Reviews
The Manchester Review

MLF 2019: Booker Prize Shortlist, with Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, Martin Harris Centre, 11/10/19, reviewed by Georgia Way

“The suffering of the novelist”: 2019 Booker Prize Shortlist Bernardine Evaristo, Lucy Ellmann & Chigozie Obioma in conversation with Ellah Wakatama Allfrey 11th October 2019, Martin Harris Centre An evening with three of the Booker Prize nominees – Bernardine Evaristo (Girl, Woman, Other), Lucy Ellmann (Ducks, Newburyport) and Chigozie Obioma (An Orchestra of Minorities) – […]

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The Manchester Review

Two Memoirs:  Moby, Then It Fell Apart (Faber and Faber, £14.99), and Patti Smith, Year of the Monkey (Bloomsbury, £12.99), reviewed by Richard Clegg

Moby and Patti Smith represent two distinct generations of American music. Moby is one of the leading creators of popular electronic dance music. His breakthrough album Play became the soundtrack for films, and many adverts. His videos have the vitality of Eminem’s and some of their dark humour about aging and death. Although he has […]

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The Manchester Review

Cork International Short Story Festival 2019 (25 – 28 September), reviewed by Phil Olsen

A Partial Diary of the Cork International Short Story Festival 2019 (25 – 28 September) Phil Olsen Like me, the Cork Arts Theatre was established in 1976 (though I was never fondly referred to as the “CAT Club” in my early years). It is here that I arrived on a rainy late September evening to […]

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The Manchester Review

MLF 2019: Elif Shafak at Central Library, 10/10/19, reviewed by Probert Dean

When Elif Shafak finished her talk, I looked back on the event – an intimate gathering at Manchester Central Library – and reflected on her aesthetic turns of phrase, the lingering visions of her lively prose, and the sobering inevitability with which all discussions now turn to politics. Shafak is described as British-Turkish (or Turkish-British) […]

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The Manchester Review

MLF 2019:  ‘A Little Body Are Many Parts / Un Cuerpecito Son Muchas Partes’, 9/10/19, reviewed by Charlotte Wetton

‘A Little Body Are Many Parts / Un Cuerpecito Son Muchas Partes’ is one of those rare and lovely things: a poetry book with the original language and the English translation side by side. Poems from Legna Rodríguez Iglesias’ eight collections, written in Spanish, sit beside Abigail Parry and Seraphina Vick’s English translations. During the […]

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The Manchester Review

MLF 2019: Isabel Galleymore and Stephen Sexton, Blackwell’s, 7/10/19, reviewed by Kathryn Tann

Introduced to Blackwells on a chilly October evening are poets Isabel Galleymore and Stephen Sexton, along with their shining debut collections. Both with previously published pamphlets, both lecturers in Creative Writing, yet both with a unique and distinctive voice; each takes their place before the keen audience to read and discuss their latest work. First […]

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The Manchester Review

MLF 2019: Take 2, Jonathan Safran Foer at the Cosmo Rodewald, 8/10/19, reviewed by Erin McNamara

Jonathan Safran Foer has a plan to tackle climate change – but he wants you to come up with your own. In conversation with Erica Wagner, former literary editor of The Times, the writer discussed his latest book – a non-fiction work on climate change that is not so much a call to arms as […]

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The Manchester Review

MLF 2019: Take 1, Jonathan Safran Foer at the Cosmo Rodewald, 8/10/19, reviewed by Joss Areté Kelvin

Jonathan Safran Foer, Literature Live at the Martin Harris Centre, Centre for New Writing, 8/10/19, reviewed by Joss Areté Kelvin Acclaimed novelist and non-fiction writer Jonathan Safran Foer is sharing his own vulnerabilities in an effort to get his audience to question our own. His new book, We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Starts […]

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The Manchester Review

Helen Tookey, City of Departures, Carcanet Press (£9.99), reviewed by Sophie Baldock

Helen Tookey’s new collection, City of Departures, begins with the poem “Equinox”, describing the point when the “The year is balanced, for a moment only”, and the days are as long as the nights. This fragile, fleeting state of equilibrium is delicately poised and at risk of breaking. The poem recounts moments of “Disequilibrium”, which […]

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The Manchester Review

MLF 2019: Jeanette Winterson, Frankissstein, RNCM Theatre, 5/10/19, reviewed by Georgia Hase

Jeanette Winterson, Frankissstein: Manchester Literature Festival at the RNCM Theatre in partnership with the Centre for New Writing, 5/10/19, reviewed by Georgia Hase On the evening of Saturday the 5th of October Jeanette Winterson gave a reading unlike any other. Interactive, dramatic, futuristic, her performance was electrifying. Winterson animated the audience with her insightful and […]

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Ian Pople

Marilyn Hacker | Blazons: New and Selected Poems | reviewed by Ian Pople

Marilyn Hacker | Blazons: New and Selected Poems, 2000 – 2018 | Carcanet: £14.99 There is a detailed, but never dry, attention paid in the poems in Marilyn Hacker’s new, Selected; an attention is not only to the things she observes, but, and this is a huge part of Hacker’s success, there is a real […]

