Explore essays and memoir
Root and Branch
‘I am my father’s daughter, a former prisoner of war and “suspicious person” who spent ten years in the Gulag.’ Translated from the Russian by Polly Gannon.
‘His life was one of calculation and endeavour, of learning and watching, remembering and trying.’
An excerpt from Matt Young's memoir Eat The Apple, which explores his three deployments to Iraq as a member of the US Marine Corps.
Morwari Zafar | Is Travel Writing Dead?
‘What satellites and the internet don’t do is give a voice to experience. And that’s where travel writing endures.’
Sara Wheeler | Is Travel Writing Dead?
‘Mass travel has liberated the form. No amount of package tours will stop ordinary life quietly continuing everywhere on earth.’
‘We do not understand why, nor did we covet such long life, but here we are, our respective addictions and madness with us to the end.’
Since Everything Was Suddening Into A Hurricane
After a sudden stroke, Binyavanga Wainaina and his lover travel to Nairobi to reconcile with his father.
Alexis Wright | Is Travel Writing Dead?
‘In my imagination I have been to many villages and cities in the world.’
Best Book of 1926: Red Cavalry by Isaac Babel
His is a force more penetrative than all the bogus machismo of Hemingway.
Best Book of 2010: Mr Chartwell, by Rebecca Hunt
‘Hunt writes with brio, the visceral often blooming into the mystical.’
First Sentence: Javier Zamora
‘Immigration has become a physical thing, like a tumor inside us, between us.’
‘Climate change, I realise, is already here. Not the drama of it, not yet, but in the mundane.’
Best Book of 1984: Amalgamemnon
Joanna Walsh on why Christine Brooke-Rose's Amalgamemnon is the best book of 1984.
Best Book of 1970: The Collected Works of Billy the Kid
Why Michael Ondaatje's The Collected Works of Billy the Kid is the best book of 1970.
‘There was a time in my life when I lived in hotels. Around this time, the time I did not spend in hotels was time I did not live.’
A Thousand Splendid Stuns
‘More important than anything else that fateful year was the life-defining transcendence of Peter Gabriel.’
Life and Breasts
‘My reminder of mortality came in early 2010, and I found the narrative that followed raw but completely engrossing. For the present, but only for the present, it is behind me.’
In the Shadow of the Hospital
‘All that yearning spilling down amid the treetops and roof ridges, a shadow I’d never properly considered before.’
L.A. Diary: Notes from a Mexikorean Country
‘I was reassured to see that my hotel does not resemble the one in The Shining.’
Women’s Shadow in the American Western
‘The wild is no place for women—the film would seem to say.’
What It’s Like
‘I’d been telling myself I would get there and get through it. I’d been telling myself I was doing the right thing, that no one could escape doing this thing and that was why the thing was right, not wrong.’
Searching for Pavese
‘Something’s gone awry with this article. My intention was to remember, in his birthplace, a writer I admire, and it’s clear that my admiration has waned.’
In Cyberspace: a love letter
‘I’m at a cafe table. It doesn’t matter which country. I’ve been travelling for a long time. By train. Nine, ten different countries in thirty days, a couple of nights in each, maybe three at most.’
Mrs de Pelet
‘I see her with her hands cupped in front of her shouting ‘The “O”, ladies, The Vaginal O’ as we read Shakespeare.’
In the Shadow of John Ascuaga’s Nugget
‘It would be falsely modest to claim that I appreciate the hot dog on any level beneath that of connoisseur.’
Introducing Daniel Galera
‘It’s hard to introduce Daniel Galera’s tale without resorting to adjectives that are more likely to arouse distrust than interest.’
The Metaphoreign Body
‘Finally, I was reduced to a piece of matter, solid and real and mute and totally absorbed inside a foreign system.’
‘I first stepped into Bush House on a dreary November day in 2001. It was a trepid walk.’
‘Peckham is the place of my adolescence, my first cobbled together attempts at dressing myself from the charity shops on Rye Lane.’