Against Nature (À Rebours) by J.K. Huysmans
Although written 120 years ago, it’s a descent into the horror of bourgeois taste, decadence, nihilism, narcissism and shopping. Never been more relevant than in these Trumpian times.
Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas
I heard this on BBC radio read by Richard Burton when I was very young. It introduced me to the plasticity of language and the power of sound. Reality too became a fantastical notion, like the paintings of Chagall.
Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky
This book changed poetry. Sometimes, I would find myself breathless by the turn of the page. Tyranny takes as many forms as human resilience. Post-COVID, it reminds us of the power of resistance.
Ethics by Baruch Spinoza
At college I studied Philosophy but Oxford at he time was dominated by Logical Positivists who lauded dry, empirical evidence over everything. So I did a paper on speculative Metaphysics and the structural beauty of Spinoza’s pantheistic universe still amazes me.
Flights by Olga Tokarczuk
She weaves together so many narratives so deftly, all of which celebrate wildly different freedoms. It’s a Wikipedia of Liberty. Like W.G. Sebald, her forerunner in this kind of literary adventure, she does so with kindness, warmth and humor.
Mark Fiddas was born in England to a Scottish mother. Worked in Washington, D.C. then London, now Dubai. Married a Spaniard. Two sons and two poetry books. ‘The Chelsea Flower Show Massacre’ and ‘The Rainbow Factory’ (both Templar Poetry). Won some poetry prizes – last year The Oxford Brookes University Prize and the Ruskin Prize. Published in Poetry Review, Irish Times, Magma, Aesthetica, Poem, New European, The London Magazine.