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The Manchester Review

MLF 2019: Common People at The Cosmo Rodewald Theatre, Martin Harris Centre, 5/10/19 reviewed by Charlotte Wetton

Review of Common People, Manchester Literature  I went to the ‘Common People’ event because I crave new stories and new voices. Working-class experience in literature is a rich seam not yet tapped. If I were a publisher, I would be signing up some of these debut writers pronto. Common People is an anthology of memoir – […]

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The Manchester Review

MLF 2019: David Nicholls in conversation with Alex Clark, at the Cosmo Rodewald Hall, Martin Harris Centre, 4/10/19, reviewed by Georgia Way

David Nicholls in conversation with Alex Clark The last time journalist Alex Clark interviewed writer David Nicholls in Manchester, it was, she says, a “mad experience” involving the police and broken microphones. David returned to Manchester on 4th October 2019 as part of his book tour for Sweet Sorrow – a story of first love […]

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The Manchester Review

Paul Muldoon and Alice Oswald: Literature Live at The Martin Harris Centre, Centre for New Writing, 3/10/19, reviewed by Georgia Hase

Paul Muldoon and Alice Oswald: Literature Live at The Martin Harris Centre, Centre for New Writing, 3/10/19, reviewed by Georgia Hase An evening in time, out of time, about time. Last night the remarkable Alice Oswald and Paul Muldoon gave the Centre of New Writing an evening of laughter and reflection. Both poets chose from […]

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The Manchester Review

Macbeth, Royal Exchange 13 Sept – 19 Oct, reviewed by Ronan Long

Macbeth | The Royal Exchange Macbeth has, at this point, been reshaped and diverted in so many different ways, it seems impossible for a director to find something new and explorable in its enduring characters and story. In directing this modernized incarnation, Christopher Haydon definitely gives it a good shot. The play opens with a […]

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The Manchester Review

HarmonieBand | Berlin: Symphony of a Great City | reviewed by David Adamson

HarmonieBand presents Berlin: Symphony of a Great City | HOME, Manchester 1982 European Cup winners Aston Villa have a song that goes, “Aston Villa FC / We’re by far the greatest team the world has ever seen”. Now, I’m all for the occasional self-congratulation, but history – and that slippery adjective – have a way […]

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The Manchester Review

Rebecca Tamás | WITCH | reviewed by Rebecca Hurst

Rebecca Tamás | WITCH | Penned in the Margins £9.99 Rebecca Tamás’ WITCH answered a question I didn’t know I was asking. Before reading WITCH I heard the electric crackle of its imminence: from the social media marketing campaign and Poetry Book Society recommendation, to the sold-out pre-publication performance in Manchester into which I failed […]

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The Manchester Review

A Taste of Honey | The Lowry | reviewed by Peter Wild

A Taste of Honey | The Lowry | Saturday 21st September Subdued is the word. We’re looking at a noirish basement. An underground nightclub, perhaps. A jazz trio – airbrushed drums, double bass, piano – serenade us. A brassy looking blonde starts to belt out a song as people move about the stage, draping her […]

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Ian Pople

Patricia Smith | Incendiary Art | reviewed by Ian Pople

Patricia Smith | Incendiary Art | Bloodaxe Books: £12 …and indeed it is. There is, perhaps, little surprise about the contents of much of this immensely powerful book. Given the events that are reported, and, as Smith would undoubtedly say, not reported, on our screens each day, Smith has a harrowing if ready stream of […]

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The Manchester Review

Sunset Boulevard reviewed by David Adamson

Sunset Boulevard | HOME | Manchester Now, it is 2019, and Hollywood is a humourless place. Caught between wanting to appear serious about contemporary issues while not taking itself too seriously, it finds itself lurching between a politician’s earnest, pained brow and that fevered, rictus grin that Cherie Blair used to wear in public engagements. […]

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The Manchester Review

Pharricide (Confingo) by Vincent De Swarte, translated by Nicholas Royle. Reviewed by Richard Clegg

Pharricide (Confingo) by Vincent De Swarte, translated by Nicholas Royle. This short novel is a terrific read. It is always good to find a new author and I must admit this was all new to me. Vincent de Swarte wrote several books for children and five for adults. “Pharricide,” published in 1998, won the Prix […]

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Ian Pople

Three Pamphlets | reviewed by Ian Pople

Martina Evans, Michèle Roberts, Denise Saul, Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch | Speaking Again: Poems for International Women’s Day | Rack Press: £5 Even though each poet in Speaking Again: Poems for International Women’s Day has a slim selection, four quite individual voices are present in this Rack Press pamphlet for International Women’s day. The importance of those […]

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The Manchester Review

Imarhan | Night & Day Cafe | reviewed by David Adamson

Imarhan | Night & Day Cafe | Manchester: August 6th The Night & Day café looks like a cross between Cheers and the red-lit and threatening open-mic nights from every country music biopic. Throughout the decade I’ve been coming in here, it’s never changed. A while back it obviously made a series of personal and […]

