A mesmerising translation from the Italian – ‘Silk’ by Alessandro Baricco, translated by Ann Goldstein. The story of a 19th century French silk worm dealer who travels repeatedly to Japan to secure the supplies of silk worm eggs needed by the silk industry in his village – because many of the European silk worms are diseased.

The fairy tale style of writing is deceptive: the novel becomes highly erotic as it progresses. The depiction of the hero’s long journeys to and fro, and the sense of alienation when he is in the East – as well as the unattainability of the mysterious concubine – give this story a rich texture. The yearning and nostalgia are still with me, a week after I finished reading it.


Descriptive writing

It’s so important to me to bring the natural world into my writing – but so difficult to put into words what I see. I take photos all the time while I’m out walking the dog, or when we’re away on holiday (eg the pic of the blue sea along the Croatian coast, on my home page!). Then the challenge is to find the words to convey the beauty. How shall I describe the delicacy of the frost on the grass in Bushy Park? I practise and practise…Image

More foreign detectives…

I came across the Sicilian writer Leonardo Sciascia last year. His volume of novellas, ‘Sicilian Uncles’ is a highly illuminating picture of Sicilian life before, during and after World War II. Then there are his detective stories: most recently I’ve read ‘To Each His Own’. The tone is richly ironic, and the depiction of the cynicism and corruption in Sicilian – and Italian – society is entertaining, if tragic. Continue reading

Durrenmatt’s detective


What I’m Reading

Always come back to European literature in translation when I need taking out of myself…

Durrenmatt’s five novellas are wonderful entertainment. I don’t think I’ve come across many Swiss writers, but he is amusing, and self-deprecating about being Swiss. He has created a particularly endearing Inspector of police, Barlach, who outwits all his pompous critics. Continue reading

What the Dickens magazine

The 7th issue – Journey edition – is out soon, and they are going into print for the first time.

Look at a preview of the magazine on, or at WTD’s website, where you can also order a copy. It’s available at Amazon for Kindle, too.

I’m looking forward to seeing ‘Counting Chevrons’ in print!