Friday, 29 June 2012

Does a bestseller necessarily mean well-written?

My mum (who doesn't read) recently came home from work with a sneaky copy of 50 Shades Of Grey tucked away in her handbag. When she revealed the book to me, I'm not going to lie, I was horrified because:

a) My mum was reading what has been described as soft-porn (she argued it was erotica)
b) My mum never reads. She's read one John Grisham novel and started to read The Help only to stop a quarter of the way through because it was 'stressing her out'. Mum, that's history.

Although I had fun flicking through the book and reading all the rude bits, I did notice that in places it was poorly written. The book never claimed to be a masterpiece, so I do kind of feel sorry for all the stick it's been getting. However, it does make me think whether there has been a change in what a commissioning editor looks for in a book. Do they now want sales over quality? Despite the fact that the book has sold millions of copies and has been described as "unputdownable" and "kinky", it has yet to be described as "well-written". Although, give the woman some credit, it can't be easy writing well about S&M.

Then again it could be argued that these types of book have got people reading, giving a boost in what is a difficult time for the industry. All the money made by this book alone is going back into the book industry meaning more books can be printed; books that are a bit risky that wouldn't have been published before. It has also proven how powerful 'word of mouth' can be, especially when - despite all the bad reviews of the book all over the internet - it is still a bestseller. 

I WILL read the book as I feel its only fair before I start slating it. If anyone else has read it and wants to share their thoughts or even a review, please send it over to us at :

Wednesday, 27 June 2012


We understand that the best things in life cannot be rushed. Which is why we have pushed back our deadline to the 30th September.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Britain is Great

This year has been a big one for our country. Our lovely Queen has been on the throne for sixty years and we are shortly due to host the Olympics.

However there is more to Britain than Yorkshire puddings and red telephone boxes (unfortunately) and not all of us find "Keep calm and eat cake" posters relevant (here it is our mantra). Outsiders see us as advocates solely of afternoon tea, but what about those times you've watched Wimbledon with a litre of gin or enjoyed a good ale in your local? Just us? We don't think so.  Not all of the UK consists of quaint countryside villages with thatched cottages. What about the cities? And we don't just mean London, but cities all over Britain that were built on industry with the help of the working class man. Cities that are now filled with empty shop fronts and tower blocks.

Lumi wants to discover the REAL Britain, no matter how shabby it is.

Here at Lumi we want to produce an anthology of writing about the many diverse places of the UK, with the theme "Hometown". We want people up and down the nation to write about their hometown, whether it be Brixton or Bristol, Salford or Sheffield. It can be fiction, fact, journalism, poetry. 

The word limit is 2000 words and the deadline is the 15th August. All submissions should be sent to

