A few issues back we grandiosely stated ‘that it is more important now than ever to provide a forum for expression and debate’. This edition of The White Review goes further than its predecessors in this respect. Come late April, the first recipient of The White Review Short Story Prize will be unveiled. Despite the number of stories still to read (it is early March, at time of writing), it is already clear that the prize has fulfilled its primary function, a forceful demonstration of the vitality of literary culture in Britain and Ireland.
This culture, and the oft-mooted notion of its decline, is the subject of a timely essay – weeks before Granta announces its 2013 Best of Young British Novelists’ list – by Jennifer Hodgson and Patricia Waugh. ‘Whatever happened to the British novel?’ they ask, arguing for an alternative postwar British literary canon, and identifying the current ‘British literary establishment’ as ‘the perfect pricks, so to speak, to kick against’.
Also, provocatively, in this issue: a Guardian reader critiques its opinion pages; and Keston Sutherland, interviewed, asserts the ability of radical poetry to effect the ‘fundamental transformation of human life’. Really touchy readers might even take exception to Lawrence Lek’s wonderfully esoteric take on the Shard, ‘the last building of the twentieth century’.
Those habitually drawn to The White Review for fiction, art or poetry should not shun us in favour of less essayistic climes. This issue sees us renewing our commitment to fiction and poetry in translation – with new work by Edouard Levé (conceptual art meets Oulipo), Peter Stamm and the venerable Yves Bonnefoy – and to new writers such as Jesse Loncraine. Luc Tuymans and John Stezaker, finally, complete our trio of interviews, artworlds apart, diametrically opposed in their conceptions of the artistic process. Both contribute a series of images, as does artist-photographer Talia Chetrit. If pressed, we might say this was our best issue yet. We hope you agree.