Critical Reviews

Reviews are a vital way of engaging with contemporary writing and the wider literary community. Hannah Whaley is a General Editor for Dundee University Review of the Arts, which was founded by Dr Gail Low in 2011 to promote the diversity of artists and art forms in the UK context. Hannah has published critical reviews of fiction, poetry, memoir, and exhibitions. She particularly enjoys challenging writing that intersects with her thematic interests of domesticity, trauma, motherhood and society.

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Example Reviews:

The Night-Side of the Country
Meaghan Delahunt

Some books lead readers gently by the hand and others push them in at the deep end. In her latest novel, The Night-Side of the Country, Meaghan Delahunt opens with a standalone sentence designed to launch you firmly into the post #metoo waters: ‘The days drew in and the men fell hard.’ From that moment on, the novel delivers a highly charged and fast paced read.

Jenny Offill

Weather, the third novel from Jenny Offill, reveals a juxtaposition of modern anxieties: marriage and motherhood demand microscopic introspection at one end of the scale, while the amorphous threat of indistinct global destruction looms large at the other.

Vertigo & Ghost
Fiona Benson

Capturing the experiences of womanhood with currency for our time may require an acknowledgement of contrast, notably between the furiously public domain of the #metoo campaign and its associated high-profile sexual assault cases, and the hidden realities of motherhood and female domesticity.

The River Capture
Mary Costello

When someone loves only one piece of literature throughout their lifetime, should that devotion be admired or pitied? Acclaimed Irish writer Mary Costello’s second novel, The River Capture, offers a deeply philosophical contemplation of humanity rendered through the mind of a James Joyce obsessive. It is also an ambitious act of dedication to Joyce’s Ulysses…

Normal People
Sally Rooney

In her second novel, Sally Rooney delivers a compelling love story set in the West of Ireland and grounded in the political realities of recent times. Normal People was hotly anticipated, well received, and continues to see Rooney lauded as a generational writer. Nevertheless, the passivity with which the millennial label is applied within critical…

Martha Sprackland

Citadel is Martha Sprackland’s first full collection, following two previous pamphlets (Glass as Broken Glass in 2017 and Milk Tooth in 2018) and a raft of poetry editing credentials. The slim volume carries fifty poems and has a density to the reading. This stems from the complex premise packed into the work: a historical reimagining

Deborah Orr

Motherwell is a poignant family portrait, articulately painted by the late Deborah Orr of a life with ‘house-proud’ mother Win and ‘factory-worker’ father John. Orr achieved success as a journalist, becoming editor of the Guardian’s Weekend supplement by 31, and writing a weekly column for two decades thereafter. She was also a child of Scottish…

Slip Of A Fish
Amy Arnold

Amy Arnold’s novel Slip of a Fish is an exuberant exploration into whether language can be trusted to convey meaning; the protagonist, Ash, collects words as a way of coping with the confusion they cause her, whilst Arnold’s own inventive literary styling gradually exposes this complex inner mind to readers.

Who Is Mary Sue?
Sophie Collins

I first encountered the pejorative term ‘Mary Sue’ in a critical review of Samantha Shannon’s Bone Season and can still recall my bemusement; Shannon had secured an impressive seven-book deal with Bloomsbury yet stood accused of creating merely an idealised projection of herself. It is this gendered injustice which Sophie Collins now examines…

Carys Davies

Carys Davies has been honing her short form craft for many years, with two collections of short stories to her name and a slew of impressive writing credits that include the 2015 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and the Royal Society of Literature’s V.S. Pritchett Prize. It should be no surprise then that her…

Die, My Love
Ariana Harwicz

Ariana Harwicz is an Argentinian playwright and novelist for whom Die, My Love was originally published in 2012 as the first of a trilogy, now translated into English and long-listed for the 2018 Man Booker International. The translators are Sarah Moses and the Scottish-based Carolina Orloff, who co-founded Charco Press through which Die, My Love…

She Lives There Still
Mary Leader

Mary Leader, an American lawyer-turned-poet, has found a home with the British-based Publisher Shearsman Books. She Lives There Still is her second title to be published with them, and they are due to re-issue her two earlier works that are currently out-of-print. A fifth collection has already been completed.