Nicholas Taylor-Collins in front of a bookshelf

Nicholas Taylor-Collins

Literary researcher | Creative reader

Category: Book review

  • The between spaces in Jason Allen-Paisant’s ‘Self-Portrait as Othello’

    The between spaces in Jason Allen-Paisant’s ‘Self-Portrait as Othello’

    Jason Allen-Paisant won the 2023 Forward Prize and T.S. Eliot Prize for “Self-Portrait as Othello,” joining poets Sean O’Brien and Seamus Heaney in this rare accomplishment. His collection explores identity, racism, and coming-of-age in a foreign country, using space on the page to enhance the thematic caesurae and embodying the struggle of the ‘other’ in…

  • Vis-à-vis dystopia in Paul Lynch’s ‘Prophet Song’

    Vis-à-vis dystopia in Paul Lynch’s ‘Prophet Song’

    Paul Lynch’s “Prophet Song,” a dystopian novel set in Ireland, captures our era’s social and political unease, earning the 2023 Booker Prize. It explores totalitarianism’s personal impact through characters’ declining capacity to read faces, invoking philosopher Emmanuel Levinas’s ethics of the face-to-face encounter. The narrative warns against the corruptive power of authoritarian regimes.

  • To poem: dynamic memory in Anthony Joseph’s ‘Sonnets for Albert’

    To poem: dynamic memory in Anthony Joseph’s ‘Sonnets for Albert’

    Anthony Joseph’s “Sonnets for Albert” won the 2022 T.S. Eliot Prize, featuring fifty love-themed sonnets with a focus on memory and familial relationships. The poems are evocative rather than elegiac, intertwining personal and cultural memory, creating dynamic “poem-memories” that generate new meaning and understanding.

  • The forest of discovery in Jon Fosse’s ‘A Shining’

    The forest of discovery in Jon Fosse’s ‘A Shining’

    The 2023 Nobel laureate Jon Fosse inverts Plato’s Allegory of the Cave in his book ‘A Shining’, portraying a journey of confusion and ghostly visions within a dark forest. Unlike Plato’s enlightenment through external light, Fosse suggests a discovery of truth within darkness, paralleling certainty with confusion and using the forest as a metaphorical space…

  • Cellular vulnerability in ‘The Magic Border’ by Arlo Parks

    Cellular vulnerability in ‘The Magic Border’ by Arlo Parks

    Arlo Parks won the Mercury Prize in 2021 for her debut LP and then went on to release another album and a debut book of poetry in 2023. She doesn’t necessarily separate her poetry from her song lyrics. Parks suggests that her writing process is an exploration of self, referring to it as ‘cellular’. Some…

  • ‘The Outsider’ redux: Nadifa Mohamed’s ‘The Fortune Men

    ‘The Outsider’ redux: Nadifa Mohamed’s ‘The Fortune Men

    Nadifa Mohamed’s The Fortune Men (Viking, 2021) won the Wales Book of the Year in 2022. It is a fictional retelling of the tragic miscarriage of justice of Somali Mahmood Mattan in 1950s Cardiff. In the book, Mattan is executed for the murder of British Jew Violet Volacki, a crime he strenuously denied. While the…