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MIR  Editors
MIR Editors


The human condition in all its forms is played out in a rickety Kenyan bus, a Victorian clinic and the backstreets of Jerusalem in this fourth issue of The Mechanics' Institute Review. Love and loss, hope and disappointment, are as resonant in suburbia and the Old Kent Road as they are beside a Texan dirt track or in an Indian brothel. Here are 23 short stories from both new and established voices, an essay on the art of self-criticism by one of the world’s leading writers, and illustrated pieces by two of today’s most exciting graphic authors.



David Bezmozgis was born in Riga, Latvia in the former USSR. He holds a BA in English Literature from McGill University and an MFA in Production from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinema-Television. His written work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Zoetrope, the New York Times Magazine, The Walrus, and other publications. Natasha and Other Stories (Jonathan Cape, 2004), David’s first book, has been translated into more than a dozen languages.


Danny Birchall lives in London where he manages the Institute of Contemporary Arts website and writes a monthly column on online cinema for Sight and Sound magazine.


Gabriela Blandy has a first-class degree in History and has had fiction published in print and online journals in the US and UK. She has won the Royal Society of Literature’s V. S. Pritchett Memorial Prize 2007 and twice been longlisted for the Fish Short Story Prize. She was also a winner in the Firstwriter International Short Story and Dame Lisbet Throckmorton Fiction Writing contests, and has recently completed her first novel.


Nadia Crandall holds an MA in English Literature from Oxford, an MBA from Harvard, and pursues diverse literary interests while working as a director of an investment fund. She has published articles on William Blake and contemporary illustrators, Gothic intertextuality in cyberfiction, the ideology of fairy-tale adaptations and the UK children’s book business, as well as some short fiction. She is currently writing a novel.


Zoë Fairbairns’ stories have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and have been published in Quality Women’s Fiction, Cosmopolitan and anthologies including Tales I Tell My Mother, By the Light of the Silvery Moon and Tales of Psychotherapy. Her collection How Do You Pronounce Nulliparous? is published by Five Leaves. She teaches short-story writing at the City Lit in London.


Tom Gauld is a cartoonist and illustrator. His published books include Guardians of the Kingdom, Robots, Monsters Etc. and Hunter & Painter. His comic strip ‘Move to the City’ ran in Time Out 2001-2002, and his work appears each Saturday in the Guardian. He is noted for his work with Simone Lia, with whom he published the comics First, Second and Both.


Jaime Hernandez was born in California. In 1981, he and his brothers Gilbert and Mario published the first Love & Rockets comic, which continued for fifty issues. After solo projects, including Whoa, Nellie! and Penny Century, Jaime decided, with Gilbert, to revive Love & Rockets. Jaime has also worked for The New Yorker and the New York Times Magazine.


Parselelo Kantai is a Kenyan writer and investigative journalist. In 2004, he was nominated for the Caine Prize for African Writing for his debut short story ‘Comrade Lemma and the Black Jerusalem Boys Band’. He has been published in the literary journal Kwani?. He is currently working on a novel.


Rohan Kar has had short stories published in The New Writer (2000) and the Fish Anthology (2004) and was a finalist in both the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook competition in 2003 and the Scottish International Open Poetry Competition in 2005. He is currently studying on Birkbeck’s MA Creative Writing programme and is completing his first novel.


Nik Korpon lives in Baltimore, MD. He is currently finishing an MA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck College in London, while editing his first novel and screenplay.


Jill McGivering is a foreign correspondent with the BBC. Now based in London, she’s previously served as the BBC’s South Asia correspondent in Delhi, as Hong Kong correspondent and, in Washington, as State Department correspondent. She is now taking the MA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck and writing a novel set in India. ‘The Second Chance’ was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 earlier this year.


Joyce Carol Oates’ most recent novel is The Gravedigger’s Daughter (HarperCollins, 2007). She is a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She is also the recipient of the 2005 Prix Femina for The Falls. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University, and she has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978.


