The White Review editor Jacques Testard takes part in the Independents Day panel discussion Paths to Publication, 5pm - 6pm on Thursday 6 June, exploring the role of literary magazines in cementing the reputation of new writers, and the relationship between experimental writing and publishing practices. Here Jacques gives an introduction to The White Review.
In February 2011, Benjamin Eastham and I launched the first issue of The White Review, ten months in the making. A London-based arts and literature journal, it takes its name and a degree of inspiration from La Revue Blanche, a Parisian magazine which ran from 1889 to 1903 and was edited for some time by the anarchist and critic Félix Fénéon. Now in its seventh print issue, each edition of The White Review combines a unique collection of new fiction and poetry, interviews and essays, and original works of art and photography, by emerging talent and established names. An online issue with shorter, original, web-only material is also published at the beginning of every month.
A few issues back – the fourth, to be precise – we grandiosely stated ‘that it is more important now than ever to provide a forum for expression and debate’. The current edition of The White Review, the seventh, goes further than its predecessors in this respect. It coincided with the announcement of the winner of the inaugural White Review Short Story Prize for unpublished writers which, with 472 entrants, demonstrates the vitality of literary culture in Britain and Ireland. (Claire-Louise Bennett took home the £2,500 prize for The Lady of the House).
This culture, and the oft-mooted notion of its decline, is the subject of a timely essay in the current issue – published just weeks before Granta announced its 2013 Best of Young British Novelists list – by Jennifer Hodgson and Patricia Waugh. ‘Whatever happened to the British novel?’ they ask, arguing for an alternative postwar British literary canon, and identifying the current ‘British literary establishment’ as ‘the perfect pricks, so to speak, to kick against’.
Also, provocatively, in this edition: a Guardian reader critiques its opinion pages; and Keston Sutherland, interviewed, asserts the ability of radical poetry to effect the ‘fundamental transformation of human life’. Really touchy readers might even take exception to Lawrence Lek’s wonderfully esoteric take on the Shard, ‘the last building of the twentieth century’. This issue also sees us renewing our commitment to fiction and poetry in translation – with new work by Edouard Levé (conceptual art meets Oulipo), Peter Stamm and the venerable Yves Bonnefoy – and to new writers such as Jesse Loncraine.
The White Review was founded with the intention of opening up a space for new writers and artists, but also to give free rein to innovative forms of artistic expression. We still believe that it is more important now than ever to provide a forum for expression and debate. We are indebted to the support of the many people who are similarly committed to the idea that a healthy and varied culture is integral to a society’s well-being. The enduring hope, to finish on another grandiose quote of ours, is that an issue of our magazine ‘inspire[s] you to pick up a pen, a paintbrush, or a placard’.
Editor, The White Review
Jacques Testard takes part in the Independents Day panel discussion Paths to Publication, 5pm - 6pm on Thursday 6 June, exploring the role of literary magazines in cementing the reputation of new writers, and the relationship between experimental writing and publishing practices.