—seagulls, a dead butterfly, a lace curtain   Both ‘I’ and ‘She’ are pensive and slightly sorrowful At first, this similarity is disorienting: it is hard to see where one perspective ends and the other begins Slowly, the reader realises that this muddling is the point The concern of the narrator is not whether the sister would have been a vastly different person, but what it means to replace one life with another Her mother would not have

Book Review

November 2017

Han Kang’s ‘The White Book’

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

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November 2017

The White Book feels as if it is being whispered: each paragraph seems to come from some deep and...

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October 2017

Chris Kraus’s ‘After Kathy Acker’

Jennifer Hodgson

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October 2017

Acker by Kraus is a tantalising prospect. How do...

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Gothenburg Biennial 2017

Kristian Vistrup Madsen

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October 2017

Secularity, the theme of this year’s Gothenburg International Biennial...

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Fiction

October 2017

J.M. Holmes

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October 2017

My auntie Sammy had real red-velvet cake — not that she had the time to make it, bread-winning at Glaxo-Smith-Kline while my uncle Eddy...
The characters in We That Are Young reside at ‘The Farm’ – a sprawling house in New Delhi complete with its own topiary of fat peacocks, bulbous pink flowers with English names, Fendi furniture, and a room in which it snows at the press of a button It’s not far removed from reality – Antilla, the world’s first billion-dollar residence for a single family of four, is a 40-storey building that towers over the suburbs of South Mumbai, replete with a staff of over 600 people, its own electrical power grid, ten-storey parking for a collection of unusable vintage cars, and a room, of course, where it snows on demand In dialogue with Shakespeare’s King Lear, Taneja’s debut novel explores the lives of a family that owns a multinational conglomerate, ‘The Company’, to which each character’s fate (and inheritance) is inextricably tied We have our patriarch, the Lear figure, Devraj; his three daughters Sita, Radha and Gargi; and his right-hand man Ranjit’s two sons, Jeet and Jivan The embarrassment of riches makes for an irresistible, if outlandish, setting; Taneja vividly indulges our intrigue in the way the rich conduct their daily lives, letting her words ooze out their luxury – filthy, yet so desirable After a particularly gruesome scene in which Radha administers the plucking out of a man’s eyes, she steps back into her suite and calls for a pot of first flush Assam, and rose macaroons   A reinterpretation of Shakespeare is the perfect postcolonial conquest: he remains the epitome of the Western canon, patriarchal, and repeatedly failing to include representations of the ‘other’ without recourse to parody Mainstream appropriations of Shakespeare in South Asia, such as Bollywood filmmaker Vishal Bharadwaj’s trilogy Maqbool (Macbeth), Omkara (Othello), and Haider (Hamlet), have generally taken us to rural settings, wherein tragedy is relegated to a matter of the lower castes Taneja, a Shakespearean academic and human rights activist, eschews such stereotypes, and goes straight for the jugular: the innate hypocrisy of the Indian class and caste system ‘It’s not about land, it’s about money,’ states the first line of the book, taking

Book Review

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Preti Taneja’s ‘We That Are Young’

Skye Arundhati Thomas

Book Review

October 2017

The characters in We That Are Young reside at ‘The Farm’ – a sprawling house in New Delhi complete...

Proposition: The limits of our social imaginaries mean the limits of our worlds   1 Perhaps new forms of being require new forms of relationship   11 What is being anyway but gesturing towards an indefinite assembly of unknowable qualities & quantities   12 Categories of being are obstructive & injurious both to those who touch the social imaginary & those who don’t   13 Categories of literature are obstructive & injurious both to those who read it & those who write it   14 Concepts like ‘genre’ & ‘style’ are made-up words   15 Concepts like ‘female’ & ‘male’ are made-up words   16 New forms of being require new forms of thought, such as “that the distinctions between the beautiful and ugly, if made at all, [be] made arbitrarily”[1]   17 I have finally been turned on in the sense that “[i]f one of my works were to be turned on it would destroy itself”[2]   18 Perhaps the attempt to acquire reality through anti-illustrational action is the only meaningful endeavour   19 Francis Bacon says of Rembrandt’s Self-Portrait (c1659):   If you analyse it, you will see that there are hardly any sockets to the eyes, that it is almost completely anti-illustrational I think that the mystery of fact is conveyed by an image being made out of non-rational marks[3]   110 Perhaps belief in the necessity of sacrifice is the utmost achievement for all people at all times    111 Gabrielle Civil says:   Art of all kinds is not just the practice of making, it’s the practice of being in the world a certain way It’s a certain susceptibility, and it’s also sacrifice – the offering up of everything with only a few strings attached[4]   112 Perhaps being arrives through a sustained engagement with the act of thinking as embodied practice   113 If being requires a theatre of the social imaginary do we, the audience, bear responsibility for being’s staging   114 If gender is a “variable cultural interpretation of sex” perhaps our facility to intervene in gender’s [being’s] context(s) is likewise mutable & indefinite[5]   115 What is the difference between you & the thing that eats you – is it the fact

Poetry

October 2017

Three Poems

Amy McCauley

Poetry

October 2017

Proposition: The limits of our social imaginaries mean the limits of our worlds   1. Perhaps new forms of...