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Short: Building Bridges

It’s about 20 feet down. I’m a poor judge of height and distance usually, but from the bank yesterday it looked to be around 20 feet. Of course, the water level might have changed since then, but not by much.
            It is truly amazing how quiet it can be in the middle of a city at the right hour of the night or very early morning. A few seagulls veering overhead with their unearthly crying, and exactly three cars – all taxis – in the last half hour. One single pedestrian had passed behind me on the opposite side of the street. He was drunk, hadn’t noticed me, and couldn’t stay on either the pavement or the road.
            Strangely in the near-silence and the emptiness (which was full of the things that had been there, and would be again in a few short hours), I didn’t feel alone. I didn’t feel lonely, any more than usual. I felt at peace. That only strengthened my resolve. My feet kicked out into the breeze blowing under the bridge.
            The wobble itself was less disconcerting than the arms that were suddenly around me, thick-muscled, steadying my sway.
            “Careful,” he said, in French. The voice was quite deep. It’s remarkable feature was the humour that enlivened it, especially in what surely couldn’t appear to be a very funny situation.
            “I am,” I answered in English. Tonight wasn’t a night for taking any prisoners. How was it that I hadn’t noticed this man, whoever he was, coming up beside me? My voice was steady and humourless. He should’ve cleared off.
            “You’re not drunk.” Still I hadn’t turned around to look at my ‘saviour’. He, at least, had removed his bare arms from my waist. That unexpected intimacy had taken my breath away as surely as the cold brown water would.
            “Why else would a young lady be sitting on the railing of a bridge alone in the middle of the night?” The humour was still in his tone, despite the gravity of the answer that rang out without being spoken. It didn’t seem he was in any hurry to leave, although the slowing pace of his breathing made me think he must’ve been running. For the first time I doubted the wisdom of my chosen hour. No-one would've stopped in the daylight, in the bustle. No-one would've assumed responsibility.  
            “I’m okay now, thank you.” Turning as I said it, intending to dismiss him with a look, we almost collided. Again he raised his hands to steady me. It wasn’t over-familiar or presumptuous; just the same instinctive move you’d make to catch a jar of jam falling out of a cupboard. The remarkable thing about his face, like his voice, was the humour that animated it. A smile seemed to be crouched in every line. He turned as if to leave and I returned to the ripples on the surface, the plastic bottles and bags. Three steps and he was jogging.
            “You shouldn’t do it, you know!” He threw this over his shoulder the same way someone upriver had slung those bottles.
            A heartbeat, a slow blink.
            “Why?!” I shouted, not without a hint of anger.
            I listened to the silence after his footfalls halted. I heard him slowly, treading softly, walking back in my direction, all the while theatrically holding the pause. Or thinking.
            “Because you wouldn’t be able to live with yourself.” I felt rather than saw or heard him behind me again, as if my whole body was covered in tiny whiskers. A smile escaped. No teeth, though, and my rueful face was composed by the time he’d clambered over the black-glossed railing to join me. We sat three hand-widths apart and he peered down at the dark shadow of the bridge, the movement of the muddied water.
            “How could you live with the guilt of my guilt on your conscience?” Of course, his question was absurd. “I’ll wake up every day thinking ‘What could I have done to save that girl who jumped from the bridge?’ And I’ll go to bed every single night thinking ‘How could I let her do that?’” He paused, but didn’t look at me. Kicking myself for thinking the thought, I found him handsome. In an unassuming way. A wide mouth.
            “How could you live with my blood on your hands?” My mouth opened and a squeak of indignation came out before I could stop it. “Because eventually I would have to kill myself. Who knows, maybe I would jump from here. You would be my murderess.” The matter-of-factness caught me somewhere between scoffing and outrage, leaving speechlessness. He had already got to me on some level, though. I was listening.
            “Don’t be ridiculous!” I blurted finally. “What do you care about me? And why should I care about you?”
            “O-ho! A fine argument!” He was smiling, and I was angry. “So you don’t care about you, and you don’t care about me. There must be something you care about, otherwise what are you waiting for?”
            What was I waiting for? Who was he that I needed to justify myself to him? Only a pretty face, and a pretty face never solved anything for very long.
            “Maybe I should jump with you…” the stranger mused. “It would save us both a lot of heartache, don’t you think?” It was only when his direct gaze landed on me that I realised I’d been watching him. Me, stubborn in my reserve and isolation, completely focused on the task in hand.
            “Oh, don’t be ridiculous,” I said again, exasperated. “You must have a family and friends…”
            “And you don’t?” He raised his eyebrows.
            “That’s none of your business,” I snapped. “And the oldest trick in the book.”
            “Ah, you’re disappointed in me.” This guy must be an actor, I thought. He managed to look genuinely ashamed of himself and his efforts to ‘talk me down’. Despite everything he was saying, it was hard to pin down the level of indifference he maintained as feigned or real.
            “If you have to do it, at least have a little bet with me,” he said, as if bringing the matter to a close. “I bet 20 euro that you survive.” He held out his hand for me to shake, despite the 20 foot drop and deep, silty water.
            “But…” was all I managed to splutter before he plunged in.
            “And another little bet – I love to gamble now and then.” I shrugged to signal ‘go ahead’ as he deftly turned and leapt back onto the pavement.
            “I bet 20 euro that I will be here before you tomorrow night.”
And he was gone.  

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Review: Anil's Ghost by Michael Ondaatje

You may have seen reports of, or even observed first hand, the Twitter argument between M.I.A and CNN broadcaster Anderson Cooper last month. M.I.A urged Cooper to watch the documentary Sri Lanka's Killing Fields: 'War Crimes Unpunished' after he (mistakenly) called her a 'Lady Tamil Tiger' in 2009. Although the two apparently made up, the incident did highlight the tensions and raw emotions which understandably surround the situation in Sri Lanka.

Like all the most affecting stories, Anil's Ghost is about everything. Listing the themes doesn't do it justice and it would be the same list of themes as for any great novel you'd care to name. Ondaatje looks at love, loss, death and healing through the lens of the Sri Lankan conflict. His consideration of how we construct truth is amplified in this context; the context of thousands of people searching for some kind of justification for what they've gone through.

The beginning of the book is very subtle in the way that it draws you in with an almost dispassionate front - a news bulletin look, if you like - from an outsider's perspective. He positions us as one of the incarnations of Anil's ghost. She's been away from the country of her birth for years and we follow her back there, sharing her memories and not entirely understanding the situation. Slowly the picture gains resolution, zooming in to 'street view' and the emotional (and gory, physical) details of the individual human level.

What emerges are stories of suffering and resilience, of acceptance of and withdrawal from reality. Although the characterisation is sharp and cleverly done, none of the characters seem whole somehow. You get the feeling that this is exactly Ondaatje's point. Each of them, Anil included, can be understood only through their loss; they are defined by what is missing and have to learn to live with the paradoxical presence of their loss.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Welcome to Lumi!

Welcome to Lumi. To understand us a little bit better, let me give you an insight; our ideal afternoon would be spent in the sun, lounging with a good book and a cocktail (preferably a Martini) whilst George Michael serenades us from a lilo in the nearby pool… Which I imagine would be everyone’s ideal afternoon, right? The point we’re trying to get across is that we love reading, escaping from our everyday (yawn) lives and being transported to another realm or era, discovering new landscapes and settings, being introduced to people we would cross the street to avoid or who we would fall head over heels in love with. Occasionally we also dabble in writing too, whether it is hard-hitting journalism (unlikely), poetry, fiction, a review of our latest read or a chapter from our memoirs. So we decided to create a little corner of the internet entirely dedicated to this. Put simply, in primary school terms: reading and writing (but obviously for older people). We would love to build a collection of creative writing from a range of different authors across the West Midlands, covering different styles and genres. Or maybe you would like to post a review about a book you’ve just finished? This is also great, even an article about a writer/the book market/the impending digital publishing doom….We would love to see it.