A stunning pamphlet by poet Mark Pajak

Spitting Distance is a Laureate’s Choice pamphlet from 2016 that I bought after hearing the poet read at an event in Bristol last year. From the moment he finished reading the first stanza of his first poem, I knew it would be special due to the concision of the language and the way in which…

Olivia Laing’s To the River – A Midsummer meander

Laing’s To the River is a travelogue of sorts as the writer sets out on a midsummer morning to walk the banks of the River Ouse from source to sea. Peppered with memories of a failed relationship, this is a journey through memory, not just hers but those of Leonard and Virginia Woolf, whose diaries…

Underland by Robert MacFarlane – a fascinating passage into the underworlds.

Described by the Guardian as” A dazzling journey into deep time” this is a story about the worlds underground, which seems naturally more sinister in tone than his other books – perhaps because of the connotations with death, Hades and the spectres that haunt the underworld. It delves deep, both physically and metaphorically. This is…

Yiyun Li, ‘A Thousand Years of Good Prayers’

In this collection of short stories, Li examines the reality of daily life in modern China, opening our eyes to a world where society is trying to balance the weight of tradition with the fast pace of modern life. In ‘Extra’, a lonely middle-aged woman finds herself abandoned in a wilderness of strangers, dehumanised and…

Parallax, Sinead Morrissey

Morrissey’s T.S.Eliot Prize-winning fifth collection is defined by the poet at the outset as Parallax (Astron.) Apparent displacement, or difference in the apparent position, of an object, caused by actual change (or difference) of position of the point of observation. It’s a collection about perception and paradoxes, opening with 1801, inspired by Dorothy Wordsworth’s ‘The Grasmere…