Explore essays and memoir
A Norwegian Nightmare
‘Could we somehow have avoided feeding the killer at our own breast?’
A question of identity
‘One of the first things a child learns is the sentiment: My country is… And so begins the homeland briefing that lasts from the cradle to the grave.’
A Thousand Splendid Stuns
‘More important than anything else that fateful year was the life-defining transcendence of Peter Gabriel.’
Alexis Wright | Is Travel Writing Dead?
‘In my imagination I have been to many villages and cities in the world.’
Ali the Muscle
‘All individuality is collapsed by the dog-eat-dog language of ‘us and them’ into a choice between one of two separate, irreconcilable identities.’
An Afghanistan Picture Show
‘The windbreakers of the passengers standing at the rail fluttered violently.’
Arithmetic on the Frontier
‘These days the tempest of Taliban violence ripping across the frontier has shaken Peshawar to its core.’
Best Book of 1926: Red Cavalry by Isaac Babel
His is a force more penetrative than all the bogus machismo of Hemingway.
Best Book of 1970: The Collected Works of Billy the Kid
Why Michael Ondaatje's The Collected Works of Billy the Kid is the best book of 1970.
Best Book of 1984: Amalgamemnon
Joanna Walsh on why Christine Brooke-Rose's Amalgamemnon is the best book of 1984.
Best Book of 2010: Mr Chartwell, by Rebecca Hunt
‘Hunt writes with brio, the visceral often blooming into the mystical.’
‘The All-American Canal was now dark black with phosphorescent streaks where the border’s eyes stained it with yellow tears.’
‘I first stepped into Bush House on a dreary November day in 2001. It was a trepid walk.’
An excerpt from Matt Young's memoir Eat The Apple, which explores his three deployments to Iraq as a member of the US Marine Corps.
‘I’m nervous at night when I take off my leg. I wait until the last moment before sleep to un-tech because I am a woman who lives alone’
Cricket in Samoa
‘Balls flew towards the beach or into dense jungle. Enthusiastic young fielders tumbled head over heels in the morning glories. Village elders, large, heavy-breasted, critical men, lay in the shade on cushions discussing the course of play like contented sea lions on their favourite rocks.’
‘How do you persuade a thousand dogs to walk into a fire? How do you persuade them, as it were, to commit suttee?’.
‘Climate change, I realise, is already here. Not the drama of it, not yet, but in the mundane.’
‘I thought after what had happened to us in the past twenty-four hours I’d never be scared to die again, but I am.’
First Sentence: Javier Zamora
‘Immigration has become a physical thing, like a tumor inside us, between us.’
Five are the fingers, and five are the sins
Rebecca Watson on the life of the man who prototyped fascism, the Italian writer Gabriele D’Annunzio
‘We do not understand why, nor did we covet such long life, but here we are, our respective addictions and madness with us to the end.’
‘We’d left Sarasota in the dead of summer, right after my tenth birthday, and headed west under low flickering skies that turned black and exploded and cleared just long enough to leave the air gauzy with steam.’
‘Marilyn Monroe spent a couple of nights at the Cal-Neva. Sinatra knew she was in a bad way.’
Getting The Words Out
‘No, it is not confrontation but some wish to avoid it, some hasty wish to please, that betrays my flow of speech.’
Here Come the Tanks
‘In these civilian circumstances, unhampered by any opposition from aircraft, landmines, artillery or other tanks, the tank seems unstoppable.’
‘I always think, either as a reader or as a writer, one person – anyone – can struggle against this filthy world by entering into a world of literature.’
‘Peckham is the place of my adolescence, my first cobbled together attempts at dressing myself from the charity shops on Rye Lane.’