like a book

This is a rather excellent piece by Jemima Kiss.

If an optimum reading experience were the priority, how different would Facebook feel? Curiously, it would probably feel like a book. link

Yes. Because a printed, paper book is the optimum reading experience. A screen is not. Neither is a SnapFaceInstaTwit.

For anyone who wants to write a book, however, the internet is probably the greatest enemy to attention and concentrated thought, both for the writer and potential readers. It works in partnership with the mind – trained during years of internet use – not be able to concentrate on any one thing for more than 90 seconds. link

Also. Yes. Hence the existence of facebook quitters, the need for tools like selfcontrol and a degree of digital un-learning – often when I read a book, I look up at the right hand corner, trying to find the time… Nuts.


Which is, tangentially, why I’m thinking of going the route of an old friend for my next, but one, book.

Sketch by me.



The 1949 first edition cover of George Orwell’s 1984.


Out of all of the covers since 1949, this Spanish edition from 1983 is my favourite.


However, in today’s era of redaction and surveillance, the 2013 design is the most intriguing.

This brilliant, censorial approach to Orwell’s dystopian classic – referencing the rewriting of history carried out by the novel’s Ministry of Truth – wasn’t easy to achieve.

“It’s obviously the risk-taker of the series,” says Pearson, “and I can be very grateful to Jim Stoddart, Penguin Press’ art director, for safeguarding its progress in-house. It takes a fair bit of confidence to push something like this through and I can only assume that Jim had to deal with the odd wobble.”

Pearson says that the design went through numerous iterations “to establish just the right amount of print obliteration. Eventually we settled on printing and debossing, as per the Great Ideas series [Why I Write shown, above], with the difference being that the title and author name were then blocked out using matt black foil. This had the effect of partially flattening the debossed letters, leaving just enough of a dent for the title to be determined – though I can’t vouch for it’s success on Amazon.” link

the orientar


Sketched with a 0.1 mm nib, black ink, Steadler pigment liner Fineliner pen on Moleskine notebook paper.




A typical scene in Dakar, Senegal. Sketched with a 0.1 mm nib, black ink, Steadler pigment liner Fineliner pen on Moleskine notebook paper.



I started this sketch of Dakar ten days ago.


I put in about an hour or two per day.


I’m still finishing the details. It’s a present. It’ll be done by Christmas.


Dakar and kipple is the vague idea.

kipple detail copy

Plenty of kipple in Dakar. Sketched with a 0.1 mm nib, black ink, Steadler pigment liner Fineliner pen.

voices from another star

A Day In The Afterlife – this is a very good BBC 2 Arena documentary on the life and work of Philip K. Dick. He wrote 42 novels. One of the interviewees calls his work “predictive science-fiction”,

“He’s one of the few writers who has the satisfaction of having got it right, in a complicated way.”

“There will come a time when it isn’t ‘They’re spying on me through my phone’ anymore. Eventually, it will be ‘My phone is spying on me’.” link

And, to listen to a great description of the plot to Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? watch from here.

“Because today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups… So I ask, in my writing, What is real? Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives; I distrust their power. They have a lot of it. And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing.” link



I popped along to the Post Office in downtown Dakar last Friday. It’s nearly 20 km away from where we live. Dakar is huge.


The signed contract for my second book should be with the publisher in New York later today. A year and a half ago, I sent my first ever book contract from downtown Kigali.


I hope there’ll be many more of these to sign in the future.

galley giveaway


I offered a signed galley of Eating Việt Nam, delivered in a hand sketched envelope together with an airmail letter to Twitter users last weekend. These are the names of those who entered. Scroll down to see who won.








I sketched the front of the envelope just before the winner was revealed. I like the randomness of this kind of competition. I’ll do something like this again, when the book is published in March, 2015.