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The Seventh Man

Haruki Murakami

‘I looked up at the sky. A few grey cotton chunks of cloud hung there, motionless.’

The Husband Stitch

Carmen Maria Machado

‘I have heard all of the stories about girls like me, and I am unafraid to make more of them.’

About Her and the Memories That Belong to Her

Mieko Kawakami

‘If I were to forget, then it would be the same as it never having existed at all.’

Runs Girl | New Voices

Chinelo Okparanta

‘The year Mama fell sick was the year Njideka confessed to me that she was a runs girl.’

Thailand

Haruki Murakami

‘Living and dying are, in a sense, things of equal value.’

Nothing Ever Happens Here

Ottessa Moshfegh

‘I was broke, and I was a nobody, but I was happy.’

The Dune

Stephen King

‘Being able to read obituaries in advance gives a man an extraordinary sense of power.’

Remission

Adam Mars-Jones

‘There's an awkward interval, when you're ill but not yet conditioned by illness.’

Accident

Etgar Keret

’Thirty years I’m a cabbie,’ the small guy sitting behind the wheel tells me, ’thirty years and not one accident.’

Diem Perdidi

Julie Otsuka

‘When you ask her your name, she does not remember what it is.’

Dark Air

Lincoln Michel

‘There must have been a dozen ways for us to be crushed or torn apart.’

River So Close

Melinda Moustakis

‘She’s a good-for-nothing chummer. If she survives a week on the slime line without cutting off her thumb or slicing her wrist, she’s hired.’

In a Blue Time

Hanif Kureishi

‘When the phone rings, who do you most want it to be?’

The Bridge

David Mamet

‘Surely the world was going to end. And probably in fire - in nuclear destruction, by mistake, or at the hands of madmen.’

Crow Fair

Thomas McGuane

‘You’re in a different world when your own mother doesn’t recognize you, or thinks you’re the stranger who gave her a hickey.’

Agnes of Iowa

Lorrie Moore

‘Her mother had given her the name Agnes, believing that a good-looking woman was even more striking when her name was a homely one.’

The Whale House

Sharon Millar

‘By morning the dreams are gone, flying through the tiny holes in the net in sudden starling movements.’

Mouth

Mario Vargas Llosa

‘I lost my left ear from a bite. . .Through the thin slit that remains I can hear the sounds of the world.’

Thank You for Having Me

Lorrie Moore

‘Every day there was something new to mourn and something old to celebrate.’

Come, Japanese!

Julie Otsuka

‘On the boat we each had to make choices.’

Stones and Artichokes

Nicole Krauss

‘As we get older, the world grows to fit our fear of death.’

OIF

Phil Klay

‘A few months later I was strapped up, M4 in condition 1, surrounded by 03s, backpack full of cash, twitchiest guy in Iraq.’

America

Chinelo Okparanta

‘It is a reluctant kind of disregard that stems from a feeling of shame.’

Bad Seeds

Masatsugu Ono

‘Evil, she told herself. That was the name of the flower.’

Item Girls

Kuzhali Manickavel

‘I have heard the item girls singing each to each. / I do not think they will sing to me.’

Five Houses

Melanie McFadyean

‘I live here, we say, this is my house, my home. We settle, dwell, adorn. A house feels permanent. But this illusion of security can end in a minute.’

Final Fantasy III

Tao Lin

‘On the F train to Manhattan I emailed a friend in the UK. I said I couldn’t write my essay about Japan.’

The Chronicle of the Wrinkled-Face Sheikh

Salman Natour

‘No other inanimate object retains emotion as strongly as keys do. Fingerprints are engraved on them as if the laws of wear and tear do not apply.’

A Clean Marriage

Sayaka Murata

‘Frequency of sex since marriage: zero.’ Sayaka Murata on a sexless marriage and the ‘Clean Breeder’ technique for pleasureless reproduction.

Small Differences

Catherine Lacey

‘Everyone should just sit very still until they reach the calmer waters of later-young-adulthood, that promised land of lowered expectations.’

Blazing Sun

Tatiana Salem Levy

‘It’s never easy to trade one love for another.’

The Captain

Rattawut Lapcharoensap

‘I was with Dora. We were in love. Things were cheap and plentiful and the money from the insurance was going to last us forever.’

The Wrong Square

Neel Mukherjee

‘Something as fundamental to intelligence as counting was eluding him.’

Crossing Cut Creek | New Voices

Erin McMillan

‘Light rose over Mama’s tanned arms, Keller’s dirty hair. The air was thick with colour and swirling dust, and we were still, suspended in it.’

House Fire

Yiyun Li

‘The six friends declared war against love outside marriage.’

To Detroit

Benjamin Markovits

‘Things started going wrong at my ten-year college reunion – or I guess I mean that I realized how wrong they had gone.’