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A Brief History of Fire

Jennifer Vanderbes

‘My happiness was so deep I was afraid to speak of it.’

A Letter From Wales

Cynan Jones

‘Believe me – it will be impossible for you not to wonder – when I vow I am entirely sane.’

A World Intact

Adam Foulds

‘His life, unexciting as it may have been so far, was still a detailed, complicated thing.’

Abingdon Square

André Aciman

‘Your problem is not that you misread signs; it’s that you see them everywhere.’

After the Hedland

Evie Wyld

‘I feel the pull of being alone, of answering to no one, the safety of being unknown and far away.’

After the War

Patrick French

‘My antipathy to military culture started early and it wasn't helped by living in a garrison town.’

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.’

And Yet

Brian Evenson

‘She had waited expectantly for him to tell her a story to illustrate this, and to explain what those values were, but as with so many other things he had left it at that. It lingered in the air, waiting for her to pluck it up, but she had simply let it hang.’

Anwar Gets Everything

Tahmima Anam

‘Two ways a man can go here, in the direction of God or the direction of believing there is nothing up there but a sun that will kill you whether you pray five times or not.’

Arrivals

Sunjeev Sahota

‘But he couldn’t lose the sense that this was a turning point in his life, that she’d been delivered to him for a reason.’

Blood Money

Miroslav Penkov

‘At first the Gypsies didn’t know how to answer their cellphone.’

Blue Jay

Lillian Li

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

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.’

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.’

Don’t Fall in Love

Mohsin Hamid

‘She does not stare at you, but when your eyes meet, she does not look away.’

Driver

Taiye Selasi

‘I am the full-time driver here. I am not going to kill my employers. I have read that drivers do that now.’

Europa

David Szalay

‘What she was like ‘as a person’ he has no idea.’

Filsan

Nadifa Mohamed

‘Silence takes the place of all these words and her loneliness remains as dense and close as a shadow.’

From Dream to Dream

Yiyun Li

‘At what point had one’s life stopped belonging to one?’

Glow

Ned Beauman

‘Growing up, you got so used to all your secrets being sad or shameful that you came to assume they were, like alkyl halides, intrinsically neurotoxic, and now he had learned for the first time that they weren’t.’

Happiness

Andrés Neuman

‘My name is Marcos. I’ve always wanted to be Cristóbal.’

How We Got Mother Back

Valério Romão

‘With the passing of time we got used to hearing our brother being our mother.’

Interim Zone

Xiaolu Guo

‘His father had sent him into exile.’

Just Right

Zadie Smith

‘There’s no romance in that child whatsoever. No clue of the magic of storytelling. I’ll bet you a dollar she wears a girdle already.’

Late in Life

A.L. Kennedy

‘Eating figs is different for girls.’

Nuestra Señora de la Asunción

Lina Wolff

‘No one here is normal except you, and you’re not even from Spain.’

One More Last Stand

Callan Wink

‘It’s funny to think that we existed, us together, before either of our marriages.’

Paddleball

Colin Robinson

‘My brother and I can’t help but stand out in such a gritty locale.’

Persist

Zaina Arafat

‘I grew obsessed with the place, thinking that getting to see it, to experience it, would make the pain of that fall go away.’

Safety Catch

Lauren Wilkinson

Nothing dies because you can’t destroy energy.’

Sea Bean

Tim Fitts

‘Fred was the type whose worldview gazed through a shadow of things that could go wrong, like most of the South Philly lifers.’

Slow Motion

Adam Thirlwell

‘It really wasn’t normal for me to wake up and not know how I got there. A normal pastime for me was to be intent on mathematical problems, or models of voting patterns in different democratic states.’

Soon and in Our Days

Naomi Alderman

‘It is not often, even in Hendon, that one witnesses a miracle.’

Submersion

Ross Raisin

‘It is obvious now that we can have no control over our journey, or its end.’

Success

Adriana Lisboa

‘They hadn’t tried them yet but the girls both knew, from the adverts, that Hollywood cigarettes were awesome.’