The Secret Life of the Panda is a collection of unclassifiable stories suffused with a delicate realism so skilful it is impossible to trace the line that marks where strangeness begins. The stories encompass diverse settings and situations: revolutionaries in Cuba, a heretical naturalist in 16th Century Germany, the private worlds of those growing up and growing old in modern Britain. But in all of them Jackson captures with precise external imagery and inward observation moments of penetrating personal significance for the characters.
This subtle but exotic collection forms a menagerie of the imagination, in which the reader encounters, in an intimacy sometimes wild and sometimes captive, a variety of creatures from water fleas to oropendola birds, appearing as specimens to be anatomically examined or as totems enabling the characters to live those parts of themselves otherwise hidden.
Nick Jackson has been writing for about twenty years. He has been published in the independent press in the UK and the USA. Visits to the Flea Circus, his first collection, was published by Elastic Press in 2005. He has worked as a librarian in Belize, Central America and as an adult education tutor. He currently teaches at a secure psychiatric unit and spends the rest of his time birdwatching and looking for snakes and other creeping things.