Explore essays and memoir
'I didn't start out a writer, and had no plans of becoming one.' Tatyana Tolstaya, translated from the Russian by Anya Migdal
A Few Words about Fake Breasts
‘You repeat this over and over. You pinch your nipples harder. Then harder and harder still. You twist them. You dare them to say Mercy. You stare into your own eyes that are watching you from the mirror.’
A Mischief of Rats
‘They slept curled together in a hammock, little scraps of fur, hearts beating madly.’ Joanna Kavenna on her pet rats, Kat Bjelland and Courtney Love.
A New Front Line
Lindsey Hilsum shows how investigative reporting has become just as dangerous as frontline correspondence. ‘Investigative reporters are in more peril than ever and the front line has come to Europe.’
A Not-So-Pretty History of Pet Care
‘One day after the next I would figure out what was needed, learn from my mistakes, pay attention to what worked.’
A Summer of Japanese Literature
From manga to crime fiction, contemporary literature to Nobel-Prize-winning classics, here are ten works of Japanese literature worth spending your summer on
Above the Tree Line
Teva Harrison visits and illustrates the Northwest Passage through the Canadian arctic for Granta 141: Canada
‘Silence allows me to pretend that this happened to someone else a long time ago, and not to me.’
Abuse, Silence, and the Light That Virginia Woolf Switched On
When Virginia Woolf was thirteen, she was abused by her half-brother George Duckworth. No one believed her - not even her biographers. April Ayers Lawson on Woolf's abuse, and her own.
Addressing Mental Health Through Reading Well
‘Reading Well is more than just a booklist – it represents the power of reading to change lives.’
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.
‘I again told him I wasn’t ready to have sex, and his only response was to lean in and kiss me. The hallway in which we walked seemed to be shrinking, closing in on us.’ – April Ayers Lawson on intimacy after sexual abuse.
Ali Fitzgerald | Notes on Craft
Notes on crafting a graphic memoir from Ali Fitzgerald.
All Hail the Holy Bone
‘It is part angel, part lepidopteran, part Rorschach inkblot.’
All the Devils Are Here
‘A seaside shelter in the middle of autumn – it seems a strange choice.’
‘I would peel wrappers off sandwiches, remove noodles from their boxes, fry up meat before any authorities had the chance to track me and my bounty down.’
‘The title of this series of photographs is Animal Studies, but I am not sure about that second word. A noun or a verb? A thing or an action? Are these studies of animals or are these animals studying?’ Alexander MacLeod introduces the photography of Elliot Ross.
Best Book of 1919: The Years Between by Rudyard Kipling
Robert Chandler on why The Years Between by Rudyard Kipling is the best book of 1919
Best Book of 1921: Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
‘I wanted to understand the world and why it hurt, and soon I stumbled on the Tractatus’ Will Harris on the best book of 1921.
Best Book of 1934: Bruno Schulz’s Cinnamon Shops (Sklepy cynamonowe)
David Hayden on why Bruno Schulz’s Cinnamon Shops (Sklepy cynamonowe) is the best book of 1934.
Best Book of 1935: Junichiro Tanizaki’s The Secret History of the Lord of Musashi
Naben Ruthnum on the best book of 1935: Junichiro Tanizaki's The Secret History of the Lord of Musashi.
Best Book of 1947: Call Me Ishmael by Charles Olson
Chris Power on the Best Book of 1947: Call Me Ishmael by Charles Olson.
Best Book of 1949: The Thief’s Journal
‘To read it is to feel the alternative tempo in the rude repetitions of the thief who loves to steal.’
Best Book of 1953/1994: Trans-Atlantyk
‘The most Polish novel of the twentieth century was written in Argentina and published in France.’
Best Book of 1966: Season of Migration to the North
‘Of course, literature cannot be separated from its flesh of language and form. Nor can its tangible subject explain why it moves its reader, through the subtleties of language, or the shadowy geographies that it leaves to the imagination.’
Best Book of 1996: The Lost Lunar Baedeker
‘Mina Loy has been a preferred voice in my head, echoing with a signature delirious chant as a kind of primordial poetry mother.’
Best Book of 1999: Ai’s Vice
‘I love Ai’s work because it gives me permission and reminds me that poetry invented fiction. I needed that in 1999 and I need it today.’
Best Book of 2005: Zadie Smith’s On Beauty
Caoilinn Hughes on why Zadie Smith’s On Beauty is the best book of 2005
Best Book of 2009: William Vollmann’s Imperial
Sam Byers on why William Vollmann’s Imperial is the best book of 2009
Best Book of 2011: Kingdom Animalia
‘As the title suggests, this is a book about the family of animals, the family of man, and the family of family.’
Best Book of 2012: Unmastered: A Book on Desire, Most Difficult to Tell, by Katherine Angel
Rebecca Watson on the best book of 2012: Unmastered, by Katherine Angel.
Best Book of 2013: Tom Drury’s Pacific
‘There is a remarkable flow to the novel, like that aimless but essential drunken chatter after your third pint.’ John Patrick McHugh on why Tom Drury’s Pacific is the best book of 2013.
Bohemian Rhapsody in Five Acts
Tiffany Murray on living with Freddie Mercury as a child.