Explore essays and memoir
A Rationalist in the Jungle
‘A pale-faced, near-sighted urbanite like me is nothing less than handicapped in the heart of the jungle.’
Typical Global and Typical Local Food
‘However, there are countries with an almost secret culinary culture, unknown to the immense majority of the world.’
Héctor Abad | First Sentence
‘Ever since this happened to me, I haven’t really believed in free will.’
Road to Chitral
‘I wonder sometimes when this cycle of violence began. When was year zero?’
But Why Write? The Writer-To-Be
‘How to explain this resolve to write, this firm unwavering intent to become a writer on the part of someone who may not even really care for books?’
The Comrades and I
Mona Abouissa on her experiences with Egyptian communists, and the role they played in Egypt before 1952, when they were excised from official history.
Fork in the Road
‘I left Sudan in 1987 – I was 23 years old and the idea of writing was the furthest thing from my mind.’
Benjamin Pell Versus the Rest of the World
‘You hear Benjamin Pell long before you see him.’
Writing Like Degas Paints
Sulaiman Addonia on how Edgar Degas’s nude portraits inspired his latest novel, Silence Is My Mother Tongue.
In Search of Beauty: Blackness as a Poem in Saudi Arabia
Sulaiman Addonia on the slow process of rediscovering the beauty of black skin after moving to Saudi Arabia as a child.
‘I like to think now that he knew how much I liked him, from the beginning, and that we were both equal participants in the ritual.’
‘Until now, I had never experienced a disaster, or witnessed mass suffering and death close up.’
A Gentle Madness
‘Pakistan is a nation of memory keepers. We feed our memories as if they are guests at tea, pay homage to them.’
Cristhiano Aguiar | On Tour
‘Rabbits running across a campus and a beer named Hobgoblin: these are two of the topics noted in my small travel notebook.’
‘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.’
Lovely Girls, Very Cheap
‘A bar girl in Ko Samui is employed to attract customers. Almost every bar has at least one girl, and some of the larger bars have up to twenty’.
The Foreign Correspondent
‘The absence of Indian foreign correspondents was, and is, unexceptional.’
‘A middle-aged woman in teddy bear-spangled pajamas came hurtling down on a flatbed tricycle.’ Pallavi Aiyar returns to her old Beijing hutong.
‘Other countries do wrong: look what Russia did in Afghanistan, or Turkey invading Cyprus, or Israel taking over Palestine and Lebanon. Nobody bombed them senseless. They were not even punished. Perhaps we have too much history.’
Rabih Alameddine | Portrait of My Father
‘I come from a family that hangs pictures of family on its walls.’
The Ground Floor
‘I met Darin Rossi standing in a thick, gooey pool of fake blood, on an early-December night in Los Angeles.’
Lost in Translation
‘It’s about the music of it. “It’s Hollywood,” Mario said, and assured me the same is true of political speech-making.’
‘With few exceptions, presidents do not comment on or even recognize an individual loss like this one; they operate on another scale, and there is no room within their discourse for something so small.’
The Best Books of Any Year: Three Variations on Post-Truth
‘2016 is almost over but the impact of this year’s political events will reverberate around the globe for decades.’
Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones
Edoardo Albert on five archaeological findings that brought the past to life.
According to Your Will
‘Thank you, God,’ said the boys, ‘for not making me a woman.’ ‘Thank you, God,’ said the girls, ‘for making me according to Your will.’
The Meaning of Zombies
‘They’re the interchangeable anonymous people we encounter on our daily commute, those whose humanity we cannot acknowledge.’
The Goddamn Particle
‘When we find results that seem to make no sense, we should not be surprised or alarmed.’
Naomi Alderman | My Writing Playlist
Naomi Alderman shares five songs she loves to write to.
‘Photographs showed a wood-panelled room, furnished with a long table spread with a leopard skin.’
Russia on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
‘The Russian people suffer from a victim complex: they believe that nothing depends on them, and by them nothing can be changed.’
Boys in Zinc
‘I was trying to present a history of feelings, not the history of the war itself.’