In her interview with the novelist Jenny Offill, Hannah Rosefield encounters Offill in the process of writing her new novel. Meeting a novelist at such a point is rare: we’re used to reading a writer discussing a finished book rather than one that is still being written. Offill describes how recent political events have caused her to change, edit and update her work-in-progress, explaining: ‘I’m trying to figure out how a bookish person would try to engage with this moment in time.’
The White Review has always been a testing-ground for new work and ideas, and this issue in particular seems to catch a moment of change and sheer eventfulness, and captures writers and artists thinking through how we might respond to these times. Earlier this year, a fourteen-day strike was staged by university staff and students against cuts to pensions. Our roundtable on the university took place just after the end of the strike, and in a conversation that ranged over marketisation, workers’ rights and campus sexual harassment participants took the opportunity to reflect, discuss and debate, and to articulate thoughts-in-progress about the future of the modern university.
The idea of a multi-vocal response is not alien to Kerstin Brätsch, whose belief in community, and that many hands make a painting, is discussed in an interview with this distinctive artist, followed by a selection of her ecstatic, vibrant works. Following on from their electrifying performances in the UK at the start of the year, we’re delighted to feature an interview with poet Danez Smith, one of the most exciting new voices to emerge during a particularly fertile period in contemporary poetry.
We’re pleased to publish a portfolio of poems by Lucy Mercer, the winner of our inaugural poetry prize, which was specifically created to recognise works-in-progress, and support poets working on their first collections. The judges praised this burgeoning collection for its philosophical enquiry and range of formal experimentation in ‘poems that spoke to each other’ with sureness and authority. Alongside this is fiction by Maria Hummer, which explores love in a virtual reality world, and the strange and disturbing ‘Reunion’ by Vera Giaconi, translated by Megan McDowell. ‘Sea Monsters’ by Chloe Aridjis is the story of a young runaway to a Mexico beach in search of a troupe of Ukrainian dwarves. In this extract from a longer work, we see the beginnings of a novel taking shape.
Julia Bell’s essay ‘Really Techno’ explores the possibilities for freedom and discovery in a Berlin nightclub, while Scholastique Mukasonga traces the Rukarara river, both as a memory and a symbol, and in the physical path it takes through the landscape where she was born. Finally, Quinn Latimer begins to see and read women on fire everywhere, and in her luminous piece she thinks through what this dramatic image and metaphor might tell us about our present moment.