True Stories & Other Essays by Francis Spufford – review

This career-spanning collection brings lucid thought and prose to subjects as various as landscape, books and religion

In his 2010 book, Red Plenty – stories set in Soviet Russia – Francis Spufford crossed the border between fact and fiction, fusing history and imagination to compelling effect. In his opening essay here, he asks: “Is it difficult to be truthful?” This career-spanning collection – variously covering books, religion, technology, musings on Antarctica (“I’ve found myself thinking about the strangely fictive qualities of polar landscape, so page-like in its whiteness”) – makes us consider the world anew. Unpicking complex questions in his lucid prose, Spufford shows how his geographical journeys inform his imaginative journeys.

True Stories & Other Essays by Francis Spufford is published by Yale University Press (£20). To order a copy for £17 go to or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online ...