Explore essays and memoir
The Canvas Bag
‘It was given to her by her Japanese captors after the Fall of Singapore on 15 February 1942 to pack the few possessions she was allowed to take with her to prison.’
Paul Dalla Rosa | Notes on Craft
‘I feel like I’m haunting an empty building, inert, waiting for each room to burst into flames.’
Murasaki’s Paper Trail
Martin Puchner on how Murasaki Shikibu, a lady-in-waiting at the Japanese court, manage to write the first great novel of world literature.
Fred Pearce | Notes on Craft
‘For a hack like me, book-length meta-journalism is both a luxury and a challenge. I cannot hide my own views over 100,000 words, even if I want to.’
Editor and publisher Sigrid Rausing introduces Granta 144: genericlovestory.
What Silence Knows
‘Words can’t quite re-create the smell of war. I have found myself trying to wash it out of my hair, off my fingers. More than once, I have run water over the soles of my shoes.’
The Royal African Society takes a look back at the history of the Africa Writes festival, their annual celebration of contemporary literature from Africa and the diaspora.
The Man Who Lived
Snigdha Poonam on how WhatsApp is being used to encourage mob violence in India.
‘Last year father attacked me as a “wet radish”. This caused me to give up writing diary entries.’
The Editor’s Chair: On Svetlana Alexievich
‘It is clear when reading Svetlana Alexievich that she has a deep empathy for the characters whose stories she tells.’
In the Valley of Coachella
Novelist Susan Straight and photographer Douglas McCulloh on the presidential streets of the ‘real’ Coachella
Pay for Your Words
Peter Pomerantsev downloads his Facebook data. ‘We seem to be caught in a trap: the more we use a word, the more we will be charged for it.’
'I didn't start out a writer, and had no plans of becoming one.' Tatyana Tolstaya, translated from the Russian by Anya Migdal
‘A man-eating tiger was on the prowl when I arrived in Pilibhit one rainy evening in September.’
The Trickster Creates the World
'A Q&A session exploring the writing process with novelist Eden Robinson, her muse Marvin and myself, Fictional Eden Robinson'
All the Devils Are Here
‘A seaside shelter in the middle of autumn – it seems a strange choice.’
Souvankham Thammavongsa | Notes on Craft
‘When I look at a word, I can see the thing inside it. The ear inside heart.’
Best Book of 1990: Anecdotes of Modern Art
‘If I tell you a book is an encyclopedic and fast-paced tour of the interrelationship of making art and being in pain, need I say more?’
Best book of 1936: Locos
Ingrid Persaud on why Felipe Alfau’s Locos is the best book of 1936.
Best Book of 1969: Pricksongs & Descants
Lisa Taddeo on why Robert Coover’s Pricksongs & Descants is the best book of 1969.
Mountains Don’t Know Borders
‘In the Balkans, the present is often perched precariously on top of the past.’
Letter to Razan Zaitouneh
PEN International’s Day of the Imprisoned Writer – we stand in solidarity with writers who have suffered persecution exercising their freedom of expression.
Ten Books that Changed the World
Martin Puchner on ten books that have changed the course of world history.
‘They joked about how tough they’d be by the time they got home.’
The Book Tree
‘I dreamed of dictionaries. I crammed myself with liquorice, honeymoons, caramels.’
L’Arbre aux livres
En ce temps si proche, Dieu était partout et personne ne pouvait l’assassiner.
Getting Away With It
A case of Russian espionage from Tim Phillips' book The Secret Twenties: British Intelligence, the Russians, and the Jazz Age.
Desire | State of Mind
‘My burgeoning sense of my own attractiveness, so fragile and recently developed, withered in this less than fertile ground.’