Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Book of Khartoum: ten short stories offer a dynamic tour of Sudan's capital

"The stories in this collection pick up where Season of Migration leaves off," write Ralph Cormack and Max Shmookler in their introduction to The Book of Khartoum: A City in Short Fiction which they edited for Comma Press of Manchester, England. "From the 1960s to the present, these stories explore a post-colonial world shaped by conflicting aspirations and daunting obstacles."

The editors' reference to Tayeb Salih's novel Season of Migration to the North, published in Arabic in 1966 and in Denys Johnson-Davies's English translation in 1969, reflects the towering and enduring presence of Salih (1929-2009), the great pioneer of Sudanese, Arab, African and post-colonial literature. But in the years since Salih burst onto the international literary scene far less Sudanese literature has been translated into English than has literature from certain other Arab countries such as Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq and Morocco. 

The Book of Khartoum claims to be the first major anthology of Sudanese stories to be translated into English, and is much to be welcomed. The acclaimed Sudanese novel and short story writer Leila Aboulela -  who writes in English - says in a comment on the cover that the book is "an exciting, long-awaited collection showcasing some of Sudan's finest writers. There is urgency behind the deceptively languorous voices and a piercing vitality to the shorter forms."

The Book of Khartoum won from English PEN both a PEN Translates Award and a PEN Promotes Award. It is the latest, and tenth, anthology in the Comma Press series 'Reading the City'. Previous titles in the series include  Madinah: City Stories from the Middle East  (2008) edited by Joumana Haddad, and The Book of Gaza: A City in Short Fiction (2014) edited by Atef Abu Saif.

Raph Cormack

The editors of The Book of Khartoum are from the new generation of Arabic scholars and translators. Cormack is a translator and PhD student at the University of Edinburgh in modern Arabic literature. Max Shmookler is a doctoral student and translator in Columbia University's Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies. His research is on Arabic literary history, particularly modern prose, and he has also worked as a refugee rights advocate.

Cormack has a translation blog, Curiosities, on which he has translated works by, among others, Egyptians Mohammed Taymur and Ahmed al-Kashif, and Sudanese writer and politician Mohammed Ahmed Mahjoub. A 30 December 2015 post, 'Muawyia Nur: Buying Books in Early 20th Century Egypt and Sudan' , profiles this key figure in the development of the Sudanese short story who died  in 1941. In their introduction to The Book of Khartoum the editors describe how Nur "moved back and forth between his home in Sudan and a bohemian existence in Cairo, writing stories and literary criticism and producing a huge body of work in his 32 years of life."

Max Shmookler

Cormack and Shmookler note that the countryside remains an important theme for much Sudanese literature: many authors including the famous Tayeb Salih and Ibrahim Ishaq made their names through works based outside big cities. Sudanese literary culture has also taken much interest in folk tales. The focus of The Book of Khartoum is avowedly urban, showing many facets of the Sudanese capital. The introduction includes a map of the city, with the confluence of the White and Blue Niles, and sets the scene of Khartoum's geography and literary activity, past and present. The derivation of the city's name is uncertain. It may come from the Arabic word for an elephant's trunk, or the "meeting point of two rivers" in the Dinka language, or the local Beja word hartooma meaning meeting place. Others claim the name refers to a drink that leads to speedy intoxication.

The Book of Khartoum contains ten short stories by ten authors including two women - Bawadir Bashir and Rania Mamoun - rendered into English by ten translators. Cormack and Shmookler write: "These literary portraits of Khartoum offer a dynamic tour of the city, its residents and its many peripheries. Yet the authors are not only guides to the city, but also sophisticated literary figures in their own right. They both draw from, and contribute to, a variety of literary movements in Sudan, the broader Arab world, and beyond."

