Explore essays and memoir
Karen Olsson | Notes on Craft
Karen Olsson shares her notes on the craft of writing: ‘Every book is an unsolvable problem, and yet every time I convince myself I’m just on the verge of cracking it.’
Night on Fire
‘I know what’s going to happen and I know that it’s going to be bizarre.’
Stuck in Trees (with Apologies to Ian Frazier)
‘On 8 January 2018, I noticed a large bunch of purple balloons in a tree near my apartment building.’
The Resurgence of the Monstrous Feminine
‘Despite the sheer and uncommunicable amount of violence enacted upon the female body throughout history, it’s woman as terroriser, as beast, that we keep coming back to.’
Fatima Farheen Mirza on navigating gender roles in a Muslim family, wearing hijab and learning how to box.
The Way to the Sea
‘Alone in the silent dark, she traversed the mouth of the estuary in mile-long sweeps, making a little more progress up the river each time she turned. Wind and tide were pushing her away, back towards the sea.’
Mother and Son:
Life and Fate
‘Nothing made her happier than to sacrifice herself for her son’s happiness.’
Distributed Denial of Service
‘Once you learn to seal the shell, to make it watertight, you can let anything roil around in there.’
The Ungrateful Refugee
‘I was born in 1979, a year of revolution, and grew up in wartime.’ Dina Nayeri on growing up in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
How I Write My Books
Anne Serre on how she writes. Translated from the French by Mark Hutchinson.
Obsessed with a single line from Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness – Kurtz’s injunction to ‘Exterminate All the Brutes’ – Sven Lindqvist set out across Central Africa, and wrote a book that revealed precisely what Europe’s imperial powers had exacted on Africa’s people over the course of the preceding two centuries.
Pajtim Statovci | Notes on Craft
‘My childhood was pierced not only by the violence in Kosovo but also by the violence my immigrant family was confronted with in Finland.’
The Fall of Saigon
‘I wanted to see a communist victory, which I presumed to be inevitable. I wanted to see the fall of a city.’
‘It was a harsh and brutal puberty: the tiny creatures began to fret, as if an inner sense had forewarned them of the torment in store’
The Imam and the Indian
‘We were both travelling, he and I: we were travelling in the West. The only difference was that I had actually been there, in person.’
‘I naively believed as a child that I would always have a father present, and the truth seems to be that I always will.’
‘I prefer not to speculate about what might have happened if I had not taken the ECG.’
The Snow in Ghana
‘We always carry it to foreign countries, all over the world, our pride and our powerlessness.’ Translated from the Polish by William Brand.
The Zoo in Basel
‘To create is to let take over something which did not exist before and is therefore new.’
Dreams for Hire
‘The wave had erupted with such force that it obliterated the glass lobby.‘ Translated from the Spanish by Nick Caistor.
Bill Buford on his decision to resign as editor of this magazine, which he relaunched in its present form in 1979.
Where is Kigali?
‘Evariste was the nightwatchman. He and I were alone in the house in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, when the killing started.’
Those Who Felt Differently
‘Could grief for one woman have caused all this? We were told so.’
‘It was through my mother that I grew more aware of my body as incredibly fraught and problematic.‘
‘I thought so highly of Vidia’s writing and felt his presence on our list to be so important that I simply could not allow myself not to like him.’
‘When I was seeing Kilty (how, even today, the word 'seeing' mesmerizes me), the fact of my blindness was never mentioned, referred to, or alluded to’.