Mailing List


Rowan Hisayo Buchanan
Rowan Hisayo Buchanan is the author of Harmless Like You and Starling DaysShe is the winner of The Authors’ Club First Novel Award and a Betty Trask Award. Her work has been a New York Times Editors’ Choice, an NPR 2017 Great Read and shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award. She is the editor of the Go Home! anthology.

Articles Available Online


Cathy Park Hong’s ‘Minor Feelings’

Book Review

April 2020

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

Book Review

April 2020

Before beginning Minor Feelings, A Reckoning on Race and the Asian Condition, an essay collection by the poet Cathy Park Hong, I sat with...
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

Book Review

November 2017

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

Walter Benjamin said of Kafka that his work dealt in ‘the purity and beauty of a failure’ That ‘once he was certain of eventual failure, everything worked out for him en route as in a dream’ Wresting the Czech novelist from the critics who had variously lumped him into one of two camps – the psychoanalytic or the mystical – Benjamin was keen to assert the far more prosaic origins of Kafka’s absurdity: the ultimate fallibility and smallness of man that ultimately renders all fleeting and often fortuitous achievements, funny   What Kafka dealt with from an almost metaphysical perspective, became the subject of latter-day comics dealing in the far more kitchen-sink enactments of this same scenario – the petty anxieties of the Petit Bourgeois This was the social strata rendered humourless by the bald ambition and anxiety that attends climbing the social ladder, becoming an easy target of ridicule along the way Kafka is the Paul Klee to Tony Hancock’s John Bratby, but the state embodied by both, the sense of wry detachment, and sense of alienation from the systems of governance and bureaucracy that ultimately decide one’s fate, also continued the experience of childhood I have often marvelled at the ways in which our society maintains the idea that adulthood should constitute the discarding of such scepticism, to me, insisting on a form of delusional and uncritical conformity The childish amongst us, of which a large concentration seem to exist in the fields of artistic expression and academia, are those who have not yet ceded to the forces of economic one-up-manship, who no different to how we were when we were five, see much of the world as constituting a mystery of jargon and dumb stress   I have long been interested in the psychic impacts of social mobility The orphan state it creates in the winners, and the anguish left for everyone else This state of detachment from bureaucratic forces, the imperviousness to success and failure that I describe here, ought to be the experience of childhood And yet I wonder whether it was a prelapsarian state cut short for

Contributor

June 2016

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

Contributor

June 2016

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan is the author of Harmless Like You and Starling Days. She is the winner of The Authors’ Club First Novel...

The Giving Up Game

fiction

December 2016

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

fiction

December 2016

The peculiar thing was that Astrid appeared exactly as she did on screen. She was neither taller nor shorter. Her smile had the same...
Harmless Like You

fiction

Issue No. 17

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

fiction

Issue No. 17

Interstate 95, September 2016   Celeste sat on the front seat wearing her black turtleneck sweater. She had three sweaters: black, blue, and festive....

READ NEXT

Interview

Issue No. 7

Interview with Keston Sutherland

Natalie Ferris

Interview

Issue No. 7

Said by the New Statesman to be ‘at the forefront of the experimental movement in contemporary British poetry’, Keston...

Interview

Issue No. 17

Interview with George Saunders

Aidan Ryan

Interview

Issue No. 17

The American short story writer George Saunders has the kind of reputation that makes one hesitate before typing his...

poetry

Issue No. 11

Poems from [---] Placeholder

Rob Halpern

poetry

Issue No. 11

Obscene Intimacy My soldier was found unresponsive restrained In his cell death being due to blunt force injuries To...

 

Get our newsletter

 

* indicates required