Sudan's modern history has been filled with wars and turmoil and its writers practise their art in an often difficult environment. A number of the country's writers now live abroad. Take the example of Abdel Aziz Baraka Sakin, born in Kassala in eastern Sudan in 1963. The author of many novels and short story collections, his 2010 novel al-Jango was banned by the Sudanese government shortly after it won the al-Tayyib Salih prize. Sakin's  books were confiscated from the Khartoum book fair and banned. They included Woman from Campo Kadis (2004) from which his contribution to The Book of Khartoum, 'The Butcher's Daughter', is taken. Sakin left Sudan and lives in Austria, while his work is published in Cairo.

a nightmarish vision 

The stories in The Book of Khartoum have energy, humour and vividness of expression. The techniques used are often experimental and enigmatic, with forays into fantasy. Violence, explicit or lurking under the surface, is present in several stories. 'The Passage' by poet, journalist and short story writer Mamoun Eltlib, translated by Mohamed Ghalaeiny, presents a nightmarish vision reminiscent of a Hieronymus Bosch painting. The story, written in poetic prose, has a cosmic quality and is full of disturbing images. "I saw all kinds of creatures and behaviours and horrific experiments. I saw people smiling acquiescently, as they were being slaughtered on blocks cast from solid gold. I saw men and women arriving with dry nibs to dip in fresh warm blood, before rushing to darker corners to start their writing - great stacks of books rising high beside them, their edges dripping with blood." Eltlib is a prime mover on the Khartoum literary scene, and part of a group which organises a monthly book market-cum-cultural event called Mafroosh which promotes literature in the capital.

Hammour Ziada

Several of the stories have footnotes containing essential historical or literary information. This is particularly the case with Hammour Ziada's story 'The Void', translated by Kareem James Abu-Zeid, set after the Battle of Omdurman or Karari in 1898. The story is prefaced by a Reuter report from The Egyptian Gazette headlined 'Shocking Details' describing the stench, the hundreds of wounded, streams of blood blackened in the sun. But 'no sympathy can be felt for them, for these fiends have already disniterred and mutilated our dead. If the Sirdar errs it is on the side of leniency.' The Sirdar refers to Kitchener, commander-in-chief of the Egyptian army. Ziada shows the aftermath of battle from the other side, mown down with the weapons of modern warfare. The protagonist of his story is a wounded soldier who has endured horrific experiences on the battlefield. His sister tends to his wounds and cuts out a bullet embedded in his thigh. The story of military conflict is intertwined with that of her brutal marriage.

'The Void' is part of Ziada's literary explorations of Sudanese history. His novel The Longing of the Dervish set in nineteenth century Sudan won the 2014 Naguib Mahfouz Prize for Literature and was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) in 2015. Jonathan Wright's English translation of the novel is forthcoming from Penguin.

'you're a disgusting refugee'

Over the years many refugees have made their way to Khartoum. The story 'It's Not Important, You're From There' by the young South Sudanese writer and journalist Arthur Gabriel Yak, translated by Andrew Leber, gives the perspective of a refugee from "down there - that city with a Southern air." The story is  written. largely in the second person. The refugee will find "the office you've heard so much about. Inside there'll be people with pale faces who can't stand you. You're a disgusting refugee." The Christian refugees from the South suffer torture, imprisonment and possible death. The story conveys the depersonalisaton of the refugee, still dreaming of  possible futures and of being resettled abroad:  "Smiles of a 'migration to the North' will be drawn across the faces of your children."    

Ahmed al-Malik's 'The Tank', translated by Adam Talib, is a satirical exploration of the gaining of power by an individual through  the acquisition of arms. The deadpan first-person narrator buys a second-hand army tank, parks it under a tree outside his house and observes the effect on his friends ('it hasn't escaped my notice that most of them haven't visited me since'), tradesmen and others.

Several stories explore tensions between life in the countryside and in Khartoum. The central figure in 'Next Eid' by Bawadir Bashir, translated by Thoraya El-Rayess, is a village boy who has gone to university in Khartoum. Uthman returns to his village every Eid carrying presents, but he is envied by other villagers and 'despite his attempts to get closer to them, a coldness has formed between them...' A rumour spreads that he has a girlfriend in the capital, to the dismay of the village girl who longs for him. But the reader learns that Uthman's life in Khartoum is not what the villagers assume, and that he is caught in a cycle of deprivation. 

'In the City' by Ali al-Makk (1937-1992) , translated by Sarah Irving, depicts a boy named Hassan who leaves his village to go to secondary school close to Khartoum and faces difficulties in meeting women. His new friends take him to a brothel and he is quietly certain that, despite his lack of skill in engaging in small talk and the other rituals of the establishment, his innate virility will prevail.  "The guys in the village bragged much of this hidden potency, and left the sweet-talk and the niceties to the regular city folk... talk ... and more talk... let him be what he is."  The outcome is sad and comic.

