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Martin Eve on William Gaddis’s JR

Martin Eve on William Gaddis’s JR I am currently re-reading William Gaddis‘s monstrous 1975 novel, JR. While this is a book that defies easy plot summary, one of the central strands of the text concerns the eponymous eleven-year-old schoolboy, J. R. Vansant, and his adept manipulation

Roger Luckhurst on Basma Abdel Aziz, The Queue

Roger Luckhurst on Basma Abdel Aziz, The Queue  Dystopian fiction pours off the presses in such volume that the apocalyptic vision has become codified and oddly routine. It’s the end of the world as we know it and we feel fine. But for all the

Joseph Brooker on Ghostbusters (2016)

What is a ghost? Stephen said with tingling energy. One who has faded into impalpability through death, through absence, through change of manners. James Joyce, Ulysses Ghostbusters (1984) came from nowhere when I was a boy: a blockbuster whose scenario didn’t seem to resemble anything that

Joseph Brooker on Graham Swift, Mothering Sunday

Joseph Brooker on Graham Swift, Mothering Sunday Mothering Sunday (2016) is Graham Swift’s tenth novel, if an 132-page novella counts. This is a kind of historical fiction, centring on one day: Mothering Sunday, March 30th 1924.  For the novella’s purposes the significance of the holiday

Alison Finlay on Cnut Conference 2016

Prof. Alison Finlay on Cnut Conference, London 2016 As academics meet their overseas counterparts over the summer conference season, wry comments about Europe and its constituent parts, back-stabbing and betrayal among rulers, regime change and political upheaval will have been woven into many a conference

Mark Blacklock on Roly Porter at Corsica Studios

Mark Blacklock on Roly Porter at Corsica Studios Two months ago I saw Roly Porter at Corsica Studios. I first heard Porter’s work when he was recording as one half of Vexd, a duo operating in the noisier, more adrenalized end of the dubstep spectrum,

Martin Eve on Hermann Hesse, The Glass Bead Game.

Martin Eve on Hermann Hesse, The Glass Bead Game This week, I’ve been reading Hermann Hesse’s final novel, The Glass Bead Game [1943; in translation to English], which I am ashamed to say that I had not read before (we’re all learning). Set in an unspecified

Joseph Brooker on reading the New Left Review

Joseph Brooker on reading the New Left Review. The New Left Review is a journal of leftist thought founded in the early 1960s. In 2000 it relaunched with a slightly different look – glossy, sleek, elegant, but still uniquely rigorous and austere. Not only does it

About us

This blog is about what the academic staff of the Department of English & Humanities at Birkbeck are reading, watching, thinking about. We will offer short reviews of what’s currently on our radar, from medieval studies to performance studies, from medical humanities to creative writing.