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All that Offers a Happy Ending Is a Fairy Tale

Yiyun Li

‘If you were like me, you would know the obsession of the compulsive reader: every street sign; every bottle label’

Best Book of 1900: The Autobiography of Dr William Henry Johnson

Jennifer Kabat

‘Johnson is now a ghost of history; he doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page, but I can’t let him disappear.’

Best Book of 1941: Consider the Oyster by M.F.K. Fisher

Harriet Moore

‘This book is about yearning for the Sunday nights of childhood, or dreams; it is a meditation on hunger in all its forms.’

Best Book of 1955: The Magician’s Nephew

Josie Mitchell

‘Much like Tolkien’s, admittedly vaster, legendarium, Lewis’s world is exquisitely conceived.’

Best book of 1964: Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby Jr

Lisa McInerney

‘In days of such human cruelty and pettiness and stupidity, we need reminding that we are all capable of savage compassion as well as the contagion of hatred.’

Best Book of 1965: Everything That Rises Must Converge

April Ayers Lawson

‘O’Conner has for me the effect of nailing and then blowing up one’s most casual illusions’

Best book of 1983: The Piano Teacher by Elfriede Jelinek

Sophie Mackintosh

‘After 2016 I’m done with sentimentality, and it’s hard to think of a less sentimental book than The Piano Teacher, objectively a masterpiece, subjectively a book that changed my life.’

Best Book of 1998: 253

Carmen Maria Machado

Carmen Maria Machado on why Geoff Ryman’s 253 is the best book of 1998.

Best Book of 2000: The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt

Anne Meadows

‘It is the novel I have read which best expresses the honest and sad truth of art: that it is often produced in precarity and performed in near silence, but that it can also redeem a life.’

Best Book of 2015: Thus Were Their Faces by Silvina Ocampo

Valerie Miles

‘Time is a rubber band, and in a single sentence, ghosts and alternative worlds superimpose’

Best Book of 2016: Joanne Kyger’s On Time

Hoa Nguyen

Hoa Nguyen on why Joanne Kyger’s On Time is the best book of 2016.

Best Story of 1992: ‘Mlle. Dias de Corta’

Mary O’Donoghue

Mary O’Donoghue on why Mavis Gallant‘s ‘Mlle. Dias de Corta’ is the best story of 1992.

First Sentence: Mary O’Donoghue

Mary O’Donoghue

‘It’s the small stuff – and here I mean the odd particulate matter of daily life – that lets me access the sprawl of a place that wasn’t mine but has incrementally become so.’

Hell and Night

Noelle Kocot-Tomblin

‘The implication of Iago’s silence is that there is no hope for his redemption’ Noelle Kocot-Tomblin on ‘Othello’.

Here Be Dragons | Discoveries

Josie Mitchell

A round-up of maps, literary, diagrammatic, chaotic and specific. Maps of London, maps of literature, maps of maps.

Mother and Father

Thomas Kilroy

‘Like most wars, this was a war of the young.’ Thomas Kilroy on his parents’ experience of the Anglo-Irish War and the Irish civil war.

Polymorphous Perversity | Discoveries

Josie Mitchell

New erotica from Anaïs Nin; Emily Dickinson’s bedroom; Isaac Asimov’s dystopias, interracial love circa 1963 and more.

Shakespeare for Children

Sarah Moss

‘I can’t think, my mother said as we sat down, why people think a play that’s all about unsanctioned sexual desire is suitable for little girls.’

Shifting Ground

Una Mullally

‘Living in the only democratic country in the world with a constitutional ban on abortion, I felt an acute and visceral shame.’

The Fairytale

Jennifer Kabat

‘In Hollin Hills, we believed our flatware could change the world.’ Jennifer Kabat on the intersection of modernist architecture and espionage.

The Fall of Rome | Discoveries

Josie Mitchell

Word of the Year 2016: Post-Truth; Don DeLillo on the enemy in the White House; Leonard Cohen, the novelist; Ariel Levy’s Thanksgiving in Mongolia.

The Unknown Known | Discoveries

Josie Mitchell

A round-up of things we love, from all over the internet.

The Very Ecstasy of Love | Discoveries

Josie Mitchell

Zadie on Beyoncé, Didion on diarists, Bureaucracy as Sadism, How Did They Win that prize? and more.

Thomas Pynchon Found! | Discoveries

Josie Mitchell

The politics of outing writers with pseudonyms, the power of Nell Zink’s first sentences, and Trump fiction.

Who are the Campbells? | Discoveries

Josie Mitchell

Our latest discoveries from the literary internet, from the new selfishness epidemic to artistic theft.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Werewoolf? | Discoveries

Josie Mitchell

Sylvia Plath’s sass, Bob Dylan spars with Leonard Cohen, Guillermo del Toro talks vampires, Shirley Jackson scares the baby boomers