Explore essays and memoir
A Walk to Kobe
‘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.
How It Ends
‘Seagulls murmur overhead, and nip at the banks. You can hear almost nothing.’
Interesting if True
‘The end of the war in the Pacific came just before I left school.’
Cary Grant’s Suit
‘North by Northwest isn't a film about what happens to Cary Grant, it's about what happens to his suit.’
The Press Officer
‘The threat of Fujimori was well hidden. There was nothing we could do: the die was cast.’
The Magic Box
‘It never gets dark in Times Square. Sometimes I’d wake at two or three or four and watch waves of neon pass through my room.’ An essay on David Wojnarowicz's work, life and archives.
An Escape from Kampala
‘‘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.’
My Father’s Life
‘Six days a week he rose early, dressed, ate breakfast alone, put on his hat, and walked to his barbershop at 207 Henry Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, about half a mile from our apartment.’
The Writing of ‘Or Shall We Die?’
‘There was too the challenge, as I saw it, of writing a singable English, simple and clear, that could express public themes without pomposity and private feelings without bathos.’
Maud Newton | Portrait of My Father
‘Exactly how long the prostitute, unbeknownst to my father, stayed at our house and slept in my bed is hard to gauge.’
Watching the Rain in Galicia
‘Only then did I understand where my grandmother had got that credulity which allowed her to live in a supernatural world in which everything was possible and where rational explanations were totally lacking in validity.’
The Conflicted Legacy of Meles Zenawi
‘Meles Zenawi’s legacy is as complicated as the life he chose to live, under a name (Meles) that he took from a fallen comrade during his days as a guerrilla fighter. ’
‘Essex is the ugliest county. I only went there to be able to work in peace and quiet and get away from the settlers from London south of the river.’
Now A Major Motion Picture
‘None of these high-falutin pansy-ass would-be 'technologies' are going to save literature.’
‘Life is full of customs whose roots can no longer be traced ... but in any event, why were pig's feet obligatory with lentils, and cheese on macaroni?’
The Lord in his Wisdom
‘I realize with a fresh horror that Jonathan is seeing me as the sin’
The Emily Dickinson Series
The Emily Dickinson Series is a collection of collages by Janet Malcolm that appear in Granta 126: do you remember.
Letter from Gaza
‘It is difficult not to see the assassination of Ghassan Kanafani as an attempt to obliterate the Palestinian narrative.’
The Ascent of Man
‘One June dusk in 1999 I found myself walking across a rice field near Fishing Pond, in east Trinidad, in the company of a game warden and a self-described naturalist-at-large sometimes known as the Turtle Man.’
The Chelsea Affect
‘Despite parboiling myself in the shower a few times I began to like the hotel’.
‘Bradford, I felt, was a place I had to see for myself, because it seemed that so many important issues, of race, culture, nationalism, and education, were evident in an extremely concentrated way.’
Deeper into the Heart of Borneo (Part II)
‘James, resplendent in leopard skin and hornbill feathers, looked even more solemn than is his habit.’
Lessons from a Hustler
‘With Buck, pool was clearly an intellectual exercise and he was scarily cool at the table.’
Yiyun Li | First Sentence
‘But for her, and perhaps for many, the solidity of an invented life is not trustworthy.’
‘We want to believe that we will die with dignity; that death is a confrontation and the battle is somewhat fair.’
Remembering Iain M Banks
Stuart Kelly remembers Iain Banks, and assesses the influence he's had on this generation of writers.
‘It was a clear, uncomplicated space, a brand image, a label that could be stuck on a billion sauce bottles.’
The Weather in Mongolia
‘Back in Ulanbataar, we went to Narmandakh's flat on the fourth floor of a grey, Soviet-style block in a crowd of other Soviet-style blocks’.
Do I Owe You Something?
‘In the fall of 1971, Rome enjoyed an unbroken skein of bright crisp mornings and balmy afternoons that stretched on into November’.