'The Butcher's Daughter' by Abdel Aziz Baraka Sakin, translated by Raph Cormack, concerns a father who takes the bus to Khartoum, tormented by suspicions that his student daughter is engaged in shameful behaviour and may have entered an Urfi (unregistered and unwitnessed) marriage. He uses his ingenuity and a touch of menace to try and outwit the teacher with whom he believes she is involved.

'A Boy Playing With Dolls' by Isa al-Hilu, in translation by Marilyn Booth, is a delightfully imaginative tale in which a toymaker leaves his 13-year-old son alone in his shop. The boy creates a kind of theatre with dolls on  a glass surface. "He made each of them move in turn, like in a waking dream, or a dreaming wakefulness. On this mirror-surface the child remade his world." The boy invents a succession of scenarios, culminating in a voyage on a paper boat. The stories within a story reveal the boy's psychic state, anxieties and sexual awakening.

Bushra al-Fadil's 'The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away' translated by Max Shmookler gives an atmospheric portrait of crowds in the streets of Khartoum before zooming on a beautiful girl and her younger sister. The story includes a small drawing of the girl, with whom the first-person narrator becomes  obsessed. The story has references to Arabic and Sudanese poetry and mythology. Al-Fadil has a doctorate in Russian language and literature, and Russian influences are discernible in his engaging story. He now lives in Saudi Arabia.

Rania Mamoun

Rania Mamoun's elegiac story 'Passing', translated by Elisabeth Jaquette, is a delicately nuanced account of a father's death seen through the eyes of the daughter who knows he was disappointed by her failure to  keep her promise to become a doctor. The daughter senses her father's presence: "Your scent fills every inch of space. It pulls me out of a whirlpool of memory, tossing me into another, wider and deeper, and the feeling that you are close to me swells."

The launch of The Book of Khartoum happens to coincide with the publication of Banipal Magazine issue 55 which is largely devoted to a special feature on Sudanese Literature Today, comprising short stories, novel extracts and poems by Sudanese authors, and reviews of published works. The focus on Sudanese literature will continue in Banipal issue 56. The two publications complement each other well. Several authors feature in both, and in one case the same story appears in both, with different translators.  Readers may like to compare  Elisabeth Jaquette's translation of Rania Mamoun's  'Passing' with William M Hutchins' translation of the story in Banipal 55.
by Susannah Tarbush - London

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

chair of judges reveals the five Caine Prize finalists

Seventeenth Caine Prize shortlist announced

The five-writer shortlist for the £10,000 Caine Prize for African Writing 2016 was today announced by the chair of this year's judges, writer and academic Delia Jarrett-Macauley. The judges' chair described the finalised entries as "an engrossing, well-crafted and dauntless pack of stories. The high standard of the entries was clear throughout and particularly noteworthy was the increasing number of fantasy fictions, with the sci-fi trend resonating in several excellent stories...The panel is proud to have shortlisted writers from across the continent, finding stories that are compelling, well-crafted and thought-provoking.’"

Delia Jarrett-Macauley

The shortlist comprises Abdul Adan (Somalia/Kenya); Lesley Nneka Arimah (Nigeria); Tope Folarin (Nigeria); Bongani Kona (Zimbabwe), and Lidudumalingani (South Africa). It includes a former Caine Prize winner (Tope Folarin, in 2013) and a former regional winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. The Caine winner will be announced at an award ceremony and dinner at the Weston Library, Bodleian Libraries, Oxford, on Monday 4 July. In addition to the £10,000 prize, each shortlisted writer will receive £500.

