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A Fan Letter

Stewart O’Nan

‘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 Good Man is Hard to Find

Duncan McLean

‘I thought I heard the woman next door crying’

A Mason’s Hand | New Voices

Ali Akbar Natiq

‘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

Alice Munro

‘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

Alice Munro

‘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.’

Accident

Etgar Keret

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

Adults

Claire Messud

‘Those summer evenings were all alike.’

After Helena

Andrés Neuman

‘What can damage us more? The blunt honesty of hatred, or the thwarted objective of reconciliation?’

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.’

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.’

Amateur Dramatics

Jonathan Lee

‘I heard the news from a nurse with a piece of tinsel tied around her waist: my father had become a hypochondriac.’

America

Chinelo Okparanta

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

An Amateur Spy In Arabia

Norman Lewis

‘In the 1930s I wanted to travel and I wanted to write. In 1935, I published my first book—about a journey to Spain’.

Animals

Michel Laub

‘I only stopped playing with him when he began biting the fingers of anyone who tried to pet him.’

Anubis

Paul Murray

‘Here in space you don't often get the chance to meet women.’

Arithmetic Town

Todd McEwen

‘Free play is when you have fun instead of playing kickball.’

At The Kitchen Table

Peter Orner

‘Your husband dies, you’re a widow. There’s almost joy in it. Why not scream it? Glory.’

Auto-Suggestion

Toby Litt

‘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.’

B-ABEL

Jeremy Lane

‘Partial, our protagonist, to the palatal; prone, too, to the plosive; and apt, you’ve heard, to alliterate.’

Bears in Mourning

Adam Mars-Jones

‘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.’

Bicycle Thieves

Blake Morrison

‘Late June, scorched grass and sprinklers, the sky as if scuffed and beaten. Too hot to work, too lazy to think.’

Big Blue Bus

Etgar Keret

‘I want to I want to I want to I want to I want to I want to I want to.’

Black Bazaar

Alain Mabanckou

‘Roger The French-Ivorian understood that I didn’t appreciate his tone of voice and ordered two Pelforts to win me back.’

Blazing Sun

Tatiana Salem Levy

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

Blue Jay

Lillian Li

‘Like romantic love, you can’t ever replicate your first best-friendship.’

Bolivia, 1970

Ryszard Kapuściński

‘There is a demonstration on the other side of La Paz.’

Boy, Snow, Bird

Helen Oyeyemi

‘I didn’t enclose a note, though there were a few things I’d have liked to say. Restraint is classier.’

Cash is King

John Lanchester

Mr Phillips is lying face down on the floor of Barclays Bank.

Caterpillars

James Lasdun

‘But he had engulfed her somehow; taken up residence in her imagination like some large, dense, intractable problem that had been given to her to solve.’

Clough

Jon McGregor

‘She probably thinks this is all a game. There’s time yet.’

Come, Japanese!

Julie Otsuka

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

Conditions for the Revolution

Pola Oloixarac

‘Everything is there and not there at the same time.’

Cowboy Movie

Carolyn Osborn

‘All the cowboys are cheering John Wayne.’

Creatures of the Earth

John McGahern

‘They alone among all the creatures of the earth would never have to go that way.’

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.’