Explore essays and memoir
Jenni Fagan | My Writing Playlist
Best of Young British Novelist Jenni Fagan selects five songs that she loves to write to.
‘They knelt at my feet. They crawled naked across gleaming wooden floors.’
Teaching After Trump
‘In a country whose government we do not trust, who do we need more than writers and teachers? And what is more powerful than an inspired youth?’
Best Book of 1993: Written on the Body
‘Influences imprint themselves on our consciousness as light does a photograph, or trauma the psyche’
Kwangju and After
‘Some people said they were not ‘with’ the students. They were not in favour of the use of arms. But they were of one voice in saying that the students were their sons, and that if the army came in the students would be put to death. That was why they kept saying: “Tell the truth about us.”’
The Snap Revolution (Part One: The Snap Election)
‘It was the Cuba of the future. It was going the way of Iran. It was another Nicaragua, another Cambodia, another Vietnam.’
The Snap Revolution (Part Two: The Narrow Road to the Solid North)
‘Most of his life has been spent under Marcos's rule, and his habit of thought was to doubt the story as presented in, say, the newspaper, and to try to guess the story behind the story.’
The Snap Revolution (Part Three: The Snap Revolution)
‘Late that night Marcos came on the television again, and whereas in the previous press conference he had maintained a gelid calm, now he was angry and almost out of control.’
The Fall of Saigon
‘I wanted to see Vietnam for myself. I wanted to see a war, and I wanted to see a communist victory, which I presumed to be inevitable. I wanted to see the fall of a city.’
Cambodia and Someth May
‘When I first saw the draft of the piece which follows, I realized that the book he was writing had reached an essential stage of articulacy.’
Road to Cambodia
‘The buildings were full of surprises. In one, surrounded by winking lights, the last abbot was lying in his coffin. He had died a year before, and it would be another two years before he was cremated.’
Let There Be Light!
A secular psychiatrist encounters the deeply religious in Brooklyn with unorthodox results.
When We Fight, We Have Our Children With Us
‘We are all politically involved whether we like it or not, and children are already on the frontlines.’
The Snow Geese
‘Are these great journeys examples of learned or inherited behaviour?’
‘We talked a lot about voice – the idea that everyone has a voice, their own voice, and this is something to be valued and celebrated.’
Burying the Bones
’There are times when every nation needs to think a little less about its history.‘
The Silent Majority of Cape Town
‘Next to Mandela sat Allan Boesak, the ANC candidate for premier of the Western Cape province. Great is thy faithfulness, indeed, I thought.’
‘His room is as he left it, furnished with a carpet, a spinning wheel, a low white table, a mattress and cushion.’
‘The nun beside me on the helicopter this morning had a tight, self-righteous face.’
‘Back in 1976 when I was sixteen, my uncle, the novelist Edmund White, rescued me from the messy aftermath of my parents' divorce and brought me to live with him in New York’.
To Thine Own Self Be True
‘If Shakespeare’s characters stand for anything, it’s for a slipperiness of identity.’ David Flusfeder on a dog named Shakespeare.
Vinyl Road Trip
After an unexpected email, David Flusfeder heads to Detroit to discover his father’s history and the world of vinyl manufacturing.
The Last Shopkeepers of London
‘It became a kind of mission to find contemporaries of theirs that weren’t closing down, establishments that have continued to flourish, or at least endure.’
‘Wildlife foundations find themselves calling for the deaths of tens of thousands of wild animals.’
‘Every sect needs jargon. We did not have churches, we had halls; services were called meetings; the congregation was the assembly; elders were overseers’
‘Language is a risk that a nation takes. If a language survives, its people do too.’ Translated from the French by David Homel.
Plus tard, ils me diront comme tu étais un grand homme. Un savant. Un érudit de la chasse.
El Salvador: An Aide-Mémoire
‘Between 1978 and 1981 I travelled between the United States and Salvador, writing reports on the war waiting to happen, drawing blueprints from memory, naming the dead.’