Explore essays and memoir
Mountains Don’t Know Borders
‘In the Balkans, the present is often perched precariously on top of the past.’
Best book of 1936: Locos
Ingrid Persaud on why Felipe Alfau’s Locos is the best book of 1936.
Getting Away With It
A case of Russian espionage from Tim Phillips' book The Secret Twenties: British Intelligence, the Russians, and the Jazz Age.
The False Lords of Misrule
Peter Pomerantsev takes us on a tour of the lewd, crude language of modern politics – from Trump to Putin to Duterte, Milo Yianopoulos, Boris Johnson and more.
We are living through a period of pop-up populism, where each political movement redefines ‘the Many’ and ‘the People’, where we are always reconsidering who counts as an ‘insider’ or an ‘outsider’, where what it means to belong is never certain.
Brother | State of Mind
‘We don’t often talk seriously or in depth about our childhood these days, but we know we could, and we know what good it did us.’
Marcel Proust’s letters to his neighbour, translated from the French by Lydia Davis.
Ten Books that Changed the World
Martin Puchner on ten books that have changed the course of world history.
‘Writing about other people doesn’t have to be an exercise of power or a theft of identity.’
‘What’s in a state of mind? How do we describe emotions, or the complex relationship between individuals and the state?’
‘The push and pull of identity politics is the child of slavery and empire.’ Ben Rawlence on empire and the construction of white identity.
‘Apartheid had marked him, as it has marked all of us, in different ways. It made me hyper-aware of colour.’
‘They joked about how tough they’d be by the time they got home.’
The Peripatetic Penelope Fitzgerald
Lucy Scholes on the highs, lows and package tours of Booker-prize-winning author Penelope Fitzgerald. ‘Fitzgerald’s life can only be attributed to the caprices of fate.’
Nothing to be afraid of | State of Mind
‘Life in the first person is both magical and terrifying. But it is circumscribed.’ Anil K. Seth on the ties between our brains, bodies and consciousness.
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.
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?’
Coming Home to the Counter-Revolution
‘My Cairo is an inverted city, one that wears its innards above the skin.’
Dead in Venice
‘If I wasn’t a fish spawned in the Brenta river, why was I so compelled to keep returning?’ Masahiko Shimada on his many trips to Venice.
The Tamarind is Always Sour
‘By law, the more than one million Rohingya in Myanmar are almost all excluded from Myanmar citizenship, making them the largest stateless group in the world.’
Gay and Depressed | State of Mind
‘It would be a bit more tolerable if we lived in a society that didn’t blame depression on its victims.’
Wendell Steavenson | Is Travel Writing Dead?
‘Our globalised world of easyJet and Google Translate does not seem to have fostered any greater understanding’
Any Idiot Can Write a Book
A production company is looking for contestants to participate in a new TV show, modelled on The Apprentice. They are seeking unpublished writers who have completed a novel.
Remembering Denis Johnson
When people ask me what Denis was like, I always think about how he listened far more intently than just about any writer I’d ever met.
Desire | State of Mind
‘My burgeoning sense of my own attractiveness, so fragile and recently developed, withered in this less than fertile ground.’
Samanth Subramanian | Is Travel Writing Dead?
‘The first time I ever visited a place I’d read about in a travel book was when my family took a holiday in Hong Kong in 1993.’
Best Book of 1969: Pricksongs & Descants
Lisa Taddeo on why Robert Coover’s Pricksongs & Descants is the best book of 1969.
Brontez Purnell Is Everything
Novelist, zinester, dancer, go-go-boy, punk, filmmaker, actor, performer, Brontez Purnell is everything.
Colin Thubron | Is Travel Writing Dead?
‘The death of travel – and of the travel book – has been predicted for almost a century.’