At the close of this issue’s interview with Elad Lassry, who has also provided us with
a new artwork for our cover, the artist considers the proposition that ‘everything is art’.
Lassry admits he finds this viewpoint challenging. ‘Trees, deserts, oceans are phenomena,’
he argues. ‘Art is the decision.’
Many of the writers in issue 26 choose a decisive and critical position from which to work, challenging the political situations they see unfolding around them. An extract from Shumona Sinha’s searing novel Let’s Knock Out the Poor is a reckoning with France’s treatment of migrants and asylum seekers based on the author’s own experience of working in an immigration centre; when the book was published in France in 2011, Sinha lost her job. Juliana Delgado Lopera’s groundbreaking Fiebre Tropical is written entirely in Spanglish. In its inventive and heady mixture of Spanish and English, Lopera captures a Colombian teen’s arrival to Miami and uses language as a political tool to show how inextricably entwined the cultures of Latin America and the United States are. We’re also delighted to publish the winner of this year’s White Review Short Story Prize. Vanessa Onwuemezi’s story ‘At the Heart of Things’ is a visceral journey into interiority and dreams. Formally daring and linguistically metamorphic, it is a worthy winner of a prize established to explore and expand the possibilities of the form.
Elsewhere, Khairani Barokka experiments with a hybrid of criticism and poetry by re-examining the figure in Paul Gauguin’s famous portrait Annah La Javanaise through the intersecting lens of race and disability, before imagining new poetic futures for them. The psychoanalyst and writer Nuar Alsadir continues the theme of radical reinterpretation by applying Donald Winnicott’s theory of the ‘True Self’ to mothering, writing and Anna Karenina. Anwen Crawford’s ‘All Circles Vanish’ is an elegy to a lost friend and a deeply personal meditation on art-making and resistance – a resistance embedded within its unconventional form.
We are excited to present an interview with the American scholar Saidiya Hartman. Victoria Adukwei Bulley met her in London shortly before the publication of her newest and most ambitious book Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments. Hartman discusses how she started out wanting ‘to be a witness’: she has achieved this through her work in the archives, piecing together black histories through a technique she terms ‘critical fabulation’. Tessa Hadley is one of the finest and most consistently satisfying British writers at work today; she talks to Sophie Collins about finding success late in life, and the difference between intellectual and emotional authority.
The artists Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings contribute a series of photographs and drawings documenting LGBTQ+ social spaces around Britain, many of which are under threat of closure. As with all the writers and artists in this issue, critique is built into their perspective. Across these pieces, we sense a determination not only to replicate the world, but to render its complexity, violence and grief.