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MIR  Editors
MIR Editors


Introducing the fifth issue of the critically acclaimed literary magazine The Mechanics’ Institute Review (MIR).

          MIR5 features previously unpublished short fiction from established authors Ali Smith, Toby Litt and Sarah Salway, alongside 17 stories by some of the very best new talent on the MA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck, University of London. MIR5 also includes an introductory essay by author Susan Elderkin and stunning illustrations by Pete Williamson.

          With stories spanning five continents and covering everything from a dog with an identity crisis to an accidental kidnapping, justice by encyclopaedia and an unexpected clash between academic and pirate, this is a cosmopolitan collection packed with bold characters and brave voices.



With the exceptions of Toby Litt, Sarah Salway, Ali Smith and Pete Williamson, all contributors are students on the MA Creative Writing programme at Birkbeck, University of London.


Thea Bennett is an actress and writer who grew up in South London before it became a desirable place to live. She has written novelisations of two children’s TV serials: The Gemini Factor and A Little Silver Trumpet. Thea is currently writing a novel about the theatre.


Gul Y. Davis’s novella A Lone Walk received the J. B. Priestley Award for Young Writers in 2001. His story “The Psychology of Dangerous Roads” was adapted for radio and broadcast on BBC Radio 4. His short fiction and poetry have won or been placed in a number of competitions. He is currently working on a novel.


Melissa de Villiers grew up in South Africa. She was a political prisoner there during 1984. She now lives in London, where she works as a freelance journalist and editor.


Jon Elsom was born in Southampton and lives in London. He is a creative director in a large advertising agency. “Commission” is his second published story. He has completed a dozen or so stories and is beginning his first novel.


Albert Garcia grew up in Los Angeles and, after attending the University of California, Berkeley, remained in Northern California working for the University libraries as well as the City of Berkeley Public Library. Albert is returning to California to continue writing and considers London a home away from home.


Anupama Kumari Gohel was brought up in Hampstead, London. From childhood she has had a passion for storytelling, which both drives and dictates the tempo of her life. She has travelled extensively and lived abroad. She is currently working on her first novel.


Pippa Griffin lives and works in London. She was longlisted for the 2006 Fish International Short Story Prize, and her story “Next Door” was published by Route in their latest anthology Bonne Route, in February 2008. She is working on a novel and a collection of short stories.


Anna Hope is a Mancunian actress living in Hackney. She has read her stories at Tales of the Decongested. “A Gap of Sky” is from a work in progress, a collection of stories set on the same day in London.


Alison Huntington grew up in South Wales, lives in London and writes about both. “All or Nothing” is adapted from a novel-in-progress.


J. D. Keith was born and raised in London and is a regular on the performance poetry circuit. He won Farrago’s London Slam in 2006, and was a finalist in BBC Radio 4’s Slam in 2007. He is working on a collection of short stories set in London and will be published in the Tell Tales 4 anthology.


Olja Knezevic was born and raised in a country called Yugoslavia that doesn’t exist any more. Now she has to say she’s from Montenegro. She has been living in London for three years and is working on her first novel. She has two kids who sit on her shoulders while she writes.


Cynthia Medford Langley is currently working on a collection of integrated short stories. Her stories and essays have appeared in Puerto del Sol, Beacon Street Review, Pangolin Papers, The Sun, Downtown Brooklyn Review, American Agriculturist and Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society.


Toby Litt was born in 1968 and grew up in Ampthill, Bedfordshire. He is the author of Adventures in Capitalism, Beatniks, Corpsing, deadkidsongs, Exhibitionism, Finding Myself, Ghost Story and Hospital. His new novel, I play the drums in a band called okay, was published in March 2008. He is a Granta Best of Young British Novelist. His website is at


Philip Makatrewicz was born in London of Polish parents in 1981 and has also lived in Frankfurt and Manchester. He is currently working on a novel based on the short story “Boozehounds” that appears in this collection.


Paul Martin was born in London and has worked in the music industry for many years. He has been a DJ across the world as well as an A&R manager at various record companies including the cult label Talkin’ Loud. He is currently working on his first novel.


Josh Raymond is a rowing coach. He has read short stories at writLOUD and Tales of the Decongested and sometimes writes book reviews for the TLS. He is working on a collection of integrated short stories, another of which, “The Giraffe House”, will appear in Tales of the Decongested Volume 2 (December 2008).


Sarah Salway is the author of two novels, Something Beginning With and Tell Me Everything (Bloomsbury), and the short-story collection Leading the Dance (bluechrome). An Internet collaboration with Lynne Rees resulted in Messages (bluechrome). She currently teaches Creative Writing at the University of Sussex.


Thomas Jerome Seabrook is a writer and editor based in Leigh-on-Sea, England. He is the author of Bowie in Berlin: A New Career in a New Town (Jawbone, 2008) and a contributor to a number of other books including The Faber Companion to 20th Century Popular Music (Faber, 2001).


Ali Smith is the author of three short-story collections and four novels. Her novel Hotel World (2001) was shortlisted for both the Orange and Booker Prizes for Fiction. The Accidental (2004) won the 2005 Whitbread Novel Award. Her most recent book is Girl Meets Boy (2007). She lives in Cambridge.


Matthew Weait’s short story “As Red As” was a winner in the 2001 Fish International Short Story competition. He is a legal academic and his book Intimacy and Responsibility was published by Routledge in 2007. He is working on his first novel.


Pete Williamson is a London-based artist and animation designer, and is the author and illustrator of twelve children’s picture books. His work draws on children’s book art, early experimental films, late Rothkos and lost photographs in order to create eerie, dream-like images that charm and unsettle in equal measure.

The Mechanics’ Institute Review
Issue 5 Autumn 2008

The Mechanics’ Institute Review is published by MA Creative Writing, School of English and Humanities, Birkbeck, Malet Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7HX

ISBN 978-0-9547933-5-7

Introduction © Susan Elderkin, 2008
Contents © the individual Authors, 2008
Illustrations © Pete Williamson
Cover image © Medioimages / Photodisc (Getty Images)

Extract from The Iliad of Homer, translated and with an introduction by Richmond Lattimore (University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1951) © University of Chicago, 1951

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or any information storage or retrieval system without prior permission.

Project Director: Julia Bell

The Editorial Team would like to thank Russell Celyn Jones, Sue Tyley and Anne-Marie Taylor for making this project possible.

For further copies or information, please contact Anne-Marie Taylor, MA Creative Writing, School of English and Humanities, Birkbeck, Malet Street, Bloomsbury, London, WC1E 7HX. Tel: 020 7079 0689. Email:

Printed and bound by Antony Rowe Ltd., Bumpers Farm, Chippenham,

Cover design and typesetting by Raffaele Teo

Illustrations by Pete Williamson

The Mechanics’ Institute Review is typeset in RotisSerif



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