Time to go veggie? Max Barry’s “Jennifer Government”

Max Barry’s novel “Jennifer Government” (2003) is one of the best novels I have read recently. Similar in style to Huxley’s dystopian, satirical “Brave New World”, Barry’s comic exploration of modern society is full of brilliantly humorous moments and scarily possible (or probable?) predictions about the future. According to this account of the not-so-distant fate of the USA, the balance between the power of the … Continue reading Time to go veggie? Max Barry’s “Jennifer Government”

Failed visionaries?: Sebastian Faulks’s “Human Traces” (2005)

Growing up, I became used to the covers of Sebastian Faulks’ novels, which were frequently strewn over our living room coffee table, or lay on the back seat of the car during our long summer drives across Europe. The face of the “Girl at the Lion D’Or” particularly haunts my memory; the cover photographer captured that sense of “lostness”, isolation and emotional intensity which Faulks … Continue reading Failed visionaries?: Sebastian Faulks’s “Human Traces” (2005)

Come Rain or Shine: Gin and Tonic in Philip Larkin’s ‘Sympathy in White Major’ (1974)

This month the Literary Kitchen is taking an alcoholic turn: it is that time of the year when many of us would like to be outside and enjoy a perfectly cold beer or cocktail; and for me (Nico – but maybe Amy too), when that time comes, it has to be a gin and tonic. Gin and tonic was not at all a popular choice … Continue reading Come Rain or Shine: Gin and Tonic in Philip Larkin’s ‘Sympathy in White Major’ (1974)

Anyone for a take-away?: Aravind Adiga’s ‘The White Tiger’

My favourite bookshop in England is Barter Books in Alnwick, Northumberland (http://www.barterbooks.co.uk/). It is a magical emporium of second hand books, which are stashed in every nook and cranny of a converted railway station. My love for this shop may have something to do with the copy of Louis MacNeice’s poem, ‘Posterity’, emblazoned on one of the walls (!!!) and the lines from T.S. Eliot … Continue reading Anyone for a take-away?: Aravind Adiga’s ‘The White Tiger’

‘There is Always The Other Side’: Fried Plantains in Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea (1966)

Until last month, I had never been to the Caribbean. Or the Tropics. Or something that could be vaguely classified as either, except perhaps the North-East of Australia. Then, a few weeks ago I had the chance to go to one of the Canary Islands for a short holiday and its beauty struck me with the strength of a long-awaited revelation. I have to say, … Continue reading ‘There is Always The Other Side’: Fried Plantains in Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea (1966)

Revisiting Fruit Tart: ‘The Woman in Black’

Last year I wrote a blogpost about fruit tart in Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White which you can read here. Now, it’s time to retrace my footsteps with apple tart in Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black. Although the title and genre of Hill’s novel is a nod to Collins’s gothic romance, the narrative of The Woman in Black is significantly pared-back compared to … Continue reading Revisiting Fruit Tart: ‘The Woman in Black’

Frugal January: Victorian Gruel from Oliver Twist (1837)

Straight after the usual exuberance and abundance of the festive season one feels the urgency of going on some sort of detox diet, and my January has been particularly frugal. This month’s frugality has given new importance to breakfast in my daily routine and made me more creative in my re-thinking morning porridge: oats, rye flakes, quinoa, or buckwheat, are all the rage in my … Continue reading Frugal January: Victorian Gruel from Oliver Twist (1837)

‘Neither East nor West’: Chicken Tikka in Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007)

As it often happens, it is not quite the best lines of poetry that are remembered in popular culture: rather, I sometimes think, the most awkward-sounding. Kipling’s phrases ‘East is East’ and ‘West is West’ (from ‘The Ballad of East and West’, 1899) have been heavily exploited over the years. Interestingly, the former phrase seems to have inspired a lot of restaurant owners across the … Continue reading ‘Neither East nor West’: Chicken Tikka in Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007)

A Tin of Biscuits: Petit Beurres in Elizabeth Bowen’s The Last September (1929)

England has been swept by a real heat wave in the last couple of weeks; today, it seems like autumn is finally settling in – the sky has taken grey tinges, the trees are putting up their best colours, and one feels the need of putting an extra layer of clothes on, and using the oven. Today’s recipe comes from France, but is somehow linked … Continue reading A Tin of Biscuits: Petit Beurres in Elizabeth Bowen’s The Last September (1929)

Michael Longley: Lost For Words

As our Northern Irish readers will know, stoically eating ice cream in the drizzle is something of a local tradition. If drizzle is not available, then usually a heavy downpour means that ice cream can be consumed in the car. I am privileged that my parents now live within 10 minutes’ drive of a fabled ice cream shop – The Cabin in Donaghadee. It’s a … Continue reading Michael Longley: Lost For Words