Jennifer Payne graduated from the University of Southern California in 2002, and moved to the UK shortly afterwards. She has an MA in Gender, Culture and Politics from Birkbeck, and is currently completing the MA in Creative Writing. ‘Things You Think You Need’ is her first published piece.


Samanthi Perera was born and raised in London. She studied at University College London and King’s College London, and now is pursuing a career in mental health. ‘My Side of the River’ is her first piece of published fiction.


T. Rawson has just completed the two-year Certificate in Creative Writing at Birkbeck, and is working on a novel about the social and political effects of the Industrial Revolution and how they affect one family. Her entry into this anthology is the first time she has been published. One of her ambitions is to have a radio play accepted for production.


Lucy Roeber gave up her job as assistant editor of Prospect magazine five years ago, moved to Paris and wrote her first novel. She’s now based back in London and engaged in writing historical fiction. She is married with two children.


Rosie Rogers was born in 1973. She studied Drama at Manchester University and graduated in 1997. She teaches Drama and Film Studies in Crawley, and is currently redrafting her first novel, In a Place Like This. She lives in Brighton.


Paul Ryan is a first-year student on the Certificate in Creative Writing course at Birkbeck. ‘When Your Mother Dies’ is his first published story. He is an assistant editor on a consumer magazine and previously worked on local newspapers and as a teacher of English as a foreign language.


Elizabeth Sarkany worked as an NHS doctor between 1983 and 2002. She has had several stories published in Quality Women’s Fiction and Tears in the Fence magazines, others accepted by Parameter and for anthologies from Earlyworks Press and Loki Books. Her story ‘How Michael Stays Young’ was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2006.


Michelle Singh is a graduate of the University of Birmingham, where she read for a degree in English Literature. In 2000 she won the Audrey Pipe Fellowship literary award for young writers, and has had several pieces of her work published in a variety of anthologies and online. Michelle works as a media editor in the City but plans to move to the countryside this year to finish the novel she’s writing.


David John Soulsby is currently in the first year of the Certificate in Creative Writing at Birbeck. He has recently been on two Arvon Foundation writing retreats and is working on the second draft of a play.


Rose Tremain is the author of nine novels and the winner of several awards, including the Dylan Thomas short story award, the Sunday Express Book of the Year award and the Whitbread Novel Award. She has had novels shortlisted for the Booker and Orange prizes. Her new novel, The Road Home, was published by Chatto & Windus in June, 2007.


James Vincent was born in south London, where he still lives. He has worked in education and financial research and currently combines freelance editing with his MA studies. He has written several short stories and is working on a novel set in Deptford featuring a seamstress who believes she is immortal.


David Foster Wallace is the author of the novels Infinite Jest and The Broom of the System, several story collections, including Oblivion: Stories, and books of essays – most recently, Consider the Lobster. He writes for The Paris Review, The New Yorker and other magazines, is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and has won a number of literary prizes. He lives in California.


Hilary Wilce has won a number of awards for her short fiction, including the Mathew Prichard award, the Ian St James award and the Kent Literary Festival prize. She works as an education journalist, and has written a book for parents about schools. She is currently working on a novel.


Laura Williams is a student on the Birkbeck Certificate in Creative Writing and is currently working on her first novel about a private investigator from Tulse Hill. ‘Balcony View’ is her first piece of published fiction so she has yet to give up her day job as a social researcher.

Editorial Team

Project Director: Sue Tyley

Editors: Gabriela Blandy, Jill McGivering, Jennifer Payne, Elizabeth Sarkany, James Vincent



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

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

Cover design by Emma Forsberg

Typeset by Raffaele Teo

The Mechanics’ Institute Review is typeset in Garamond



Preface © the Editors, 2007

Contents © the individual Authors, 2007

Cover Image © Stone/Getty Images

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.



ISBN 978-0-9547933-4-0



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