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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.’

Girl on Girl

Diane Cook

‘Marni on Mack. Mack in Marni. A little Mack and Marni. My head rushes. I want to watch, hear the sounds.’

The Indian Uprising

Ann Beattie

‘Then winter ended and spring came, and I thought, even if I don’t believe there’s a poem in anything any more, maybe I’ll write a story.’

The Mast Year

Diane Cook

‘Sounds like a mast year . . . it’s a thing that happens to trees. But sometimes it happens to people too.’

Self-Portrait

Martin Amis

‘You’ve got your catflap, I’ve got my guy.’

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.’

The Bees that Disappeared

Keiichiro Hirano

‘It was during this period that I got to know K, one of the local mailmen.’

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.’

Hare in Love

Sam Coll

A wry, fanciful fable about how love can transform both nature and fate.

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.’

The Love Machine

Julia Elliott

‘Beatrice was my first love. The dark contours of her delicate skeleton, the glowing flesh made translucent by my X-ray gaze, drove me crazy.’

Bad Seeds

Masatsugu Ono

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

Thank You for Having Me

Lorrie Moore

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

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.

Breakfast

Toshiki Okada

‘If I had known she were heading for Tokyo then, and if I had known she thought of Tokyo as a city of zombies, I would have wanted to know, of course, whether she saw me that way, too.’

In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman

‘My wife and I were both the children of Pakistanis, immigrants, Muslims, and we had faith that our union was of things greater than ourselves.’

Kinder Than Solitude

Yiyun Li

‘Being let down was Celia’s fate; life never failed to bestow upon her pain and disappointment she had to suffer on everyone’s behalf, so that the world could go on being a good place, free from real calamities.’

Once Was Dark

Josh Weil

‘When he opened his eyes, she was looking out at the rooster, the sun-blasted concrete, the railing thinned to brittle by the brightness.’

The Blood Drip

Brian Evenson

‘They had stumbled upon a town and tried to approach it, but had been driven off with stones.’

Some Heat

Miranda July

‘No one knows why ripping up a name makes a person call – science can’t explain it. Erasing the name also works.’

After Ida

Elise Winn

‘The year I turned seventeen, the cicada chorus was deafening, as if they were impatient for the real beginning of summer and didn’t realize they were it.’

Holiday

Mona Simpson

‘‘I have a body now,’ I whisper.’

How Am I Supposed to Talk to You | New Voices

Lauren Holmes

‘Okay don’t sell yourself,’ said my mom, ‘sell the American dream.’

Mirage

Claire Vaye Watkins

‘He had a mind to surf through all crises and shortages and conflicts past and present.’

Car Concentrate

Etgar Keret

‘Women mostly touch it tentatively with the backs of their hands.’

Pink

Tomoyuki Hoshino

‘Spinning makes all that is illusory fall away.’ Translated from the Japanese by Brian Bergstrom.

Hush . . . Hush Sweet Charlotte

Kazushige Abe

‘The crucial thing was to cool the baby off, bring the fever down.’

Bucket of Eels

Mitsuyo Kakuta

‘I was gazing into my empty bowl and realizing how little time it takes to eat when you’re not carrying on a conversation.’

Variations on a Theme by Mister Donut

David Mitchell

‘But what if he answers in Martian? I’ll die.’

Ghosts

Brian Hart

‘The road pleasantly gained and lost elevation, flood gauges in dry washes and scraggy hilltops, corners that begged for two wheels not four.’

Blasphemy

Fatima Bhutto

The tourists are gone. They’ve fled to Islamabad, along with the landlords and the hoteliers and the battalions of police that used to defend them, and certainty has left with them.

My Mother’s Death Party

Ben Janse

‘When I was eleven I fell out of a tree. This is why I can see into the future.’

Books and Roses

Helen Oyeyemi

‘A golden chain was fastened around her neck, and on that chain was a key.’

Zoraida

Tanya Rey

‘Desire was a slapping, bone-chilling wind the likes of which did not exist this close to the equator.’

Sand

John Biguenet

‘The catastrophe had not happened to all of us, we began to understand, but to each of us.’