Jon Day

Jon Day teaches English at King's College London and is the author of Homing: On Pigeons, Dwellings and Why We Return

In defence of rats

I n the ranks of unloved animals, rats are  surely king – so reviled that other pest species are often referred to as variations of the rat archetype: pigeons are ‘rats with wings’, grey squirrels are ‘tree rats’. There was also a recent flurry of stories about Britain facing an ‘invasion’ of ‘300 million monstrous

Fleeing paradise: eden, by Jim Crace, reviewed

Since announcing his retirement in 2013, Jim Crace has had more comebacks than Kanye West, something for which we should all be thankful. Craceland is a compelling place to visit, full of hazy yet broadly recognisable locations (Tudoresque England in the IMPAC award winning Harvest; a vaguely Mediterranean town in Melody) and spanning indeterminate times

The controversial side of carp fishing

All anglers are obsessive, but carp fishers are the most single-minded of all. They think nothing of spending weeks on the banks of a muddy lake or gravel pit, lines and breath baited, waiting for a bite. Ask an aficionado what motivates him and he’ll speak — with an intensity that sounds a lot like

The mysterious world of pigeon racing

Pigeon racing isn’t much of a spectator sport. Race birds are driven to the ‘liberation point’, where they’re released to fly back to their homes. Only the liberation and the return are witnessed — what happens in between is a mystery. This is partly what makes pigeon racing so fascinating. It’s also what can make

Man about the house: Kitchenly 434, by Alan Warner, reviewed

I have enjoyed many of Alan Warner’s previous novels, so it gives me no pleasure to report that his new book is so monumentally tedious that when two accountants turn up halfway through you think: great! Things might finally be getting interesting. Kitchenly 434, set in Thatcherite Britain, is narrated by Crofton Clark, an aging

A chronicle of modern times

Jonathan Coe writes compelling, humane and funny novels, but you sometimes suspect he wants to write more audacious ones. He has a long-standing interest in formally experimental writers — Flann O’Brien and B. S. Johnson are heroes — but it’s an interest that has never really become full-blown influence. Though The Rotter’s Club (2001) —

Back to basics | 30 March 2017

Tim Parks is a writer of some very fine books indeed, which makes it even more of a shame that his most recent novel is flat, grim and (like its narrator) interesting only to itself. His main theme is adultery, a subject he explored in his wonderful novel Europa (1997), in the short story collection

Life in the chain gang

In 2004, French police officers searching the home of the professional cyclist David Millar found some syringes and empty phials hidden in a hollowed-out book. Millar confessed that he had been using the substance EPO to boost his red-blood-cell count. He was banned from the sport for two years, and returned to cycling a reformed