Explore essays and memoir
‘In Hollin Hills, we believed our flatware could change the world.’ Jennifer Kabat on the intersection of modernist architecture and espionage.
Best Book of 1900: The Autobiography of Dr William Henry Johnson
‘Johnson is now a ghost of history; he doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page, but I can’t let him disappear.’
On the Refugee Crisis
‘Europe, my love. You have such a long history; and oftentimes such a short memory.’
I come from a place on your bucket list
Deepti Kapoor on travel, authenticity and the peculiarity of being Indian in Uganda.
Letter From Pondicherry, India
‘When I was growing up in Pondicherry, a former French colony on the south-east coast of India, I would go with my family each Sunday to the beach.‘
The Snow in Ghana
‘We always carry it to foreign countries, all over the world, our pride and our powerlessness.’
Christmas Eve in Uganda
‘In fact, from the moment I spotted Amin, I made a point of neither accelerating nor slowing down – no turning or stopping.’
Outline For A Book
‘I have come home from Africa, jumping from a tropical roasting-pit and dropping into a snow-bank.’
‘On the flatbed lies a coffin. Atop the black box is a garland of haggard angels.’
A Tour of Angola
‘You have to learn how to live with the check-points and to respect their customs, if you want to travel without hindrance and reach your destination alive.’
Warsaw Diary (Part Two: 1983)
‘History as class struggle? As a struggle of systems? Agreed: but history is equally the struggle between culture and the mob, between humanity and bestiality.’
A Warsaw Diary
‘In Poland we read every text as allusive; every situation described - even the most remote in time and space - is immediately applied to Poland.’
The Ghost in the Kimono
Deep in the dense volume of Delhi’s history Raghu Kardad investigates ‘the remarkable, untold story of the Japanese in the Old Fort’.
Grandma Moore’s Cancer
‘Those are only rumours of suffering. Real suffering has a face and a smell. And it knows your name.’
Laura Kasischke | First Sentence
‘There really was a moth I found in a toolbox (not as musical or interesting as ‘strongbox’), alive, in the attic, in that box.’
Lunch with the Surgeon
‘Last month, a plastic surgeon in Buenos Aires tried to seduce me.’
An Escape from Kampala
‘‘Be brave,’ she said, ‘pull yourself together. What you are about to see is worse than you ever imagined.’ She asked if I knew what Winston Churchill had called Uganda. He had called it the pearl of Africa.’
Rooms That Have Had Their Part
‘Rooms jaundiced by bad lighting, so you wondered, what is ague, and could we have it? Rooms that hummed, a hum you couldn’t quite identify, or that seemed in the end to come from your own head.’
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.
‘Rather than death itself, it is the disappearance of traces that seems unbearable and sad. The disappearance of all signs that I existed.’
The Lord in his Wisdom
‘I realize with a fresh horror that Jonathan is seeing me as the sin’
Remembering Iain M Banks
Stuart Kelly remembers Iain Banks, and assesses the influence he's had on this generation of writers.
The Bible As Literature, Literature As Scripture
'Literature and literary criticism took me away from the Church as a teenager, and literature and literary criticism brought me back to it later.'
The Handbag Studio
‘In Los Angeles in late October of 1980, I was feeling the strange, malign electricity the Santa Ana winds bring to the city.’
Captain Scott’s Biscuit
‘Those who took anything out of any of the huts could excuse themselves in the belief that they were merely saving a relic from gradual climatic destruction’.
Summer with my Grandmother
‘And this was my grandmother, this man-destroying tyrant, this magnificent perfectionist with untireable arms and unfathomable ways of seeing.’
‘I was tempted to let the pages blow overboard and start again...But they have very stern laws about littering at sea.’