Sam Byers

Rough justice

Asked how he achieves the distinctive realism for which his novels and screenplays are famous, Richard Price, that sharp chronicler of the American underbelly, tends to cite Damon Runyon’s biographer Jimmy Breslin, who said that Runyon ‘did what all good journalists do — he hung out’. Set in the brutal confines of the Stanville Women’s

The writer behind the brand

Few publishing phenomena in recent years have been as gratifying as Chris Kraus’s cult 1997 masterpiece I Love Dick becoming a signifier of Twitter and Instagram chic. The ‘lonely girl phenomenology’ it exemplified has now attained cultural status, with first person, inventive writing by women often enjoying centre stage. It’s interesting, then, that just as

Night of the living dead

On 5 February 1862, the night Abraham Lincoln and his wife gave a lavish reception in the White House, with the civil war swelling outside and their 11-year-old son Willie dying of typhoid fever upstairs, what was the state of the moon? Was it a ‘fat green crescent’? Or was it ‘yellow-red, as if reflecting

The wonder of knowledge

‘Transparency,’ remarks Eliade Jenks, narrator of Joanna Kavenna’s fourth novel, A Field Guide to Reality, ‘is an aspiration. But wouldn’t it be strange, if you could see all things clearly?’ It’s an apposite question. For a novel with illumination and the quest for knowledge at its heart, clarity is in beguilingly short supply. Set in