‘I am not saying you cannot be gay. How hard is it to be normal and gay?’
‘Quitting drugs – what an idea. How final and unaccommodating. Like being left without faith or protection in a pagan world.’ An extract from Jeet Thayil’s Low.
Anna Leader’s translation of ‘Real Men’ by Mohamed Mbougar Sarr is the winner of the 2019 Harvill Secker Young Translators’ Prize.
Lois and Varga
‘Shells, like the kind on the sand of the beach, that’s all they are. That’s all any of us are. All these colored shells, each one trying to be picked up before the rest.’ New fiction by Lisa Taddeo.
To the Dogs
A short story by Jianan Qian on stray dogs, desperation and re-education in rural China during the Cultural Revolution.
The Water Tower and the Turtle
‘It was safe to say I didn’t really know anybody in this town at all.’ New fiction translated from the Japanese by Polly Barton.
The Marriage Finger
‘On the marriage finger was a gold ring topped with a big prong-set stone.’ New fiction by Kathryn Scanlan.
‘It didn’t take long for the citizens of Moscow to realize that if you had no choice but to stand in line, then Pushkin was the man to stand next to.’
‘Our reasons for purchasing a reJesus no doubt require little explanation.’
‘To be fair, it is near a waterfall; although, to be fair again, everything around here is near a waterfall.’
Alexia Tolas’ Granma’s Porch is the Caribbean regional winner of the 2019 Commonwealth Short Story Prize.
Constantia Soteriou’s ‘Death Customs’, translated from the Greek by Lina Protopapa, is the winner of the 2019 Commonwealth Short Story Prize.
All silky and wonderful
A trip on a commuter train takes a surreal turn in new fiction by Ben Pester.
A Man’s Life
‘I wished my family would die, my friends too, everybody I knew, because only that way could they never follow me wherever I went.’
My Enemy’s Cherry Tree
‘And the truth is, my heart was tied in knots, and pain bored into the marrow of my bones when I heard about his illness.’
‘It had taken Noni many years to stop wishing she’d been a woman like that.’
‘For the governesses, moving in with Monsieur and Madame Austeur was like a homecoming.’
The Pine Islands
‘Gilbert Silvester woke up distraught. Mathilda’s black hair lay spread out on the pillow next to him, tentacles of a malevolent pitch-black jellyfish.’
New fiction from Olga Tokarczuk, translated from the Polish by Jennifer Croft.
The Nature of Man
‘Viewed from above, the traffic was reflective as water, cars moving in wavelike shimmers over the surface of the freeway.’
‘I put the breast milk in the fridge and lie down on the bed. I pretend I am dead, underneath the earth with a bag of Cheetos.’
‘Haste did not grip the animal. He paced before me languidly, tracing small circles; then, in a single pounce he reached the fireplace.’
Letter of Apology
‘One can only argue with an intellectual like Konstantyn Illych if one speaks to him on his level.’
‘We have to reverse-engineer our genius so that we can appreciate the simple things.’
A young film composer turns to prostitution in a short story by Naben Ruthnum, set in a Rome of the early 1970s.
‘The Minutes’ by Nell Stevens is shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award 2018.
‘I looked back and there was something wrong about his hand – how it cupped her bottom, how it probed.’
‘It was a red-light district and a plywood market and a town of hoodlums in one. I’ll add one more thing: The whole place stunk of sewage.’
A new story from Terese Svoboda about love, money and power in the hands of an aging parent.
‘When we have liberated ourselves, we will have to ask ourselves who we are.’
‘After the first time they had sex, Marianne stayed the night in his house.’ New fiction from Sally Rooney.
‘Because I spent a large amount of time convincing people to buy clothing they would never actually wear, it was easy to convince myself the same.’
‘Even in a year in which Brazilians are not that excited about the competition, once the ref whistles and the match kicks off, an entire nation is frozen, hypnotised before their television screens. It’s the great truce, the great anaesthetic.’