Art Review

October 2017

Juliana Huxtable, PNI

Isobel Harbison

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October 2017

‘IN SUNLIGHT I WAS PLASTICINE PERFORMANCE’, Juliana Huxtable wrote...

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October 2017

Eleanor Antin, Romans & Kings

Daniel Culpan

Art Review

October 2017

For the past five decades, feminist conceptual artist Eleanor...

Little can prepare you for the experience of reading Renee Gladman’s Ravickian quartet and encountering the oddity, humour, and singular intelligence of her mind Gladman began writing the series in 2003, drawing on a private language she had invented with a friend The linguistic game developed and eventually gave birth to Ravicka — a fictional city-state with an absurd, charming, and troubled local population   I want to state from the outset that these novels remind me of little else I have encountered in contemporary literature Ravicka has textual predecessors — Gladman overtly nods to Samuel Beckett, Anne Carson, and Julio Cortázar — but immersion in Ravicka feels, somehow, more like watching contemporary dance or experimental film than reading a novel Absurdity abounds, non-sequitur is employed liberally, and syntax seems more significant than setting or plot Nonetheless — and herein lies Gladman’s achievement — these novels are provocative and profound   To date, four of Gladman’s ten published works are set in Ravicka  The experimental collection of essays Calamities (2016) and a new monograph of Gladman’s drawings, Prose Architectures (2017),  complement the Ravicka project, but her first novel, Event Factory (2010), remains the best port of entry into this extraordinary city ‘From the sky there was no sign of Ravicka Yet, I arrived; I met many people The city was large, yellow, and tender,’ writes the unnamed protagonist, a linguist who arrives in Ravicka when her plane fails to depart after a layover The only novel in the series told from the perspective of a visitor from outside, Event Factory offers an introduction to Ravicka’s foreign culture and strange landscape, where Earth’s physical laws are either suspended or queered   Mostly, the novels offer the mere suggestion of a plot The Ravickians, the second in the series, ostensibly tells the story of a famous novelist trying to cross the city to attend her friend’s poetry reading But it is more a meditation on the impossibility of translation — a fugue-like discourse on community, longing, poetics and friendship taking place on moving trains and in fields, and closing with twelve fractious chapters of polyvocal conversations, taking

Book Review

October 2017

Renee Gladman’s ‘Houses of Ravicka’

Phoebe Clarke

Book Review

October 2017

Little can prepare you for the experience of reading Renee Gladman’s Ravickian quartet and encountering the oddity, humour, and...

Prize Entry

November 2017

Dream Houses

Lucy Mercer

Prize Entry

November 2017

I forget       some days in Helepolis –  chapelles          of blue peaches  ...

fulljustify {text-align: justify !important; max-width:400px !important; line-height:08rem !important; }fulljustify:after { content: “”;display: inline-block;width: 100%; } The work takes her to Amsterdam, LA & Seoul Or else, it’s work in the studio with the old toilet bowls stuffed with soil and seedlings, cold light streaks each morning early, the school playground crashing up next door A recurrent cat It’s true she works most days, the routine becoming normality, just work This, her office, her desk Here’s the most recent, what she’s been working on for weeks now – months? – existing before it’s itself, bleeding paint So, how does it work, then – I mean, physicalities, substance shift, where daily work turns to more than just that? The brush pots, clippings, tinted tea mugs, dead colour worked into wall creases, packages marked ‘sold’ stacked by thick catalogues webbed in dust; out of, I’d almost call it junk, the whole works, it is made – the work
Work Study

Prize Entry

November 2017

Lavinia Singer

In memory of Sandra Bland and Philando Castile   #1   Remember back in the heft of 2001? 7,227 items were delivered   to an old C&A in Oxford St – Landy sets up   a conveyor belt industrial shredders drills, saws clawhammers the violence of it and in them he puts his jeans his socks old shirts a stuffed toy bear family photos his car artworks his passport   he becomes       unidentitied              un-thinged   by white-gloved handlers   who place his belongings              gently into the shredder   or throw them into the trash compactor, joking              as if they’re on a production line   and they are, in fact, on a production line,              and then he is mediated by blades   and then, when he is              six tonnes of rubbish   it’s as if he has never              lived   all he can feel is his body his blue overalls   shock of cold air              on his neck   his eyes open his mother’s disappointment his father’s sheepskin jacket                           gone how could he he did afterwards,              his scalp is a buzz-cut tingle   his feet are holograms              he has never felt such who is the self where is he he is there and he is not there he is disappearing              the way men are always disappearing   in novels, and in pregnancies and here, in the gallery a man looks into his own life from outside dissolving – He makes a book              lists all the things                           300 pages a life he exhibits                           words

Prize Entry

November 2017

Breakdown

Seraphima Kennedy

Prize Entry

November 2017

In memory of Sandra Bland and Philando Castile   #1   Remember back in the heft of 2001? 7,227...

The White Review Poet's Prize

News

November 2017

News

November 2017

Please join us to celebrate the winner of our inaugural Poet’s Prize at Burley Fisher Books on Thursday 7 December. The event starts at 7 p.m.   Supported by Jerwood...