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A Mother’s Dilemma

Victor Lodato

‘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.’

A Season on Earth

Gerald Murnane

‘He had forgotten in the seminary how many distractions there were in the world.’

Agnes of Iowa

Lorrie Moore

‘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

Herta Müller

‘Who knows: what I write I must eat, what I don’t write – eats me.’

American Girl and Boy from Shobrakheit

Noor Naga

‘Question: is romance just a father who never carried you to bed carrying you, at last, to bed?’

At the Edge of Night

Friedo Lampe

An excerpt from Friedo Lampe’s At the Edge of Night, translated from the German by Simon Beattie.

Beetle

Joanna Kavenna

An excerpt from ZED, the forthcoming novel by Joanna Kavenna, a Granta Best of Young British Novelist.

Evensong

Todd McEwen

‘Characteristically my wife refused to be drawn into the situation while I became obsessed with it.’

If You Start Breathing

Thea Lim

‘Sharing her pain with other people meant that her pain belonged to her less, Joanne belonged to her less.’

My Mother Pattu

Saraswathy M. Manickam

Saraswathy M. Manickam’s ‘My Mother Pattu’ is the Asian regional winner of the 2019 Commonwealth Short Story Prize.

Nadine at Forty

Hilary Mantel

‘Each day we re-enact, on ourselves, what was done to us.’

Objects in Mirror

Maxim Osipov

‘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.’

Picking Up Nathan from the Airport

Benjamin Markovits

‘When shit like this happens, people don’t walk out on fifteen-year marriages.’

Portion of Jam

Mazen Maarouf

‘My father no longer goes to the hospital to work, because you don’t find nurses in wheelchairs working in hospitals.’

Rules for Visiting

Jessica Francis Kane

‘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.’

The Sole Purveyor of Madame Bovary in Beijing circa 1989

Amanda Lee Koe

‘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.’

Vintage 1954

Antoine Laurain

An extract from Vintage 1954 by Antoine Laurain, translated from the French by Emily Boyce and Jane Aitken.