This year a record 166 short stories from writers representing 23 African countries were entered for the Prize, a marked increase from last year's 153 qualifying stories from 17 countries.

the stories and their authors

Abdul Adan

Abdul Adan (Somalia/Kenya) is shortlisted for ‘The Lifebloom Gift’ published in The Gonjon Pin and Other Stories: The Caine Prize for African Writing 2014 (New Internationalist, United Kingdom, 2014). His work has appeared in African magazines Kwani, Jungle Jim, Gambit, Okike, Storytime and elsewhere. He was a participant in the 2014 Caine Prize workshop in Zimbabwe, and is a founding member of the Jalada collective.
o Read ‘The Lifebloom Gift’

Lesley Nneka Arimah

Lesley Nneka Arimah  (Nigeria) is shortlisted for ‘What it Means When a Man Falls From the Sky’ published in Catapult (Catapult, USA, 2015). A Nigerian writer living in Minneapolis, her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s and other publications. When she isn't spreading peace and joy on Twitter, Arimah is at work on a collection of short stories (What it Means When a Man Falls From the Sky) forthcoming in 2017 from Riverhead Books. There are rumours about a novel.
o Read ‘What it Means When a Man Falls From the Sky’

Tope Folarin

Tope Folarin  (Nigeria) is shortlisted for ‘Genesis’ published in Callaloo (Johns Hopkins University Press, USA, 2014. He won the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2013, and in 2014 he was named in the Africa39 list of the most promising African writers under 39. In addition, his work has been published in various anthologies and journals. He lives in Washington DC.
o Read ‘Genesis’

 Bongani Kona

Bongani Kona (Zimbabwe) is shortlisted for ‘At Your Requiem’ published in Incredible Journey: Stories That Move You (Burnet Media, South Africa, 2015). He is a freelance writer and contributing editor of Chimurenga. His writing has appeared in Mail and Guardian, Rolling Stone (South Africa), Sunday Times and other publications and websites. He is also enrolled as a Masters student in the Creative Writing department at the University of Cape Town.
o Read ‘At Your Requiem’·


Lidudumalingani (South Africa) for ‘Memories We Lost’ published in Incredible Journey: Stories That Move You (Burnet Media, South Africa, 2015). He is a writer, filmmaker and photographer, and was born in the village of Zikhovane in Eastern Cape province.  Lidudumalingani has published short stories, non-fiction and criticism in several publications. His films have been screened at various film festivals.
o Read ‘Memories We Lost’

an inspiring degree of risk-taking

Delia Jarrett-Macauley's co-judges are acclaimed film, television and theatre actor, Adjoa Andoh; writer and founding member of the Nairobi-based writers’ collective, Storymoja, and founder of the Storymoja Festival, Muthoni Garland; Associate Professor and Director of African American Studies at Georgetown University, Washington DC, Dr Robert J Patterson; and South African writer and 2006 Caine Prize winner, Mary Watson.

Jarrett-Macauley said her fellow judges "commented on the pleasure of reading the stories, the gift of being exposed to the exciting short fictions being produced by African writers today and the general shift away from politics towards more intimate subjects – though recent topics such as the Ebola crisis were being wrestled with.’

She added: ‘It was inspiring to note the amount of risk-taking in both subject matter and style, wild or lyrical voices matching the tempered measured prose writers, and stories tackling uneasy topics, ranging from an unsettling, unreliable narrator’s tale of airport scrutiny, to a science-fictional approach towards the measurement of grief, a young child’s coming to grips with family dysfunction, the big drama of rivalling siblings and the silent, numbing effects of loss.’

 Caine Prize anthology 2015

The five shortlisted stories will  be published in New Internationalist’s Caine Prize 2016 Anthology in July, and through co-publishers across Africa, who receive a print-ready PDF free of charge from New Internationalist. In addition to the shortlisted stories, the anthology will include stories written at the Caine Prize workshop held in Zambia in March this year.

The co-publishers of the anthology are New Internationalist (UK), Jacana Media (South Africa), Lantern Books (United States), Kwani? (Kenya), Sub-Saharan Publishers (Ghana), FEMRITE (Uganda), Bookworld Publishers (Zambia), Langaa Research and Publishing (Cameroon) and amaBooks (Zimbabwe).

The Caine Prize, awarded annually for African creative writing, is named after the late Sir Michael Caine, former Chairman of Booker plc and Chairman of the Booker Prize management committee for nearly 25 years. The Prize is awarded for a short story by an African writer published in English (indicative length 3,000 to 10,000 words). An African writer is taken to mean someone who was born in Africa, or who is a national of an African country, or who has a parent who is African by birth or nationality.

