As 2018 comes to close, here is a collection of the year’s most popular fiction:
‘He could do or say anything he wanted with her and no one would ever find out. It gave him a vertiginous, light-headed feeling to think about it.’ An excerpt from Sally Rooney’s Normal People, longlisted this year for the Man Booker Prize.
‘Papa suddenly appears inside the door and sits down after three months of no-show-face and my happiness just vamoose.’ Efua Traoré is the 2018 winner of the 2018 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Africa with his story of family strife.
‘Was then I realized it was a long time since I actually wanted to do anything. Some fellas buy a Porsche, some lie down on their secretaries, some go to Miami. Me? I was determined to find this mystery woman.’ Kevin Jared Hosein’s ‘Passage’ is the 2018 Commonwealth Short Story Prize overall winner, with his entry from the Caribbean.
As soon as the albatross develops into an adult, it spends four or five years flying across the ocean, ‘barely touching dry land. But instinct, that force almost akin to fate, compels the albatross to return home to settle, not only in their country of origin but just a few metres from the place where they were born.’ Guadalupe Nettel’s story of constant migration, translated from the Spanish by Sophie Hughes.
‘There was no choice, really. Any choice had been taken away bit by bit over the years. He just had to obey. Like always. For the ‘āiga.’ Jenny Bennett-Tuionetoa’s ‘Matalasi’ is the Pacific winner of the 2018 Commonwealth Short Story Prize.
‘He drew his sword and swung it in ﬁgure eights above his head, causing the men around him to scatter under the gunwales. This boy was a nasty item, with a face like a buzzard’s, his cheeks showing more boils than beard. I’d seen him around at home. He had three blackened, chopped-off thumbs reefed to his belt.’ A story from Wells Tower’s iconic collection of the same name, republished this year from our archive.
‘The new cat resembles Panda in that they are both cats. He also resembles Panda in that he is a black cat with white markings. But he is not Panda.’ Cat fiction from Lucy Ives.
‘Tonight, Annette was going to fuck another man, and Frank was going to fuck another woman. That was what was going to happen. And she was excited, she had reminded herself of this fact throughout the afternoon, the weeks.’ John Patrick McHugh – can infidelity make up for infidelity?
‘What the angels didn’t foresee was what a success Christianity would turn out to be. At the time they revealed the apocalypse to John, Christianity was still just a small, insignificant minority religion, something like our UFO sects, and as Christians were greeted with universal suspicion, and then persecuted, tortured and killed, no-one expected them to survive.’ Religion and dissent in an extract from Karl Ove Knausgaard’s A Time for Everything, translated from the Norwegian by James Anderson, and republished this year from our archive.
‘He said things like, “I want to make love to you right now,” while I thought to myself, “I might not even like this person, really”.’ Japanese fiction by Hiromi Kawakami, translated by Allison Markin Powell.
Feature image from Boccaccio ’70, 1962, dir. Luchino Visconti