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4 3 2 1: Overture

Paul Auster

‘According to family legend, Ferguson’s grandfather departed on foot from his native city of Minsk with one hundred rubles sewn into the lining of his jacket’

9999

John Barth

The word odometer dates from 1791, but mileage indicators didn’t appear as standard equipment on...

A Day in the Life in El Salvador

Manlio Argueta

‘I have not failed you, José. I understand that you were saying goodbye when you opened your eye, and that, besides greeting me, you were expressing your pride in me, seeing me standing with my arm around the shoulders of your granddaughter.’

A Sentence of Love

Assia Djebar

‘I met Annie for the first time in 1995, in Algiers. A friend of my sister's, she came from Paris and stayed with me for one night.’

A Wedding

Anita Brookner

‘The bride and groom were there all the time, in the centre, as they should be. A good-looking couple. But lifeless, figures from stock.’

A Wooden Taste Is the Word for Dam a Wooden Taste Is the Word for Dam a Wooden Taste Is the Word For

Jesse Ball

‘My friends, what I mean is, this life is shallow like a plate. It goes no further.’

Abingdon Square

André Aciman

‘Your problem is not that you misread signs; it’s that you see them everywhere.’

After Caravaggio’s Sacrifice of Isaac

Rachel Cusk

‘It was right after he was born that I started looking at paintings.’

After Effects

Oliverio Coelho

‘Iván tried not to keep still.’

Agamemnon’s Truth

Javier Cercas

‘My name is Javier Cercas, just like you.’

All That Follows

Jim Crace

‘Leonard Lessing does not dream of Maxie Lemon, Maxim Lermontov, the hostage­-taker.’

Alpes Maritimes

William Boyd

‘From the small terrace at Cherry's villa there is a perfect view of Villefranche and its bay, edged by the bright beads of the harbour lights and headlamps of cars on the coast road.’

And Yet

Brian Evenson

‘She had waited expectantly for him to tell her a story to illustrate this, and to explain what those values were, but as with so many other things he had left it at that. It lingered in the air, waiting for her to pluck it up, but she had simply let it hang.’

Anecdotes

Ann Beattie

‘Christine’s hair had begun to dry, and she looked different, with her hair down and her glasses on. Her earnestness made her look younger, and took me back to the bar where we’d sat in Pennsylvania years ago.’

Anwar Gets Everything

Tahmima Anam

‘Two ways a man can go here, in the direction of God or the direction of believing there is nothing up there but a sun that will kill you whether you pray five times or not.’

Arcadia

Emma Cline

‘Could a place work on you like an illness?’

At Yankee Stadium

Don DeLillo

‘From a series of linked couples they become one continuous wave, larger all the time, covering the open spaces in navy and white.’

Author, Author

Martin Amis

‘Cities at night, I feel, contain men who cry in their sleep and then say Nothing.’

Banyan

Robert Olen Butler

‘I wake and it’s dark and a woman is beside me, naked and small, and she is waking too and the room is still heavy with the incense she burned for her dead.’

Base Life

George Makana Clark

‘This is why he will survive this war to return to his wife and daughter, barring a blind bullet, an errant piece of shrapnel, some careless act of destiny.’

Batorsag and Szerelem

Ethan Canin

‘In January of 1973, the year everything changed in our family, my older brother Clive competed for the mathematics championship of William Howard Taft High School in Shaker Heights, Ohio.’

Beach

Roberto Bolaño

‘I said to myself that maybe he wasn’t about to die.’

Before the Fall

J.P. Cuenca

‘Is it possible to run away without being a coward?’

Birdie

Ann DeWitt

‘By the end of the summer, the city was fed up with our antics.’

Birthday Boy

Tony Earley

‘During the night something like a miracle happened: Jim's age grew an extra digit.’

Blasphemy

Fatima Bhutto

The tourists are gone. They’ve fled to Islamabad, along with the landlords and the hoteliers and the battalions of police that used to defend them, and certainty has left with them.

Blow Your House Down

Pat Barker

‘Brenda stood up, brushing bits of gravel from her knees, and thinking, Christ, there've gotta be easier ways of earning a living than this.’

Boris

John Berger

‘Sometimes to refute a single sentence it is necessary to tell a life story.’

Born Again

Anne Billson

‘I had no time for vices.‘

Burning Mary

Tom Drury

‘Paul Emmons was a college student with no money behind him and none in front and so he seemed immune from trouble.’

But Richard Widmark

Nik Cohn

‘I ask my wife what she means by kidnap exactly, but she says never mind’.

Call If You Need Me

Raymond Carver

‘I think I even used the phrase second honeymoon to the realtor, God forgive me, while Susan smoked a cigarette and read tourist brochures out in the car’.

City Boy

Judy Chicurel

‘I would have dreams that woke me in the middle of the night, my heart shaking inside my body.’

Click

Brian Evenson

‘It wasn’t that he didn’t have a name, only that he was having difficulty locating it.’

Colin Maillard

Guy Davenport

‘All people with socks and sneakers were rich, didn’t they know?’

Coming down from the Mountains

Reinaldo Arenas

‘There is nothing to be heard now; just, in the darkness, the racket of the victrolas in Loma Colorada barrio, and the organ lording it over all the other noises.’