John Burnside’s novel, Ashland & Vine (Jonathan Cape), was published in February to great acclaim. It tells the story of the meeting between Kate Lambert, a young, semi-alcoholic film student, and Jean Culver, an elderly woman who offers to contribute to the former’s oral-history documentary on the condition that Kate stays sober for four days. Writing in The Times, James Marriott called the novel “a drifty, dreamy, dramatic epic”.
On the same day, John’s most recent book of poems, Still Life with Feeding Snake, was also published. Writing in The Guardian, Kate Kellaway praised the poems for “registering the ways in which beauty makes life worth living”.