‘He began to feel less like he was delivering a speech and more like a speech was delivering him.’
‘To pick the right heart, the old man said, you had to look for depth in the ruby, to prize a raw intensity of colour and a bright gold fat blanketing the angry muscle.’
Plays Bossa Nova
‘That was the setup for the review I wrote about this imaginary record.’ Translated from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel.
An excerpt from ZED, the forthcoming novel by Joanna Kavenna, a Granta Best of Young British Novelist.
My Mother Pattu
Saraswathy M. Manickam’s ‘My Mother Pattu’ is the Asian regional winner of the 2019 Commonwealth Short Story Prize.
A Season on Earth
‘He had forgotten in the seminary how many distractions there were in the world.’
The Sole Purveyor of Madame Bovary in Beijing circa 1989
‘In the day, his bevy of besotted rustics were coached in maxims of libertarian socialism. By night: rice wine orgies and folk punk sing-alongs.’
Rules for Visiting
‘It wasn’t until the end of dinner, when my aunt started clearing and my grandmother demanded another bottle of wine, that I began to understand.’
American Girl and Boy from Shobrakheit
‘Question: is romance just a father who never carried you to bed carrying you, at last, to bed?’
‘Characteristically my wife refused to be drawn into the situation while I became obsessed with it.’
Agnes of Iowa
‘Through college she had been a feminist – more or less. She shaved her legs, but just not often enough, she liked to say.’
Always the Same Snow and Always the Same Uncle
‘Who knows: what I write I must eat, what I don’t write – eats me.’
A Mother’s Dilemma
‘I can hear the girl scratching a pencil inside a notebook. I don’t like it. I’ve asked her not to write about me.’
An extract from Vintage 1954 by Antoine Laurain, translated from the French by Emily Boyce and Jane Aitken.
At the Edge of Night
An excerpt from Friedo Lampe’s At the Edge of Night, translated from the German by Simon Beattie.
Picking Up Nathan from the Airport
‘When shit like this happens, people don’t walk out on fifteen-year marriages.’
Objects in Mirror
‘He runs through the events of the day in his mind. Fairly frightening, really: the sudden request for his file, the question about the government. And the silence.’
If You Start Breathing
‘Sharing her pain with other people meant that her pain belonged to her less, Joanne belonged to her less.’
Portion of Jam
‘My father no longer goes to the hospital to work, because you don’t find nurses in wheelchairs working in hospitals.’
No Machine Could Do It
‘In the future we have to be as interesting to the AI as our pets are to us.’
The Woman Dies
‘The woman dies. She dies to provide a plot twist. She dies to develop the narrative. She dies for cathartic effect. She dies because no one could think of what else to do with her.’ Aoko Matsuda, translated from the Japanese by Polly Barton.
Can infidelity make up for infidelity? New fiction from John Patrick McHugh.
‘He comes all the way here after he died and the two of you are making small talk?’ New fiction by Hiromi Kawakami, translated from the Japanese by Allison Markin Powell
The Restaurant of Many Orders
‘Two young gentlemen dressed just like British military men, with gleaming guns on their shoulders and two dogs like great white bears at their heels, were walking in the mountains where the leaves rustled dry underfoot.’
How Much Heart
A triptych of flash fiction by Mieko Kawakami, translated from the Japanese by David Boyd.
‘I was overcome by a feeling that took root then and has never left me, the feeling that in this land that was someone else’s country, I did not have a place to stand.’
‘What’s wrong is that she cannot breathe.’ Samsun Knight’s ‘The Dive’ is the winner of the 2018 Disquiet Literary Prize
Nuala O’Connor’s short story about Nora Barnacle, and her first meetings with James Joyce.
Fathers and Sons
‘For a while it wasn’t clear how good he would become, and then it was. He went up the rankings, stopped, and started going down.’