Best Book of 1901: The Octopus
Rob Magnuson Smith on why Frank Norris' The Octopus is the best book of 1901.
Best Book of 1955: Pedro Páramo
Louise Stern on why Pedro Páramo is the best book of 1955.
Bad Luck, Britain
‘It was a wonderful day of high summer in the Stockholm archipelago.’
Introduction: What Have We Done
‘There is an apocalyptic feeling in the air. I write the day after the news that the IS have blown up parts of the ancient site of Palmyra.’
The Middle Ages: Approaching the Question of a Terminal Date
‘What is left? What is he to wrap himself in, now that everything has floated off into space?’
‘didn’t antlers grow from his head / whenever my mother’s back was turned?’
‘To the delight of the little kids, who had seen a good deal of killing in their lives, a middle-aged man blew soap bubbles.’
Refugees and Europe: The Swedish Exception
‘What would it take to turn the downward spiral of anti-refugee policies around?’
Five Things Right Now: Max Porter
Max Porter, author of Grief is the Thing with Feathers, shares five things he’s reading, watching and thinking about.
If You Were a Bluebird
‘So the dolphins talks, talks, over thirty distinguishable sounds.’
‘Possession takes many forms, and at the heart of it is death and dereliction, invasion and submission.’
‘The brain is a bureaucratic organ with an almost neurotic determination to balance its books. To account to the department of logic for terror, it calls on the office of imagination to conjure up a worthy vision.’
To Rio de Janeiro
‘In the end, what one understands in Rio de Janeiro is that joy is the only coherence of a living being.’
‘You didn’t know where you wanted to end up, had never considered how much time you had left.’
A Woman’s Worth
Rajeswari Sunder Rajan on the evolution of feminist judgments in India.
From The Abstract Humanities
‘let us / build the openwork fabric of our garden / on the fear in the body’
‘She felt things under the skin: scars where the body had torn during childbirth, clumps of cellulite, lobules and ducts.’
‘After one hundred years, this is what I have: a daguerreotype of her in bridal finery; a few stories told and retold in plantations, kitchens, hospitals, airport lounges.’
Introduction: The Map Is Not the Territory
‘The pieces in this issue of Granta are all concerned, in one way or another, with the difference between the world as we see it and the world as it actually is, beyond our faulty memories and tired understanding.’
‘It was her last service, last sacrifice, to a husband who required so much from her throughout their life together. But we could not succeed.’
Look Out, Narendran!
A madman is dead set on blowing up the Taj Mahal, and there’s only one pair of detectives who can stop him. Tamil Pulp Fiction at its best.
‘He said Love Jihad, or the practice of Muslims seducing Hindu girls with the aim of converting them to Islam, was an existential threat to India.’
‘There are clubs like the Breach Candy Club all over the Indian subcontinent: relics of the Raj, institutions that were set up as bolt-holes for the British, where they could retreat to row or swim or play cricket or race horses.’
Vinod Kumar Shukla: Two Poems
‘The truth is, though no one says it, / They’re all worried about their children.’
The Afterlife of Trees and Their Lovers
‘It is difficult to imagine a history of trees / without man in it. Man as tree, Tree as tale.’
‘That single moment’s intensity hasn’t been matched in my life before or since. A woman who I didn’t know has chosen to accept me, in body and mind.’
‘In Indian media and advertising, young people are mainly being projected as vessels of breathless aspiration.’
‘A single pod of cardamom! Was that enough? To flavour an entire life’s pot of time?’