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Best Book of 1950: A Natural History of Trees by Donald Culross Peattie

James Pogue

‘Now more than ever environmentalists need to remember what it’s like to write for that real world.’

Best Book of 1868: Dostoevsky’s The Idiot

Laurie Sheck

‘The beauty of The Idiot lies in its opposition to closed systems.’

Best Book of 2013: When the World Became White by Dalia Betolin-Sherman

Mira Rashty

‘New poetic expressions can still emerge and evolve in Hebrew – an ancient and almost prehistoric language, with its grumbling sound’

Best Book of 2008: Atmospheric Disturbances by Rivka Galchen

Mika Taylor

‘Rivka Galchen’s debut novel is one of my favourites from the last few years.’

Best Book of 2015: Letters Against the Firmament

Max Porter

‘So much good poetry is being written in and about and for this ghastly time. I cling to it.’

Best Book of 1994: The Land of Green Plums by Herta Müller

Eliza Robertson

‘You'd have to have lived through that bleakness. You'd have to know with your body, your hands, your eyes, your mouth, the weight of that fear – how it’s not strictly describable.’

Best Book of 1970: Moominvalley in November

Aleksi Pöyry

‘This is a book I always return to for its melancholy tone, warm humour and psychological insight.’

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby: Best Book of 1995

Ted Robinson

‘It was a story about music and relationships.’

The Cult of the Hindu Cowboy

Snigdha Poonam

‘The Hindu cowboy accords to the cow the holiest status in his imagination: of mother. It is his duty to protect her honour; it is his privilege to kill for her.’

Introduction

Sigrid Rausing

‘What future youth movement might capture them, those international participants in virtual hunts?’

Peace Shall Destroy Many

Miriam Toews

‘It creates deep-seated wells of rage that find no release.’ Miriam Toews on pacifism in Mennonite communities.

The Interpreters: Among the Brahmins of Benares

Aatish Taseer

‘That first sight of the city curled around the river goes through me like the breath of something old and known and familiar.’ Aatish Taseer revisits Varanasi.

Your Youth

Kelly Schirmann

‘I have never been in love / with so many variants of nothing.’

My Angel

Adam Thorpe

‘I am full of unreal desires and worthless imaginings.’

Things I Never Told Her

Marian Ryan

‘I will lay down what I want, and I will get it, and prove I am not the kind of woman who is controlled by a man.’

The White Bloc

James Pogue

‘This election made clear that white people in this country have begun to vote how Southern whites always have: as a bloc.’

Her Boy

Mika Taylor

‘She is the first dolphin mother, Peter her boy genius.’

Five Things Right Now: Eliza Robertson

Eliza Robertson

‘For me, astrology’s opened this new language and field of understanding.’

What’s Not There Can’t Hurt You

Sara Taylor

‘A shadow gained body and grew, looming over the bed, and he caught the impression of long teeth and many limbs, smelled something claylike and vegetal.’

Labyrinth of the Heart

Mark Slouka

‘Every marriage is forged differently; some crack at a touch, others endure beyond belief, still others are tempered by events and time.’

Memoirs of a Polar Bear

Yoko Tawada

‘I was perfectly content with my new life until I began to write my autobiography.’

The Maenad

Eliza Robertson

‘She feels the wildness enter her and keeps her eyes shut.’ New fiction from Eliza Robertson.

Travels in Pornland

Andrea Stuart

‘I can easily recall my first brush with porn’

Our Shining Castle

Julia Rochester

‘Europe, for me, meant family.’

Do Not Say We Have Nothing

Madeleine Thien

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

Why We’re Post-Fact

Peter Pomerantsev

‘We are living in a ‘post-fact’ or ‘post-truth’ world. Not merely a world where politicians and media lie – they have always lied – but one where they don’t care whether they tell the truth or not.’

Putting Down Strangers

Adam Thorpe

‘Home, after all, is a continual plangent threnody in the often uninterpretable clamour of being an immigrant.’ Adam Thorpe on Brexit.

Introduction

Sigrid Rausing

‘To know love is to know (or to imagine) the loss of love.’

First Love

Gwendoline Riley

‘It must be a dreadful cross: this hot desire to join in with people who don’t want you.’

I Used to Go for Long Walks in the Evenings

Stephen Sexton

‘My celebrity accumulated like a kidney stone: / children, pets, even some corvids recognised me’

Idioglossia

Eimear Ryan

‘There is no face more familiar than one’s own.’

The Hand’s Breadth Murders: Out-takes

Gus Palmer

‘You could look all over the world without finding traditions that have lasted as long as the ones here.’

Eel

Stefanie Seddon

‘The eel I saw was the one lying deep and quiet and alone in his coppery pool in the bush.’ 2016 Commonwealth Short Story Prize – regional winner for Europe and Canada.

Republicans

James Pogue

‘This American says he’s heard of Cross but that he’s still just passing through.’ He laughed and formed the shape of a pistol with his right hand. ‘Well you heard that part, didn’t ya? That is one thing that will never change here.’

Introduction

Sigrid Rausing

‘But Ireland is Ireland. It resists and relishes its own national images in equal measure.’