‘I do not do this work for the government, or the Taliban, or even the men who I collect from the battlefield and return to their loved ones. All these years I have done this for God.’
‘People love to say it to you like it counts: Oh, Lucia, she will live on in your memory.’
‘The dog was some sort of overbred weedling with a ribcage fine-boned as a chicken’s, a wizened rat’s face and a goony, perpetually bloodshot stare that made Dev Hendrick want to punt the thing over the garden gate.’
Green, Mud, Gold
‘She shuts her eyes and pictures ears growing out through her ears, her spine turning to wood, pictures herself as a girl-woman scarecrow, arms opened wide, and nailed to two posts in the centre of a great green, mud and gold expanse, crucified.’
‘I have gone to the forest to lie among the moss and sleep under a canopy of trees. I have gone to the forest to root among the soil and listen to the birds.’
‘Nathan: there’s something in the basement. In the locked rooms I was telling you about.’
Our Last Guest
‘Maybe anyone becomes unbearable after enough time in the honeymoon suite.’ Rowan Hisayo Buchanan’s story of eternity á deux.
His Middle Name Was Not Jesus
‘He didn’t know their language but understood it in their boiling voices, the heat on their faces, how they singed each other with their eyes.’
Here We Are
‘‘Here we are,’ she said, as we faced each other, and my whole body rushed with goosebumps.’
‘This is why he will survive this war to return to his wife and daughter, barring a blind bullet, an errant piece of shrapnel, some careless act of destiny.’
‘In the not-too-distant future, all men would be on their feet, reduced to wearing out their soles on the streets.’
Whatever Happened to Interracial Love?
‘It’s the year of “the human being”. The year of race-creed-color blindness. It’s 1963.’
The Birds of June
‘Her dreams were interrupted occasionally by the sound of the cow and her newborn calf from the outhouse sheds. A low bellow would crinkle the folds of her mind and then seconds later it would be answered from some other shed in the distance.’
‘Lib didn’t like to bang harder in case of disturbing the family. Brightness leaked from the door of the byre, off to her right. Ah, the women had to be milking. A trail of melody; was one of them singing to the cows?’
Ethelbert and the Free Cheese
‘It was against the understood traditions of society to prepare Sunday lunch without macaroni pie.’ 2016 Commonwealth Short Story Prize – regional winner for the Caribbean.
‘My cousin is an artist. He says, You draw some good knives but you still need to work on your stab wounds.’
The Good Citizens
‘In the black fog of her grief, Anna Kraft received an invitation.’
‘It wasn’t that he didn’t have a name, only that he was having difficulty locating it.’
‘When I sleep, I dream of Will standing on our bed, flicking a whip against our faces. He draws blood.’
‘Nothing has changed, Edgar said. What new event is written into their history? None. Where is their future? Nowhere. Are they against or for progress? It was dark when Edgar took the box outside down to the rubbish heap and sprinkled the dead moths upon the ashes of the diseased pawpaw.’ Janet Frame on an unsettling natural process.
‘The bag was full of fresh dogshit. The note attached read For my children and theirs.’
‘I felt intolerably miserable. There were posters everywhere reminding me I was Manless’
Bastard Alias the Romantic
‘Can you imagine what it would be like if instead of killing we cuddled?’
While the Nightjar Sleeps
‘But while the nightjar sleeps,’ said the mole, ‘it dreams of what it used to be and still sees beyond what isn’t true. And so can we, if we choose to look.’
Dynamics in the Storm
‘You only have time to live your own life, and mine was falling apart.’
In the not-so-distant future, middle-class underachievers are faced with a difficult choice: prison or motivational business classes.
Cow and Company
‘And now there were four of them stepping out to look for a cow.’ 2016 Commonwealth Short Story Prize overall winner.
‘When I picture my childhood, it’s like I’m swimming underwater.’ Merethe Lindstrøm’s story is translated from the Norwegian by Marta Eidsvåg, and is the winner of Harvill Secker’s Young Translators’ Prize 2016.
‘She’d gotten so used to her loneliness, she didn’t want to fall from it now.’