Explore essays and memoir
Soon Comes Night
‘I’d become so used to hiding away inside myself I couldn’t respond with any spontaneity. I was stuck in the shallows of my emotions.’ Ekow Eshun on success, night terrors and therapy.
Notes on a Suicide
‘The problem was that, for the most part, it did not matter how widely broadcast your discontent was: no one cared.’
Out of the Cradle
‘What had formerly been a sedative, a tranquilizing soporific, had morphed into a facilitator of reflection, contemplation, deliberation, even inspiration.’
‘The idea that football might provide an opportunity to overcome our dumber instincts seemed ridiculous now: football was a chance to set our idiocy free.’
Amit Chaudhuri | First Sentence
‘A scene in which nothing is ostensibly happening will absorb me; so will a paragraph that contains no vital piece of information.’
Russia on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
‘The Russian people suffer from a victim complex: they believe that nothing depends on them, and by them nothing can be changed.’
Microtravel: Home and Away
‘The place I thought I knew best had become unknown territory, by the perhaps not-so-simple process of taking a few steps.’
I Am Lying
‘Findings show that the bigger the brain, the more frequent the deceit.’ Miranda Doyle on why we lie.
Things I Didn’t Know
‘When people would ask me what I was doing in Istanbul, I would explain that I’m a freelance writer and translator, and I move a lot. I move intuitively, I would say: places call to me.’
Elif Batuman | Is Travel Writing Dead?
‘The power imbalance built into travel writing is just a heightened version of an imbalance that’s there in all writing.’
The Back Way and the Way Back
Despite emerging from two decades of misrule under Yahya Jammeh, many Gambians still aspire to go ‘the back way’ into Europe.
An Island Presence
‘I can almost believe in the permanence of these warm days, this unchanging child whose hand fits mine. But I can feel the cold and the darkness coming.’
Carys Davies on how the settlement of the American West can help us understand Donald Trump’s nativism.
Between Great Fires
‘This is the perennial anxiety – that at any moment, day or night, you might be snatched and shackled and tried and sent back.’
Rana Dasgupta | Is Travel Writing Dead?
‘This is a literature of checkpoints and fences, and the improvised gaps through which desperate people pass.’
Tara Bergin | Is Travel Writing Dead?
‘If you laugh and tell me I am only speaking metaphorically, I will reply: what other way do you expect me to speak?’
The Comrades and I
Mona Abouissa on her experiences with Egyptian communists, and the role they played in Egypt before 1952, when they were excised from official history.
Best Book of 1982: Dictee by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha
‘While the terrible pain of speech is made clear, this book ultimately reminds us that we must not be silenced.’
Best Book of 1971: Malina by Ingeborg Bachmann
‘The novel submits to an internalized discipline: it is an observation machine’
Best Book of 2008: To the End of the Land, by David Grossman
‘David Grossman is a writer who speaks to the heart, and this is his masterpiece.’
Sweet William: A Memoir of Old Horse, by John Hawkes | Best Book of 1993
‘Plunged inside the skin of the horse, I felt his sensory burdens, sufferings and fears: his keen sensitivity to sound, smell and touch (even the weight of a saddle)’
Best Book of 1943: Love In A Fallen City by Eileen Chang
‘Eileen Chang writes perfectly for the romantic in an unromantic and unrelenting world.’
The Best Books of Any Year: Three Variations on Post-Truth
‘2016 is almost over but the impact of this year’s political events will reverberate around the globe for decades.’
Best Book of 1991: Mao II by Don DeLillo
‘The ultimate goal of each act of art, each work of terror, is to demolish the old, incumbent reality, and create a new one.’
When Denmark Criminalised Kindness
‘We now know that it is a criminal offence to help refugees in distress.’
Diary of a Gulag Prison Guard
‘Freedom, even with hunger and cold, is still precious and irreplaceable.’
He Had His Reasons
Colin Barrett on the Hawe family murder-suicide, and what the Irish media’s coverage tells us about the nation’s prejudices.
‘The poor hated the poor, natives hated outsiders, settled migrants hated new incomers, the North hated the South, non-Londoners hated London.’
The Politics of English Forgetfulness
‘Brexit demonstrates one of England’s most trusted strategies of power: deliberate forgetfulness.’
Free will and Brexit
‘Whether or not you think 23 June was a great day for Britain and Europe, it was a very bad one for freedom.’
‘There’s a sense, I think, that what that X in the box translates as is seventeen and a half million voices that say, we’re still here.’