Murder, mayhem and mutiny galore awaits in a nail-biting adaptation of Ian McGuire’s acclaimed novel

Credit to BBC2

The North Water gives us a tale of survival set against a harsh Arctic wasteland, where the real monsters are the human ones. A story about a 19th century whaling expedition gone wrong, it pitches amoral harpooner Henry Drax (Colin Farrell) against disgraced ex-army surgeon Patrick Sumner (Jack O’Connell) who finds himself caught up in a murder mystery that threatens not only his life but everything he thinks he knows about the nature of truth, justice and the possibility of redemption.

Imagine the sense of brooding evil, like a layer of filth, that suffuses Conrad’s Heart of Darkness crossed with…


On White Heroes, Black Martyrs and the End of Blaxploitation

Chairman of Illinois Black Panthers Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya) holds a speech, Credit: Warner Bros Pictures

The Best Picture Nominees for the 2021 Oscars seem to come in pairs. First, there’s Nomadland and Minari, two cinematic adaptations dedicated to that most elusive fantasy of all, the American Dream. Then, there’s this year’s ultimate biopic for film aficionados, Mank, and, once more, Nomadland, representing indie filmmaking. But Judas and the Black Messiah and The Trial of the Chicago 7 share the unique distinction of being set in the political turmoil of late 60’s Chicago.

Both films touch on the lives and legacies of Black social revolutionaries Bobby Seale and Fred Hampton yet with unequal emphasis. Shaka King’s…


‘’Resurrection’’ is the politically incendiary story the Russian regime tried to bury

Credit to Vincent Van Gogh, ‘Prisoners Exercising’ (1890), The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow

When you think of Tolstoy, it’s War and Peace or Anna Karenina that comes to mind. For most, it’s probably the former, considering that its the showstopper on lists such as ‘The Longest Classics to Read Before You Die’. War and Peace is part and parcel of concerted reading efforts during the pandemic, with prominent authors like Yiyun Li instituting online book clubs to get through the acclaimed 19th century novel.

Yet many readers don’t know that Tolstoy wrote one other, great book in 1899. Upon publication, Resurrection surpassed the sales figures of both of his better known classics. The…


A South Indian take on the acclaimed family drama

Credit: A24/Plan B

Half a year ago, I had a conversation with a friend.

We were at a cozy Taco place at the main shopping street in Vienna, enjoying plates of sizzling food. I remember that it was a Friday and I’d just come from work, psyched at the prospect of a relaxing weekend. Maybe it was the balmy weather or just the fact that I could finally stretch out my legs, but I felt unusually chatty.

As a second generation Austrian with Indian roots, I’m used to straddling cultures. I know what to say,but more than that, what not to say. …


A look behind the margins at America’s itinerant elderly workforce

Spotlight on Amazon warehouse,Credit to Searchlight Pictures

Nomadland has been called a masterful, visually arresting feature that spins poetry out of the everyday life of an average woman. In keeping with Chloe Zhao’s creative vision for her films so far (Songs My Brothers Taught Me,The Rider) viewers are treated to a dreamscape of vast deserts, lush woodlands and breathtaking mountainsides that succeeds as an homage to the open road. The Oscar nomination in the category for ‘Best Cinematography’ is definitely earned.


Under the shadow of the shield

Credit to Disney+

A New Hero

When Sam Wilson/Falcon holds a speech after giving up the shield, he says:’We need new heroes suited for the times we live in-courageous, righteous, the best in all of us’. Ever since that moment, many have anticipated the time when the first Afro-American superhero would switch out his wings for the iconic shield.

But the words spoken run a lot deeper. They are a clear nod to the fact that heroes arise in times of profound crisis. After the Blip, the fallout occasioned by Thanos snapping his fingers in Avengers:Infinity War was significant.


Marvel’s newest offering The Falcon and the Winter Soldier swings the shield at white supremacy

Credits to Disney+

When Sam Wilson/Falcon stops in his tracks after being hailed as ‘Black Falcon’, all hell breaks loose. Not on screen-here, the ribbing of the superhero with the trademark mechanical wings (‘So are you Black kid then?’) provides comic relief. Yet, despite the illusory ‘Bazinga’ all Sheldon Cooper fans must have shouted internally after that diss, the sentiment behind those words remains hard-hitting.

Dubbed as ‘social commentary’ by its writers, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier delivers on said promise in its second episode. By calling out the naming practices of the comics industry (ex. ‘Black’ Lightning, ‘Black’ Panther, or ‘Black’…


On finding the answers to Life, the Universe and Everything in Jenny Offill’s newest book

Credit to Granta

It is rare that a story on fears, ranging from the climate crisis to the rise of right-wing nationalism, ends up being a harbinger for hope.

But that is exactly what Jenny Offill’s Weather is.

Formally a story about the everyday worries and concerns of a mother, daughter, wife and sister, Weather primarily deals with the uncertainty of the times we live in.

Lizzie, the previously mentioned protagonist, is a librarian who takes on a second job answering the queries of people tuning in to her mentor’s climate podcast. The questions are both absurd (‘Do angels sleep?’) as well as…


Lily King’s romantic tale is an ode to resilience and self-realisation

Credit to Grove Atlantic

In his controversial classic Lady Chatterley’s Lover, D.H. Lawrence wrote: ‘We need to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.’ Lily King seems to agree. Known for writing insightful, emotionally piercing fiction, in Writers & Lovers, she returns to the stage with a follow-your-dream-story that moves from debilitating grief to blinding success.

Casey Peabody, the 31-year-old narrator, is a down-at-luck aspiring writer, mired in student debt and stuck in a dead-end job as a waitress. At the onset of the novel, we find her struggling with the death of her mother and crippled by self-doubt over the worth of…


On kickstarting our literary drive in the season of new beginnings

Photo by Yoksel 🌿 Zok on Unsplash

There is nothing as comforting as strolling through streets and avenues, golden sunshine warming our skin. As the burst of colours that are budding tulips and daffodils herald the return of Spring, we rejoice. No more coming home from work in the dark. No more thick scarves and padded coats. No more slipping on sludge and ice. As animals awaken and fresh rain falls, the very air seems suffused with possibility.

These days, that silent wonder at a re-awakening world is doubly precious.

In honour of that sense of rejuvenation, here are eight books to help lift your spirits this…

Jasmin James

Photojournalist and narrative non-fiction writer

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