Granta | The Magazine of New Writing

Explore essays and memoir


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 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 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 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 Letter

Sławomir Mrożek

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

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’

Airports: Frontier Nations

Andrés Neuman

‘1.In the waiting area of the Málaga airport for departing flights, a flock of birds nests on the beams. They fly back and forth across the high ceiling.’


Javier Marías

‘We live in an age that tends to depersonalize even people and is, in principle, averse to anthropomorphism.’

Amazon Adventure

Redmond O’Hanlon

‘Having spent two months travelling in the primary rain forests of Borneo, I thought that a four-month journey in the country between the Orinoco River in Venezuela and the Amazon in Brazil would pose no particular problem.’

American Folk

Greil Marcus

‘Smith placed murder ballads, explosions of religious ecstasy, moral warnings and hedonistic revels on the same plane of value and meaning’

Among Chickens

Jonathan Miller

‘The joke makes us aware that we have complex notions about those things for which we can be praised and blamed, those things which could be said to be voluntary or involuntary, those things which we can do half-heartedly, those things which we do flat out and those things we can't help.’

Among the Pipemen

Andrew Martin

‘It was as though, after a period of wariness, my pipe had warmed to me.’

An Accidental Spy

Phillip Knightley

‘The CIA had become concerned about Soviet influence in India in the early 1960s.’

An Escape from Kampala

Wycliffe Kato

‘‘Be brave,’ she said, ‘pull yourself together. What you are about to see is worse than you ever imagined.’ She asked if I knew what Winston Churchill had called Uganda. He had called it the pearl of Africa.’

Andrew O’Hagan | A London View

Andrew O'Hagan

‘I used to wake up next to Boadicea.’

Ange Mlinko | First Sentence

Ange Mlinko

‘I rediscovered the efficacy of meter (or the ‘contrast between fixity and flux’) when I was stuck in a shark tunnel with my kids and was afraid I was coming down with a panic attack.’

Anlong Veng | Dispatches

Elena Lesley

‘There are no words to say how angry I am. I want to know why they killed their own people. I want answers.’

Aphrodisiacs I Have Known

Norman Lewis

‘In the winter of 1957, I went to Liberia for the New Yorker.’


Albino Ochero-Okello

‘As I stood in front of the immigration officer, I was already worrying about my answers to the questions he might ask’.


Pankaj Mishra

‘Bollywood is part of what our culture has become. We are lying to ourselves all the time.’

Baby Clutch

Adam Mars-Jones

‘Endlessly we reformulate our feelings for each other.’

Bad Nature

Javier Marías

‘I saw him slipping into belligerence, the ghost of James Dean descended upon him and sent a shiver down my spine.’

Baht ’At

Blake Morrison

‘I'd already begun to suspect that sex brought misery or death, and now I knew.’