Granta | The Magazine of New Writing

Explore essays and memoir

Filter

A Bizarre Courtship

Ben Okri

‘One morning, more golden than yellow, I went outside to our housefront and saw that the beggars had gone.‘

A Blow to the Head

A.L. Kennedy

‘I am looking for my dead grandfather in the British Library.’

A Bosnian Alphabet

Lawrence Norfolk

‘APOLOGY: A should be for Alphabet: the device I am resorting to in some desperation to structure my thoughts on this subject: my relations vis-à-vis two Yugoslavian wars.‘

A Childhood in Broadmoor Hospital

Patrick McGrath

‘These were the friends of my early boyhood, men who twenty years earlier would still have been called ‘criminal lunatics’.‘

A Childhood in Terezin

Ivan Klíma

‘I am trying to reach, in memory, a time before the war began.’

A Cock Fight

Charles Nicholl

‘And now, the night before the fight, with the moon high and nearing the full, came the final preparation: we were taking him to Auguste.’

A Dose of Winter Medicine

Kseniya Melnik

‘I looked at the carpet in her small living room. This is where she had fallen and lay for twenty-four hours before her younger sister, Auntie Tanya, had found her.’

A Fish Out of Water

Mario Vargas Llosa

‘A democracy, I said, is driven by the electoral process, and in elections there are victories and defeats.’

A Kidnapped West or Culture Bows Out

Milan Kundera

‘But since Europe itself is in the process of losing its own cultural identity, it perceives in Central Europe nothing but a political regime; put another way, it sees in Central Europe only Eastern Europe.’

A Land Without Strangers

Ben Mauk

Ben Mauk on nationalism and xenophobia in Poland.

A Letter

Sławomir Mrożek

‘I draw your attention to football. The practice of this game threatens the basis of our very way of life.’

A Mischief of Rats

Joanna Kavenna

‘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 Not-So-Pretty History of Pet Care

Daniel Magariel

‘One day after the next I would figure out what was needed, learn from my mistakes, pay attention to what worked.’

A Tour of Angola

Ryszard Kapuściński

‘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.’

A Train in Winter

Caroline Moorehead

‘It was clear that not all would, or could, or would choose to, survive.’

A Trip to Syria

David McConnell

‘Several years ago, a friend and I stayed at the one hotel set amid the ruins of Queen Zenobia’s oasis capital, Palmyra, in the Syrian desert.’

A very young Dancer

Todd McEwen

‘I have a snapshot of the two of us: late on a summer afternoon we're playing in an inflatable wading pool.‘

A Walk to Kobe

Haruki Murakami

‘What I’m talking about is a different sea, and different mountains.’ Haruki Murakami walks to his hometown after the Great Hanshin earthquake of 1995.

A Warsaw Diary

Ryszard Kapuściński

‘In Poland we read every text as allusive; every situation described - even the most remote in time and space - is immediately applied to Poland.’

A.L. Kennedy | First Sentence

A.L. Kennedy

‘I have never seen anyone eat figs in the street and feel I am unsurprised.’

A.L. Kennedy | God and Me

A.L. Kennedy

‘Faith: the greater it is, the more unsupported it must be’

Abuse, Silence, and the Light That Virginia Woolf Switched On

April Ayers Lawson

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.

After

April Ayers Lawson

‘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.

Airports: Frontier Nations

Andrés Neuman

‘1.In the waiting area of the Málaga airport for departing flights, a flock of birds nests on the beams. They fly back and forth across the high ceiling.’

Airships

Javier Marías

‘We live in an age that tends to depersonalize even people and is, in principle, averse to anthropomorphism.’

All Hail the Holy Bone

Maggie O’Farrell

‘It is part angel, part lepidopteran, part Rorschach inkblot.’

All that Offers a Happy Ending Is a Fairy Tale

Yiyun Li

‘If you were like me, you would know the obsession of the compulsive reader: every street sign; every bottle label’

Amazon Adventure

Redmond O’Hanlon

‘Having spent two months travelling in the primary rain forests of Borneo, I thought that a four-month journey in the country between the Orinoco River in Venezuela and the Amazon in Brazil would pose no particular problem.’

American Folk

Greil Marcus

‘Smith placed murder ballads, explosions of religious ecstasy, moral warnings and hedonistic revels on the same plane of value and meaning’

Among Chickens

Jonathan Miller

‘The joke makes us aware that we have complex notions about those things for which we can be praised and blamed, those things which could be said to be voluntary or involuntary, those things which we can do half-heartedly, those things which we do flat out and those things we can't help.’

Among the Citizen Soldiers

Karan Mahajan

Karan Mahajan visits Lexington, Virginia – a centre of the Confederary – in the wake of the far-right rally in Charlottesville.

Among the Pipemen

Andrew Martin

‘It was as though, after a period of wariness, my pipe had warmed to me.’

An Accidental Spy

Phillip Knightley

‘The CIA had become concerned about Soviet influence in India in the early 1960s.’

An Escape from Kampala

Wycliffe Kato

‘‘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.’

Ange Mlinko | First Sentence

Ange Mlinko

‘I rediscovered the efficacy of meter (or the ‘contrast between fixity and flux’) when I was stuck in a shark tunnel with my kids and was afraid I was coming down with a panic attack.’