Explore essays and memoir

Filter

Orion’s Belt

Cristhiano Aguiar

‘Well, if the Bible, Greek tragedies and Star Wars have taught me something it’s that anything of great importance will eventually come in threes.’

When Did I Become a Writer?

Mia Couto

‘I am often asked when I became a writer, and I have taken to not rushing my answer.’

Laparotomy

Alexandra Lucas Coelho

‘At forty, I think the world leads to the body. Besides, laid out on a stretcher, you are your only home’ .

First Sentence: Louise Erdrich

Louise Erdrich

‘We live in these places out of necessity, lucky to have them out of the terrible explosion of humanity.’

Thing with Feathers that Perches in the Soul

Anthony Doerr

‘It has to be love, doesn’t it? In however many of its infinite permutations?’

Toh EnJoe | First Sentence

Toh EnJoe

‘I think that the thing called thought can be viewed as rooted in the very real phenomenon of neurons firing.’

Printable

Toh EnJoe

‘Which is scarier: that the past could actually change or that you could just think it did?’

Maruti 800

Rana Dasgupta

‘Like a tiny old woman surrounded by strapping grandsons, the Maruti 800 was in fact the progenitor of all that new, muscular, vehicular variety.’

Heart and Soul in Every Stitch

Tash Aw

‘Where wealth and technology go, culture quickly follows, and soon it became acceptable, even desirable, to express an interest in Japan beyond the mere practicality offered by its products.’

My Avant-Garde Education

Bernard Cooper

‘My response to art was quick, metabolic and revelatory, while my response to sex was a muddle of delayed reactions and missed libidinal signals.’

Ann Beattie | First Sentence

Ann Beattie

‘Several times I’ve wanted to title something one thing, but have realized or been persuaded it isn’t a good idea.’

The Case of the Missing Miss Vincent

Kevin Brockmeier

‘There is a sound to finishing a story like the first note of the 3.30 bell. Inside him a great crowd goes pouring into the daylight.’

The Crack in the Door

Maria Chaudhuri

‘When my mother practises music, the world is her enemy.’

The Second Night is Ending

Mikail Eldin

‘This winter and this forest will leave you with a shiver in your heart, which will appear whenever you see a winter forest, even in pictures.’

Ninth and Race

Dan Burt

‘Prostitution, gambling, fencing, contract murder, loan-sharking, political corruption and crime of every sort were the daily trade in Philadelphia’s Tenderloin, the oldest part of town.’

This July

Wiam El-Tamami

‘It felt as though time would fall off a cliff on Sunday. We jokingly called it The End of the World.’

World War II Has Never Ended

Michael W. Clune

‘I discovered Hitler the summer I turned twelve. I found him in the centre of a map in a computer game called Beyond Castle Wolfenstein. I destroyed him with a bomb.’

You Remember the Planes

Paul Auster

‘You can’t remember the precise moment when you understood that you were a Jew.’

Héctor Abad | First Sentence

Héctor Abad

‘Ever since this happened to me, I haven’t really believed in free will.’

Cristhiano Aguiar | On Tour

Cristhiano Aguiar

‘Rabbits running across a campus and a beer named Hobgoblin: these are two of the topics noted in my small travel notebook.’

A Rationalist in the Jungle

Héctor Abad

‘A pale-faced, near-sighted urbanite like me is nothing less than handicapped in the heart of the jungle.’

Water Has No Enemy

Teju Cole

‘The city is a sea that can swallow you at any time, a monster that can lash out without warning, a hell of variables and uncertainties.’

Wudang Mountain

Catherine Chung

‘The danger with chasing fantasies is that the reality is often so different than the imagination.’

War Letters

António Lobo Antunes

‘I’m doing my best to survive all this, but sometimes I feel so homesick that words simply empty of meaning.’

Inner City

Lauren Beukes

‘It has taken this to make me realize that de-humanizing is not only something that other people do to you. It can be self-inflicted too.’

Naomi Alderman | My Writing Playlist

Naomi Alderman

Naomi Alderman shares five songs she loves to write to.

Tahmima Anam | My Writing Playlist

Tahmima Anam

Tahmima Anam shares a playlist of songs to write to.

Chinua Achebe’s Legacy

Ike Anya

‘Who will speak out for us now? Who will ask the hard questions of us and the world that he did?’

Pondlife: A Swimmer’s Journal

Al Alvarez

‘The water was chilly and sweet – cold enough to stay with me and make me shiver while I did some shopping later.’

Kopfkino

Chloe Aridjis

‘Yet the little white disks with a dent down the middle are no panacea; whenever I take one of these thought guillotines I feel trapped in a grey zone’.

God is Brazilian

André Barcinski

‘Guys like V seem to be everywhere in Brazil these days: riding in vehicles they can’t afford, buying the latest generation TV sets and smart phones, getting hooked on endless installment plans and the allure of easy credit.’

Introducing Javier Arancibia Contreras

Andrés Barba

‘In this story, the troubled translator’s only interlocutor is, of course, a rat with human vices and traits.’

Six Brazilian Songs

Teju Cole

Teju Cole shares six favourite Brazilian songs.

Anecdotes

Ann Beattie

‘Christine’s hair had begun to dry, and she looked different, with her hair down and her glasses on. Her earnestness made her look younger, and took me back to the bar where we’d sat in Pennsylvania years ago.’

The Island of Hawkers

Tan Twan Eng

‘Suspecting (rightly) that you have been eating diluted, unauthentic versions of the real thing, you realize you have to go to Penang, the best place to eat street food in Malaysia.’

Into the Cosmos

Chloe Aridjis

‘In those fervently atheist times, it wasn’t God or his angelic messengers who would come forth from the sky, but the cosmonaut.’