Jesmyn Ward's ‘Sing, Unburied, Sing'

Book Review

November 2017

Lucy Scholes

Jesmyn Ward’s third novel returns to the same setting that served her so well in both her debut Where the Line Bleeds (2008) and the...

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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
Han Kang’s ‘The White Book’

Book Review

November 2017

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

Book Review

October 2017

Chris Kraus’s ‘After Kathy Acker’

Jennifer Hodgson

Book Review

October 2017

Acker by Kraus is a tantalising prospect. How do you go about writing a biography of an inveterate self-mythologiser,...

Art Review

October 2017

Gothenburg Biennial 2017

Kristian Vistrup Madsen

Art Review

October 2017

Secularity, the theme of this year’s Gothenburg International Biennial for Contemporary Art (GIBCA), is often imagined as something akin...

Fiction

October 2017

Cookouts

J.M. Holmes

Fiction

October 2017

My auntie Sammy had real red-velvet cake — not...

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

October 2017

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

Art Review

October 2017

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

Art Review

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...

Essay

Issue No. 20

Notes on the history of a detention centre

Felix Bazalgette

Essay

Issue No. 20

Looking back at Harmondsworth as he left, after 52...

poetry

Issue No. 8

The Cloud of Knowing

John Ashbery

poetry

Issue No. 8

There are those who would have paid that. The...

feature

September 2017

On The White Review Anthology

The Editors

feature

September 2017

Valentine’s Day 2010, Brooklyn: an intern at the Paris...

Interview

August 2017

Interview with Ottessa Moshfegh

Yen Pham

Interview

August 2017

Ottessa Moshfegh’s first two books are, as she tells...

Lengths

fiction

August 2017

Matthew Perkins

fiction

August 2017

1   I sat at the kitchen table while Valentine prepared cups of flowery, smoky loose leaf tea. Antoine held his in both hands...

poetry

August 2017

From The Dolphin House

Richard O’Brien

poetry

August 2017

Note for the following three poems: In 1965, a bottlenose dolphin christened Peter was the subject of a scientific...

Art

August 2017

Becoming Alice Neel

Rosanna Mclaughlin

Art

August 2017

From the first time I saw Alice Neel’s portraits, I wanted to see the world as she did. Neel...

feature

August 2017

What Makes A Gallery Programme?

Pac Pobric

feature

August 2017

Of his art dealer, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, Pablo Picasso once...

poetry

Issue No. 20

Two Poems

Nisha Ramayya

poetry

Issue No. 20

JOY OF THE EYES   The future is not...

feature

Issue No. 20

Editorial

The Editors

feature

Issue No. 20

    As a bookish schoolchild in Galilee, the...

Interview

Issue No. 20

Interview with Anne Carson

Željka Marošević

Interview

Issue No. 20

Throughout her prolific career as a poet and a translator,...

feature

Issue No. 20

From a Cuban Notebook

J. S. Tennant

feature

Issue No. 20

Beneath the rain, beneath the smell, beneath all that...

poetry

June 2017

Austrian Murder Case

Phoebe Power

poetry

June 2017

At the Konditorei   Close, warm, and humming with the relaxed sounds of post- midday Kaffee-Kuchen. The  cakes are...

fiction

June 2017

Turksib

Lutz Seiler

TR. Alexander Booth

fiction

June 2017

The jolts of the tracks were stronger now and...

fiction

June 2017

Ferocity

Nicola Lagioia

TR. Antony Shugaar

fiction

June 2017

A pale three-quarter moon lit up the state highway...

Interview

June 2017

Interview with Elif Batuman

Yen Pham

Interview

June 2017

Elif Batuman never intended to become a non-fiction writer....

feature

June 2017

The Cursed Videotape

Fabien Clouette

Quentin Leclerc

TR. Jeffrey Zuckerman

feature

June 2017

Avant-propos: Jimmy Arrow was a porn film director we...

Oberhausen Film Festival

feature

June 2017

Tom Overton

feature

June 2017

Such film festivals – those extraordinary clusters of images, transports of light, of virtual worlds scattered across a real geography – pale in scale...

fiction

May 2017

Gloria

Aaron Peck

fiction

May 2017

Bernard, whenever he thought of Geoffrey, would remember his gait on the afternoon of their first meeting. Geoffrey walked...

feature

May 2017

The Pilgrims

Rachel Aydt

feature

May 2017

ST. JOAN The great actress Renée Jeanne Falconetti stands trial for heresy, a woeful story told with her eyes...

Two Poems

poetry

May 2017

Vala Thorodds

poetry

May 2017

THROUGH FLIGHT   For a moment we are borne into the air and then down.   It is there, behind everything.   On the corner...