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The Manchester Review

Karen Russell | Orange World | reviewed by Livi Michael

Karen Russell | Orange World | Penguin Random House: £14.99 There are readers who feel a certain prejudice against special effects. Who might read Beloved for instance, as a historical novel, and be more moved by the story of Sethe, and the atrocities of slavery, than the device of the dead infant who is brought […]

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The Manchester Review

Rebecca Goss | Girl | reviewed by Eleanor Ward

Rebecca Goss | Girl | Carcanet Press: £9.99 “I spent the day being Rachel” is what Rebecca Goss tells us a few poems into her third collection Girl. It is one example of the many identities of “girls” we are to meet over the collection, and the many understandings of her own identity in the […]

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Ian Pople

Keith Hutson | Baldwin’s Catholic Geese | reviewed by Ian Pople

Keith Hutson | Baldwin’s Catholic Geese | Bloodaxe Books: £12 A book of mainly sonnets about, mostly long dead, music hall performers may not sound very entertaining… or, actually, it does, and is. But the point of the book is not only the recalling and regaling of lives which the vast majority of us are […]

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Ian Pople

Love Supreme Jazz Festival, reviewed by Ian Pople

Love Supreme Jazz Festival 2019 | Glynde Place | July 5th to 7th On record, Manchester’s own Go Go Penguin can seem occasionally samey, even cloying. The punched, ‘epic’ chords that pianist Chris Illingworth’s right hand deploys can feel a little coercive, the rhythmic push a little determined. Live, however, they prove the point. The […]

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Ian Pople

Sally Wen Mao | Oculus | reviewed by Ian Pople

Sally Wen Mao | Oculus | Graywolf Press: $16.00 There’s a driven intensity to many of the poems Sally Wen Mao’s new volume. And this intensity is true even as she moves through a range of figures from popular culture from Anna May Wong to Janelle Monáe and Solange. In particular, Anna May Wong, who […]

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Ian Pople

Nina Bogin | Thousandfold | reviewed by Ian Pople

Nina Bogin | Thousandfold | Carcanet: £9.99 There is a lot of snow towards the start of Thousandfold, Nina Bogin’s fourth collection. And even when there isn’t snow, there’s snow, as in the beginning of ‘The Dream’ part 1, of Bogin’s sequence, ‘Visit to a Friend’, ‘I take a snow shovel, a laundry rack and […]

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The Manchester Review

Beverley Bie Brahic | The Hotel Eden | reviewed by Maryam Hessavi

Beverley Bie Brahic | The Hotel Eden | Carcanet: £9.99                And I carve out the bruises, the fine-bore                Tunnels of worms.                I slice the fruit thinly, until the white flesh                Is almost translucent,                I arrange the slices in the new pot from Ikea                                (I burned the old one),                Add a trickle of water                And […]

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Ian Pople

Jenny Xie | Eye Level | reviewed by Ian Pople

Jenny Xie | Eye Level | Graywolf Press: $16.00 The blurbs on the back of Jenny Xie’s debut volume, Eye Level, include the New York Review of Books, Dan Chiasson in The New Yorker, Tracy K Smith and Brenda Shaughnessy. This first book has clearly hit the sweet spot as far as the reviewers are […]

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Chad Campbell

Howard Jones | Bridgewater Hall | May 30th

Howard Jones | Bridgewater Hall | May 30th Thursday night at Bridgewater hall saw synth-pop star Howard Jones return to Manchester in support of his new album Transform and to mark the 35th anniversary of his double-platinum debut 1984 album Human Lib. Jones, no stranger to Manchester, studied piano at the Royal Northern College of […]

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Ian Pople

Forrest Gander | Be With | reviewed by Ian Pople

Forrest Gander | Be With | New Directions: $16.95 On the back of Forrest Gander’s new collection, the Washington Post is quoted with the comment, ‘A complex reading experience punctuated by intense beauty.’ It clearly takes a certain level of honesty to place such an ambivalent comment as part of a blurb. But there is […]

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Ian Pople

Ken Smith | Collected Poems | reviewed by Ian Pople

Ken Smith | Collected Poems | Bloodaxe Books £14.99 The slight sense of a jostling masculinity in Ken Smith’s poetry might be part of the reason that it is often described as ‘muscular’. In part, this jostling feels as though it rises from the abundant contradictions of his life and manifested in the poetry; that […]

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The Manchester Review

Great Painters Are Rare: William Stott of Oldham,1857-1900, an exhibition at Oldham Art Gallery until May 11th, reviewed by Richard Clegg

Great Painters Are Rare: William Stott of Oldham,1857-1900, an exhibition at Oldham Art Gallery until May 11th Reviewed by Richard Clegg  William Stott led two lives, one rooted in Oldham and its environs, the other outside Paris in a centre for modern painters at Grez-sur-Loing where he made his home.  The son of a mill […]

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