Times Literary Supplement



Published: 19 February 2014

A Year in Jamaica by Diana Lawes. Eliabeth Barrett Browning was the daughter of the Jamaica slave-driver and sugar baron Edward Barrett. Everything that the poet’s father owned, and all that emancipation in 1838 forced his family to give up, came from the West Indian slave trade. The underside of the slave system that brought…


Pasolini’s Roman poetry

Published: 19 November 2008

Stupendous, Miserable City by David Rhodes. It might make one in love with death?, declared Shelley, to be buried in so sweet a place. Keats, on his deathbed, hearing that daisies and anemones grew wild on the graves there, rejoiced, saying that he already felt the flowers growing over him?. They were referring to the Protestant cemetery in Rome…


The shipping news

Published: 20 December 2013

Transit by Ann Seghers.



Published: 18 October 2013

The Italian Townscape by Ivo de Wolfe.


Lamb if he was lucky

Published: 13 September 2013

Article on Primo Levi and the Italian anti-Fascist Resistance. According to his military papers, Primo Levi entered the Italian Resistance on October 1, 1943, three weeks after the German occupation of Northern Italy. He was affiliated to a Free Italy partisan “band” made up of army stragglers and a handful of Jews seeking salvation.


Mixed bloods

Sicily: A Cultural History by Joseph Farrell.


Pretty pickle

Published: 28 June 2013

The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri. Translated by J. G. Nichols.


Tycoon and youth

Published: 03 August 2007

The Birthday Party by Panos Karnezis. A doctor has been flown in to perform the abortion. Timoleon, it emerges, does not approve of the man who has made his daughter pregnant: Ian Forster, an English journalist, and his own biographer. Forster first met Sofia in 1973 in Monte Carlo…


Out of Kaos

Published: 03 August 2012

The Late Mattia Pascal by Luigi Pirandello. Pirandello was born in the Sicilian province of Girgenti (now Agrigento) in 1867. For all their outward modernity, his novels and plays were deeply rooted in Girgentine provincial life, where (according to Pirandello) “taciturn apathy, suspicious mistrust, and jealousy…


Talked into life

Published: 29 June 2012

Article on the composition of If This is a Man by Primo Levi. In February 1944 Primo Levi was deported to Auschwitz with 650 other Jews. Only 490 have since been identified: the rest are officially classed as “persons unknown” and have vanished without trace: nobody knows who they were, or where they came from.


Sweetened with blood

Published: 27 January 2012

The American Crucible by Robin Blackburn.


Grey yellows

Published: 01 July 2011

Il Fuoco nel Mare by Leonardo Sciascia.


Caste marks

Published: 13 May 2011

Wild Coast by John Gimlette.



Published: 10 September 2010

The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio. Translated by J.G.Nichols.


Dust and molasses

Published: 13 August 2010

Urban Vodou by Pablo Butcher


Green blade

Published: 09 July 2010

Syd Barrett: A Very Irregular Head by Rob Chapman.


Uneasy borders

Published: 27 November 2009

Article on Eric Ambler.


A people’s prison

Published: 03 July 2009

Il Tempo Materiale by Giogio Vasta. During the 1970s, Italy was convulsed by acts of left-wing terrorism. On March 16, 1978, the Christian Democrat leader Aldo Moro was kidnapped in Rome by members of the Red Brigades.


Shameful commerce

Published: 12 June 2009

Sweet Water and Bitter: The Ships that Stopped the Slave Trade by Sian Rees. In the eighteenth century, Britain was the world’s leading slave trader. Sugar – the end-product of British slavery – became so profitable a commodity between 1700 and…


Ska, rap , 2 Tone and doo-wop

Published: 24 April 2009

Forest Gate by Peter Akinti, and other London novels.



Published: 07 November 2008

Pynter Bender by Jacob Ross.  In his haunting (if slow-paced) novel, Pynter Bender, the Grenada-born novelist Jacob Ross filters five decades of Grenadian history through the life of a single family: the Benders. Pynter Bender, born blind to…


From a Turin window

Published: 01 June 2007

Notizie su argon: gli antenati di Primo Levi da Francesco Petrarca a Cesare Lombroso by Alberto Cavaglion. Primo Levi, who died twenty years ago, in the spring of 1987, portrayed his Italian Jewish ancestors as unworldly, scholarly…



Published: 20 April 2007

Montano by Enrique Vila-Matas. Translated by Jonathan Dunne. Enrique Vila-Matas, revered in the Spanish-speaking world as a literary trailblazer, is the sort of writer who enjoys the etymology of the word “fiction”: from the Latin fingere…


Sinister colonnades

Published: 09 February 2007

Guida letteraria di Torino GUIA LETTERARIA DI TORINO by Pier Massimo Prosio. Recently I returned to Turin for the first time since 1994; I had lived there for a couple of years while researching a book.


Mad for caffeine

Published: 19 January 2007

Selected Works by Dino Campana. Translated by Cristina Viti.  In 1950, Pier Paolo Pasolini wrote to a friend: “My future life will certainly not be that of a university professor”, explaining: “By now I have the mark of Rimbaud on me….”


Carte Blanche

Published: 15 December 2006

Carte Blanche by Carlo Lucarelli. Translated by Michael Reynolds. Carlo Lucarelli, born in Italy in 1960, borrows from Hollywood noir as well as the Sicilian thrillers of Leonardo Sciascia to create his own distinctively gritty…


Graham Greene, uneasy Catholic

Published: 22 August 2006

Article on Greene and the Tablet. In 1939 Graham Greene wrote to his brother Hugh: “A new shade of knickers and nightdresses has been named Brighton Rock by Peter Jones”, adding: “Is this fame?”. Greene was then thirty-five: Brighton Rock (1938) was his first critically acclaimed religious novel. It describes a betrayal of…


A field of death

Published: 23 June 2006

For Nothing at All by Garfield Ellis.  Garfield Ellis, who was born in Jamaica in 1960, is one of Jamaica’s most promising writers. In his third novel, For Nothing At All, he looks at the violent gun culture in the West Indian…

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