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What Silence Knows

Anthony Shadid

‘Words can’t quite re-create the smell of war. I have found myself trying to wash it out of my hair, off my fingers. More than once, I have run water over the soles of my shoes.’

To the Castle and Back

Václav Havel

‘I am announcing that I have returned from the USA. I thank all of those who worked in the domestic resistance. Likewise I thank all of us who worked in the foreign resistance.’

Court

Blake Morrison

‘One by one they’re led into the box. They swear their oath. They confirm their name, their employment, why they were where they say they were, what it was they saw.’

West

Carys Davies

‘All I can say is that the only thing in the world I want to do now, is to go out there, into the west, and find them.’

Karl Kraus and Veza

Elias Canetti

‘It was natural that the rumors about both these people should reach me at the same time; they came from the same source, from which everything new for me came at that time.’

Painter to the King

Amy Sackville

‘There are many facets to being a king; and yet all edges must appear burnished to a perfect smooth orb, shining at the centre of his empire.’ An extract from Painter to the King by Amy Sackville.

Terminus

Pedro Rosa Mendes

‘We hope that the copilot knows the terrain well. That his mask of youth conceals the face of a seasoned veteran of war. That he knows the minefields because he helped plant them.’

Who Killed Tolstoy?

Elif Batuman

‘I walked along the birch-lined alleys of Yasnaya Polyana, looking for clues. Snakes were swimming in the pond, making a rippling pattern. Everything here was a museum.’

The Great Israeli novel of War and Doubt

Anne Meadows

Granta editor Anne Meadows writes about Khirbet Khizeh, the great Israeli novel of war and doubt.

Khirbet Khizeh

S. Yizhar

‘No one knows how to wait like soldiers. There is no time or place that soldiers are not waiting and waiting.’

Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned

Wells Tower

‘Thanks to the easy wind bellying our sails, we crossed fast and sighted the island six days early.’

Exquisite Corpse

Frances Stonor Saunders

‘Europe awoke to a freezing post-war dawn. The winter of 1947 was the worst ever recorded.’

Asymmetry

Lisa Halliday

An excerpt from Lisa Halliday's Asymmetry

Typing Practice

Barbara Ehrenreich

‘I didn’t start my journal with the idea of recording my progress toward the ultimate truth.’

Kent Will Tear Us Apart

Neil Belton

All the Devils Are Here was cursed with the status of a cult classic. It’s a book that people who’ve read it, especially writers, can never forget.

All the Devils Are Here

David Seabrook

‘A seaside shelter in the middle of autumn – it seems a strange choice.’

Peter Stamm on To the Back of Beyond

Peter Stamm & Luke Neima

Peter Stamm on the drive of freedom in literature, German Romanticism and narrational technique.

Do Not Say We Have Nothing

Madeleine Thien

‘In a single year, my father left us twice.’