: what we’re reading

poetry, poetry + more poetry!

Improvised Explosive Device, Arji Manuelpillai The poems in Improvised Explosive Device emerged through research + interviews with academics, sociologists, +former members of extremist groups and their families. These complex, unnerving texts ask a series of important questions. What drives a person to commit a radical act of violence? How is that violence mediated through screens and social media? And how does the British government police marginalised groups? Improvised Explosive Device is a brave, surprising and risk-taking book; it will change the way you look at the world.

MANORISM, Yomi Sode – In poems exploring family, survival, generational trauma, and the complexities of belonging, ‘Manorism’ is an examination of the lives of Black British men and boys. At the heart of the book is the ongoing pressure of code-switching – changing one’s behaviour and language to suit radically different cultural contexts and environments.

Lea says: “Raw, gorgeous language full of fury + justifiable anger. This is something to savour + learn from!”

domestic (de)constructions

Living Rooms, Sam Johnson-Schlee – ‘Living Rooms’ invites readers to consider the dreams and fantasies we have about our homes, and their underlying economic reality. Through an examination of a series of familiar house hold objects, it provides the blueprint for a utopian idea of the home, one that is made to cultivate and nourish life rather than seeing it as a threat to financial value

Nayya says: “A generous book that traverses literary-critical-historical with a seamless ease. This is an elegantly constructed, gorgeously ornate wander into the lives of most who are subjected to the precarity + tumult of living subject to the whims + violations of landlords, private property, capitalism.”

SMALL FIRES, Rebecca May Johnson Johnson marshals social criticism, memoir and reflections on literature + film to explore what might be gained from taking the kitchen seriously. In chapters of lively intellectual enquiry, Johnson brings theory and art into everyday life, and into the kitchen. Evading binaries between abstract intellect and bodily pleasure, domesticity and politics, she awakens us to the richness of cooking as a way of experiencing the self and the world.

Nayya says: “Read this book! Invigorating! Provocative! Truly generative! Small Fires is a suggestive essay that takes cooking seriously – the labour, the politics, the pleasure, the precision + the feelings! A book we truly needed!”

Abolish the Family, Sophie Lewis –  What if family were not the only place you might hope to feel safe, loved, cared for and accepted?

Nayya says: “For those who are tightly girded by the family structure – this book will open you up to the ‘nature’ of its construction, coercion and capital-guarding. The most delicious part of ATF is the realisation that we can build our relations anew so that they are no longer anchored by possession + property. Children are an oppressed people and the family does us a lot of harm!”

stories to lose yourself in

STREGA, Johanne Lykke Holm, transl. by Saskia Vogel– Rafa arrives at the remote Alpine town of Strega to work at the grand Olympic Hotel. There, she and eight other girls are taught to iron, cook, and make the beds by austere matrons. But when the hotel suddenly fills with people for a raucous party, one of the girls disappears. What follows are deeper revelations about the myths young women are told, what they are raised to expect from the world, the violence they are made to endure, and, ultimately, the question of whether a gentler, more beautiful life is possible.

Lea says: “This beautifully vibrant, threatening + sensual novel reads like a fever dream. A hauntingly lyrical story with vivid imaginary + slowly blurring lines. It’s not just about creeping paranoia, but also about gender stereotypes + femicide.”

Losing The Plot, Derek Owusu – Driven by a deep-seated desire to understand his mother’s life before he was born, Derek Owusu offers a powerful imagining of her journey. As she moves from Ghana to the UK and navigates parenthood in a strange and often lonely environment, the effects of displacement are felt across generations. Told through the eyes of both mother and son, ‘Losing the Plot’ is at once emotionally raw and playful as Owusu experiments with form to piece together the immigrant experience and explore how the stories we share and tell ourselves are just as vital as the ones we don’t.

Lea says: “A beautiful consuming hybrid of poetry + prose. Such a heartfelt, stunning + incredibly clever collection!”

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles, Haruki Murakami – Okada is apparently a happy man – his domestic life seems familiar and comfortable, but admittedly he has just quit his job, the cat has disappeared and a strange woman is bothering him with explicit phone calls.

Jack says: “It’s no secret that I love Murakami, I literally wear t-shirts with his name on. But for some reason I’d never read Wind-Up Bird until now, maybe because it’s so dense! However, I’m utterly captivated, I’m glad it’s so long because that means I get to read it for longer. Weird, dark, classic Murakami!”