In his 1959 novel about Manchester, Passing Time, Michel Butor describes how the city’s sprawl seems endless and all-consuming: “I have never again attempted to escape from it by walking straight ahead… Like a lamp in the mist it forms the centre of a halo whose hazy fringes intermingle with those of other towns.”
In W. G. Sebald’s The Emigrants, Manchester’s sufficiency takes a similar grip on the artist Max Ferber, who says: "I cannot leave, I do not want to leave, I must not."
The Manchester Review will not be as comprehensive or total as the city imagined by Sebald and Butor, but it will aspire to something of its home city’s sprawl and openness.
At a time when specialism dominates the arts as much as it does the sciences, we will publish poems, essays and fiction alongside music and visual art. We will also publish new work by some of the world’s best, and best-known, writers alongside work by new or lesser-known writers and artists.
We are not, of course, the first literary journal to be based in Manchester. The city, through the University, has previously hosted Critical Quarterly and PN Review, two ongoing standard-bearers for an international literary culture whose example The Manchester Review will hope to emulate.
Our innovation is to use the internet’s virtual reach to make the best new creative work available, without charge, to the widest possible international audience. Issue one features new work by John Banville, Bill Manhire, Paul Muldoon and Ali Smith, alongside the work of many other familiar and some - we think - soon-to-be familiar names.
We encourage submissions from all quarters. To get a sense of what we like, visitors to the Review will have access to a weekly review blog which sits beside the journal, as well as podcasts of selected debates and public events at the Centre for New Writing.
Issue two will go live in March 2009.
John McAuliffe and Ian McGuire