The African winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Wole Soyinka and J M Coetzee, are Patrons of The Caine Prize. Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne is President of the Council, Ben Okri OBE is Vice President, Jonathan Taylor CBE is the Chairman, Ellah Wakatama Allfrey OBE is the Deputy Chairperson and Dr Lizzy Attree is the Director.
Susannah Tarbush, London

Friday, May 06, 2016

Banipal 55 helps propel Sudanese literature onto international stage

Sudanese literature is in general less known internationally than the literatures of certain other Arab countries. But since the beginning of the 21st century Sudanese literature has been increasingly emerging on the global stage, a trend that can only be enhanced by the new issue, No. 55, of Banipal Magazine of Modern Arab Literature. The issue is largely devoted to works by Sudanese authors -  short stories, novel extracts, poetry, non-fiction, memoir, essays, reviews and an interview. They convey a picture of a vibrant, varied and distinctive Sudanese literature by authors living both inside and outside Sudan. 

In  her editorial in Banipal 55 the magazine's publisher Margaret Obank writes: "Like our earlier features on the little known literatures of Yemen [issue 36], Tunisia [issue 39] and Libya [issue 40], we look forward to Sudanese literature in translation finding new audiences around the world, particularly through the encouragement and promotion this issue gives."  Furthermore, the next issue of Banipal, 56, will contain additional works by Sudanese writers.

Banipal 55's special feature Sudanese Literature Today kicks off with novelist and storyteller Ahmad Al Maliks' essay "A Short Introduction to the Sudanese Literary Scene". This essay is complemented  further on in the issue by novelist and critic Emad Blake's comprehensive eight-page article "The New Novel in Sudan."

Emad Blake

The Sudan special feature includes short stories by Al Malik, Hammour Ziada, Leila Aboulela, Rania Mamoun, Tarek Eltayeb, Abdel Ghani Karamallah, and Rania Mamoun, as well as extracts from novels by Hamed El-Nazir (The Waterman's Prophecy); Emad Blake (Shawarma) and Mansour El-Sowaim (Dhakirat Shirrir). There is also poetry by Mohammad Jamil Ahmad and Najlaa Osman Eltom.

From Abdel Ghani Karamallah comes the children's story "The Jealous Star", illustrated by the author. And Egyptian writer Azza Rashad has conducted a frank interview in Cairo with the prominent Sudanese publisher Nur al-Huda Mohammad Nur al-Huda, head of Azza Publishing which he founded in 1991. 

Abdel Ghani Karamallah at a story-telling session

One of Azza Publishing's authors is Stella Gaitano, born in Khartoum in 1979 to a family from South Sudan. She was forced to relocate to South Sudan in 2012. She contributes to Banipal 55, in its first English translation (by Adil Babakir), her compelling "Testimony of a Sudanese Writer" which she presented in a speech at the Tayeb Salif Award. In her testimony she recalls her annoyance at always being introduced as "the southern writer who writes in Arabic." This gave her a feeling of exclusion: "Why couldn't I be introduced simply as a Sudanese writer just like all the others?" But ironically, following the secession of the South, she finds the "southern writer who writes in Arabic" description has become a reality. With English being the official language of the new state she is now trying to write also in English as a way of trying to reach out to everyone.

Jamal Mahjoub, who writes in English, is best known as a novelist and - under the penname Parker Bilal -  as a crime writer. But in Banipal 55 he is represented by an extract from a non-fiction work-in-progress on the modern history of Sudan. The extract, "The Ghost of John Garang", tells of the death in a helicopter crash of Garang, the first vice-president of the new interim Government of National Unity and President of the Government of South Sudan.

Stells Gaitano
In his essay "The New Novel in Sudan", Emad Blake traces the development of the Sudanese novel from the first half of the 20th century. Tayeb Salih - whose 1966 novel Season of Migration to the North, published in Denys Johnson-Davies's English translation in 1969, is regarded as a landmark of Arab, African and post-colonial literature - "confronted the crucial issues of his time, such as the clash of Eastern and Western civilizations, as well as boldly employing sex and a style of writing we might term the 'impossible easy'." Whereas Salih drew on his experiences as a young émigré in London, and balanced dialect with more neutral language, Ibrahim Ishaq's writing explores the cultural environment of Western Sudan, and exclusively uses the local tongue in dialogue. "Most critics would agree that it was these two writers who were the true driving force behind the transformation of the form and content of the Sudanese novel."

