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A Bizarre Courtship

Ben Okri

‘One morning, more golden than yellow, I went outside to our housefront and saw that the beggars had gone.‘

A Blow to the Head

A.L. Kennedy

‘I am looking for my dead grandfather in the British Library.’

A Bosnian Alphabet

Lawrence Norfolk

‘APOLOGY: A should be for Alphabet: the device I am resorting to in some desperation to structure my thoughts on this subject: my relations vis-à-vis two Yugoslavian wars.‘

A Childhood in Broadmoor Hospital

Patrick McGrath

‘These were the friends of my early boyhood, men who twenty years earlier would still have been called ‘criminal lunatics’.‘

A Childhood in Terezin

Ivan Klíma

‘I am trying to reach, in memory, a time before the war began.’

A Clean Marriage

Sayaka Murata

‘Frequency of sex since marriage: zero.’ Sayaka Murata on a sexless marriage and the ‘Clean Breeder’ technique for pleasureless reproduction.

A Cock Fight

Charles Nicholl

‘And now, the night before the fight, with the moon high and nearing the full, came the final preparation: we were taking him to Auguste.’

A Dose of Winter Medicine

Kseniya Melnik

‘I looked at the carpet in her small living room. This is where she had fallen and lay for twenty-four hours before her younger sister, Auntie Tanya, had found her.’

A Double-Income Family

Deepti Kapoor

When Mrs Mehra leaves Delhi she retires in one of ‘the vast new satellite townships on the eastern fringes of the metropolis’.

A Fan Letter

Stewart O’Nan

‘Before I begin I'd like to say that I'll try to remember everything as best I can, though sometimes I know it won't be right.’

A Fish Out of Water

Mario Vargas Llosa

‘A democracy, I said, is driven by the electoral process, and in elections there are victories and defeats.’

A Garden of Illuminating Existence

Kanitta Meechubot

‘Witnessing her death, I understand the meaning of love.’

A Good Man is Hard to Find

Duncan McLean

‘I thought I heard the woman next door crying’

A Hebrew Sibyl

Cynthia Ozick

‘And so began what I was to become. To all these things – the admonitions and the testimonies, the rites and the annunciations – I had easily acquiesced.’

A Kidnapped West or Culture Bows Out

Milan Kundera

‘But since Europe itself is in the process of losing its own cultural identity, it perceives in Central Europe nothing but a political regime; put another way, it sees in Central Europe only Eastern Europe.’

A Killing

Katherine Faw Morris

COKE SMELLS COLD AND CHEMICAL LIKE THE INSIDE OF A REFRIGERATOR. It’s what back then smells like, now when she thinks of it.

A Land Without Strangers

Ben Mauk

Ben Mauk on nationalism and xenophobia in Poland.

A Letter

Sławomir Mrożek

‘I draw your attention to football. The practice of this game threatens the basis of our very way of life.’

A Mason’s Hand | New Voices

Ali Akbar Natiq

‘Haji sahib, these kids are beyond me. I can’t teach them any more. Please make some other arrangement.’

A Meeting of Minds with Henry David Thoreau

Andrew Motion

‘What am I doing here more than looking – / which I would stop / only to help things through their vanishing’

A Mischief of Rats

Joanna Kavenna

‘They slept curled together in a hammock, little scraps of fur, hearts beating madly.’ Joanna Kavenna on her pet rats, Kat Bjelland and Courtney Love.

A Not-So-Pretty History of Pet Care

Daniel Magariel

‘One day after the next I would figure out what was needed, learn from my mistakes, pay attention to what worked.’

A Queer Streak Part One: Anonymous Letters

Alice Munro

‘She would never know why she had done it. She was sleepless and strung-up and her better judgement had deserted her.’

A Queer Streak Part Two: Possession

Alice Munro

‘He thinks he remembers Violet coming for supper, as she sometimes did, bringing with her a pudding which she set outside in the snow, to keep it cool.’

A Spell For Going Safely Forth By Day

Jynne Martin

‘The hunter pushes a bullet beneath his tongue to fix his aim, / or is it to stave off his thirst?

A Time for Everything

Karl Ove Knausgaard

‘It can almost seem as if God was genuinely concerned about mankind.’ Translated by James Anderson.

A Tour of Angola

Ryszard Kapuściński

‘You have to learn how to live with the check-points and to respect their customs, if you want to travel without hindrance and reach your destination alive.’

A Train in Winter

Caroline Moorehead

‘It was clear that not all would, or could, or would choose to, survive.’

A Trip to Syria

David McConnell

‘Several years ago, a friend and I stayed at the one hotel set amid the ruins of Queen Zenobia’s oasis capital, Palmyra, in the Syrian desert.’

A very young Dancer

Todd McEwen

‘I have a snapshot of the two of us: late on a summer afternoon we're playing in an inflatable wading pool.‘

A Walk to Kobe

Haruki Murakami

‘What I’m talking about is a different sea, and different mountains.’ Haruki Murakami walks to his hometown after the Great Hanshin earthquake of 1995.

A Warsaw Diary

Ryszard Kapuściński

‘In Poland we read every text as allusive; every situation described - even the most remote in time and space - is immediately applied to Poland.’

A.L. Kennedy | First Sentence

A.L. Kennedy

‘I have never seen anyone eat figs in the street and feel I am unsurprised.’

A.L. Kennedy | God and Me

A.L. Kennedy

‘Faith: the greater it is, the more unsupported it must be’

About Her and the Memories That Belong to Her

Mieko Kawakami

‘If I were to forget, then it would be the same as it never having existed at all.’

Abuse, Silence, and the Light That Virginia Woolf Switched On

April Ayers Lawson

When Virginia Woolf was thirteen, she was abused by her half-brother George Duckworth. No one believed her - not even her biographers. April Ayers Lawson on Woolf's abuse, and her own.