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4 3 2 1: Overture

Paul Auster

‘According to family legend, Ferguson’s grandfather departed on foot from his native city of Minsk with one hundred rubles sewn into the lining of his jacket’

A Bar on North Avenue

Roger Ebert

‘We regulars knew each other. We dated each other. We slept with each other.’

A Cloudless Sky

Michael Dickman

‘A cloudless sky and I’m back / an ice-cold sky-blue rag / for my eyes’

A Coup

Bruce Chatwin

‘We are having another little change of politics. Nothing more! In these situations one must keep calm. You understand? Calm!’

A Day in the Life in El Salvador

Manlio Argueta

‘I have not failed you, José. I understand that you were saying goodbye when you opened your eye, and that, besides greeting me, you were expressing your pride in me, seeing me standing with my arm around the shoulders of your granddaughter.’

A Feudal Outpost in Mount Lebanon

Lana Asfour

‘Intelligent, unpredictable, occasionally ruthless, Jumblatt shows that he is still very much in the game.’

A Few Words about Fake Breasts

Nell Boeschenstein

‘You repeat this over and over. You pinch your nipples harder. Then harder and harder still. You twist them. You dare them to say Mercy. You stare into your own eyes that are watching you from the mirror.’

A Gentle Madness

Humera Afridi

‘Pakistan is a nation of memory keepers. We feed our memories as if they are guests at tea, pay homage to them.’

A History

William Cooper

‘She was fighting for breath, fighting to live, perhaps fighting not to leave us.’

A Job on the Line

Desmond Barry

‘The atmosphere in the house was thick with my father's depression.’

A Kept Woman

Laura Bell

‘I find myself walking the high trail between fear and love.’

A Letter to my Sons: War’s End

Heinrich Böll

‘No, it's not easier for you than it was for us: don't let them tell you otherwise.’

A Letter to Our Son

Peter Carey

‘We talked about Alison’s blood. We asked her what she thought this mystery could be. Really what we wanted was to be told that everything was OK. There was a look on Alison's face when she asked. I cannot describe it, but it was not a face seeking medical “facts”.’

A Literature for Politics: Introduction

Bill Buford

‘‘A Literature for Politics' is dedicated to a different set of possibilities - the possibilities of political engagement.’

A Numbered Graph That Shows How Each Part of the Body Would Fit Into A Chair

Mary Jo Bang

‘It’s a simple truth that one can occupy two / places at one time while sitting in a chair—the same way a / poseable doll can be divided from her dress.’

A Pinch of Salt

Andrea Brady

‘When we’re close to weaning / ourselves history gives us its reasons / to return’

A Plug for Bukowski

Henry Davis

‘There is an American literature that is anti-intellectual, apolitical and anti-social.’

A Poet in Cuba

Reinaldo Arenas

‘Perfect totalitarian systems have always been in the vanguard: they modify not only the past and the future, but they also abolish the present.’

A Rationalist in the Jungle

Héctor Abad

‘A pale-faced, near-sighted urbanite like me is nothing less than handicapped in the heart of the jungle.’

A Revolution of Equals

Lana Asfour

‘Women have rights and we’re not going to lose them now.’

A Sentence of Love

Assia Djebar

‘I met Annie for the first time in 1995, in Algiers. A friend of my sister's, she came from Paris and stayed with me for one night.’

A Story for Aesop

John Berger

‘The image impressed me when I set eyes upon it for the first time. It was as if it were already familiar, as if, as a child, I had already seen the same man framed in a doorway.’

A Summer of Japanese Literature

Dan Bradley

From manga to crime fiction, contemporary literature to Nobel-Prize-winning classics, here are ten works of Japanese literature worth spending your summer on

A True Afrikaner

Mary Benson

‘What first struck me was his courtesy: it never faltered even when some remark by the prosecutor or an action by the police angered him, hardening the expression in his blue eyes.’

A Vacation From Myself

John Beckman

‘My every next thought took a melancholy detour through drippy forests of humid emotions, often never to return’

A Wedding

Anita Brookner

‘The bride and groom were there all the time, in the centre, as they should be. A good-looking couple. But lifeless, figures from stock.’

A Wooden Taste Is the Word for Dam a Wooden Taste Is the Word for Dam a Wooden Taste Is the Word For

Jesse Ball

‘My friends, what I mean is, this life is shallow like a plate. It goes no further.’

Abbottabad Pastoral

Humera Afridi

‘Until now, I had never experienced a disaster, or witnessed mass suffering and death close up.’

Abingdon Square

André Aciman

‘Your problem is not that you misread signs; it’s that you see them everywhere.’

Ablutions

Patrick deWitt

An animated video including a reading from Patrick deWitt’s novel Ablutions.

About the Cover

Stanley Donwood

‘I took myself off to the woods, the fragments of the great forests that once spread over our continent.’

About the Cover

Jake and Dinos Chapman

‘My attempts are mocked by the monstrosities that leer up at me from the page.’

According to Your Will

Naomi Alderman

‘Thank you, God,’ said the boys, ‘for not making me a woman.’ ‘Thank you, God,’ said the girls, ‘for making me according to Your will.’

Acts of Infidelity

Lena Andersson

‘Anticipation made it difficult for Ester to swallow.’ Translated from the Swedish by Saskia Vogel.