Between the early 1970s and late 1990s, poetry and the short story rather than the novel were at the forefront of the Sudanese cultural scene, observes Blake. But since the turn of the millennium there has been a flourishing of the Sudanese novel, "in a spirit of openness and true revolution. Pushing poetry and short stories to the margins, it was now time for the novel to take centre stage amongst the  new wave of young writers. Most wrote from abroad, where they could read and immerse themselves in the culture of the 'Other' - with fewer concerns over problems of publishing."

Blake's essay is rich in information on contemporary Sudanese novelists, and he gives the flavour of themes in their work including the wars in the south and in Darfur.  

Hammour Ziada

As Ahkmad Al Malik notes in his introductory essay, one way in which the profile of Sudanese authors has been rising is through various literary prizes that have sprung up in recent years. In 2002 the Abdel Karim Mirghani Cultural Center organised a Tayeb Salih tribute event, at which it decided to establish an annual award in Tayeb Salih's name, for an outstanding work of fiction from Sudan. Al Malik says the award has created significant momentum in the Sudanese cultural scene although like all community-driven activities it has met with considerable obstances from the authorities. A major telecommunications company launched another award in Tayeb Salih's name, but Al Malik explains that this second award, which has unprecedented government support, is "widely believed to have some hidden agenda."

Hammour Ziada won the 19th edition of the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature for his novel The Longing of the Dervish, which was also shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) 2015.  Jonathan Wright's translation of the novel is forthcoming from the American University in Cairo Press's new imprint Hoopoe Fiction.

Banipal 55 features Ziada's short story "The Wad Azrag District", which shows the author's excellent storytelling skills. The story depicts the fragile boundary between the nomadic and the settled, and the prejudice that arises after a Bedouin, Ahmed Wad Azrag, arrives in the village of Hajar Narti with his family. It takes a long time for the distrcit of Wad Azrag to be accepted as part of the village; Ziada's story is epic in scope and has a  timeless, archetypal quality.

Hamed el-Nazir's novel Nubuat al-Saqqa made the longlist of IPAF 2016. In the Banipal 55 extract from the novel the title is translated as The Waterman's Prophecy, though IPAF translated the title as The Prophecy of Saqqa.

Amir Tag Elsir
The prolific novelist Amir Tag Elsir, by profession a medical doctor based in Qatar, was shortlisted for IPAF 2011 for The Grub Hunter. The novel was published, in William M Hutchins' English translation, in Heinemann's African Writers Series in 2012. Last year Tag Elsir's novel 366 won the Katara Prize for Arabic Literature, after in 2014 being  longlisted for IPAF.

In Banipal Clare Roberts reviews Tag Elsir's novels Ebola '76 , (Darf Publishers, 2015) translated by Charis Bredin and Emily Danby and French Perfume (ANTIBOOKCLUB, 2015) translated by William M Hutchins. These reviews follow her review in Banipal 53 of Tag Elsir's novel Telepathy translated by Hutchins (Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing, 2015). The English version of French Perfume is a finalist in the Best Translated Book Awards 2016.

Volker Kaminski reviews Abdelaziz Baraka Sakin's fifth novel Der Messias von Darfur, translated by Günther Orth, and Olivia Snaije reviews Nouvelles du Soudan (Magellan & CIE, Paris, 2009) a collection of short stories from Sudan translated into French by Xavier Laffin. "In a mere 95 pages, the selection of short stories in this collection reflect powerful and engaging story-telling recounted in an astonishing variety of styles," writes Snaije. 

Leila Aboulela

The best-known Sudanese author currently writing in English is the multiple prizewinning novelist, short story writer and radio dramatist Leila Aboulela, who lives in Scotland. She is author of four novels, most recently The Kindness of Enemies, a short story collection and a number of radio plays. Banipal 55 contains her short story "Amulet and Feathers" in which a young girl dresses up in her brother's clothes and, armed with a dagger, sets off to avenge her father's death. She masquerades as a  child fortune-teller, hoping thereby to track the woman she holds responsible for her father's stabbling.The story is rendered in a graceful poetic style blurring dreams and reality.
report by Susannah Tarbush, London