All silky and wonderful
A trip on a commuter train takes a surreal turn in new fiction by Ben Pester.
My Mother Pattu
Saraswathy M. Manickam’s ‘My Mother Pattu’ is the Asian regional winner of the 2019 Commonwealth Short Story Prize.
Harley Hern’s ‘Screaming’ is the Pacific regional winner of the 2019 Commonwealth Short Story Prize.
A Season on Earth
‘He had forgotten in the seminary how many distractions there were in the world.’
The Sole Purveyor of Madame Bovary in Beijing circa 1989
‘In the day, his bevy of besotted rustics were coached in maxims of libertarian socialism. By night: rice wine orgies and folk punk sing-alongs.’
‘The bro has a pair of plump dogs over which he deploys nauseating quantities of ketchup.’
Rules for Visiting
‘It wasn’t until the end of dinner, when my aunt started clearing and my grandmother demanded another bottle of wine, that I began to understand.’
American Girl and Boy from Shobrakheit
‘Question: is romance just a father who never carried you to bed carrying you, at last, to bed?’
The Summer After the War
‘As it was, my grandfather began helping me to paint without my having to ask him.’
‘Characteristically my wife refused to be drawn into the situation while I became obsessed with it.’
‘Vicky says I’m crazy. She said worse things too last night. But who could blame her?’
The Little Winter
‘She remembered being happy off and on that day, and then looking at things and finding it all unkind.’
At Yankee Stadium
‘From a series of linked couples they become one continuous wave, larger all the time.’
Agnes of Iowa
‘Through college she had been a feminist – more or less. She shaved her legs, but just not often enough, she liked to say.’
Always the Same Snow and Always the Same Uncle
‘Who knows: what I write I must eat, what I don’t write – eats me.’
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.’
‘We’re trying to prove that it’s possible to live sustainably and not be such a freak about it.’
‘It had taken Noni many years to stop wishing she’d been a woman like that.’
A Mother’s Dilemma
‘I can hear the girl scratching a pencil inside a notebook. I don’t like it. I’ve asked her not to write about me.’
‘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.’
An excerpt from Animalia by Jean-Baptiste Del Amo, translated from the French by Frank Wynne.
The Polyglot Lovers
‘When we were sixteen years old, I broke Johnny’s nose with the back of my hand.’
The Main Thing Is to Keep the Front Garden Immaculate
An extract from Beton Rouge by Simone Buchholz, translated from the German by Rachel Ward.
An extract from Vintage 1954 by Antoine Laurain, translated from the French by Emily Boyce and Jane Aitken.
At the Edge of Night
An excerpt from Friedo Lampe’s At the Edge of Night, translated from the German by Simon Beattie.
The Silk Road
‘The choice of starting point wasn’t important; the important thing was to cycle through the same sequence of edges.’