Mario Reading

Chinese whispers

Peter Ho Davies’s second novel, The Fortunes, is a beautifully crafted study, in four parts, of the history of the Chinese in America. Though it deals, of necessity, with racism in all its insidious forms, it does so with humanity, humour, self-deprecation and a hefty dose of irony. Each section — ‘Gold’, ‘Silver’, ‘Jade’ and

The years of pain

I remember the exact day my illness first declared itself. Twenty-seven years ago. Thursday 20 October 1988. My then wife and I were at a viewing of Harry Hook’s The Kitchen Toto at the Strode Theatre in Street when I felt a sudden, crippling pain in my back. Being 35 and a grown-up, I tried

First-rate firsts

It has become something of a truism among writers’ groups and in articles offering advice on how best to secure the services of an agent or publisher that the opening of a novel is everything — the ne plus ultra of the writer’s armoury. If one can knock the reader’s socks off with the first

A choice of first novels | 14 May 2015

As all writers know to their cost, first novels are never really first novels. They make their appearance after countless botched attempts at the perfect debut — a debut that always lurks just out of view, but seems tantalisingly easy for everyone else. My first published novel was fifth down the line. It was a