A Clean Marriage
‘Frequency of sex since marriage: zero.’ Sayaka Murata on a sexless marriage and the ‘Clean Breeder’ technique for pleasureless reproduction.
A Double-Income Family
When Mrs Mehra leaves Delhi she retires in one of ‘the vast new satellite townships on the eastern fringes of the metropolis’.
A Fan Letter
‘Before I begin I'd like to say that I'll try to remember everything as best I can, though sometimes I know it won't be right.’
A Hebrew Sibyl
‘And so began what I was to become. To all these things – the admonitions and the testimonies, the rites and the annunciations – I had easily acquiesced.’
COKE SMELLS COLD AND CHEMICAL LIKE THE INSIDE OF A REFRIGERATOR. It’s what back then smells like, now when she thinks of it.
A Mason’s Hand | New Voices
‘Haji sahib, these kids are beyond me. I can’t teach them any more. Please make some other arrangement.’
A Queer Streak Part One: Anonymous Letters
‘She would never know why she had done it. She was sleepless and strung-up and her better judgement had deserted her.’
A Queer Streak Part Two: Possession
‘He thinks he remembers Violet coming for supper, as she sometimes did, bringing with her a pudding which she set outside in the snow, to keep it cool.’
About Her and the Memories That Belong to Her
‘If I were to forget, then it would be the same as it never having existed at all.’
’Thirty years I’m a cabbie,’ the small guy sitting behind the wheel tells me, ’thirty years and not one accident.’
‘What can damage us more? The blunt honesty of hatred, or the thwarted objective of reconciliation?’
Agnes of Iowa
‘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.’
All the Caged Things
‘All that thought of home gave the girl a sickly feeling, the longing of something so out of reach, something she wasn’t even sure she could any longer truly remember.’
Always the Same Snow and Always the Same Uncle
‘Who knows: what I write I must eat, what I don’t write – eats me.’
‘I heard the news from a nurse with a piece of tinsel tied around her waist: my father had become a hypochondriac.’
An Amateur Spy In Arabia
‘In the 1930s I wanted to travel and I wanted to write. In 1935, I published my first book—about a journey to Spain’.
‘I only stopped playing with him when he began biting the fingers of anyone who tried to pet him.’
At The Kitchen Table
‘Your husband dies, you’re a widow. There’s almost joy in it. Why not scream it? Glory.’
‘I began to think, for no particular reason, about what the exact series of events would be were I to die at that moment – before, even, my coffee went cold.’
‘Partial, our protagonist, to the palatal; prone, too, to the plosive; and apt, you’ve heard, to alliterate.’
Bears in Mourning
‘When I think about it, it was terrible the way we behaved when Victor died. We behaved as if we were ashamed of him, or angry.’
‘This was the morning I discovered the anatomy of a hair.’ New fiction by Guadalupe Nettel, translated from the Spanish by Rahul Bery.
‘Late June, scorched grass and sprinklers, the sky as if scuffed and beaten. Too hot to work, too lazy to think.’
‘Roger The French-Ivorian understood that I didn’t appreciate his tone of voice and ordered two Pelforts to win me back.’
‘Despair sat on her shoulders where her wings should have been. Darkness consumed her, the quivering lip of a dying abalone, grease in the barrel of a gun.’ 2016 Commonwealth Short Story Prize – regional winner for the Pacific.
‘As a kid, he played video games and roughhoused on the beach and joined a gang.’
‘People think they’re destroying, but it’s hard work, nearly impossible; building is easy, illusory but easy.’