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How to Write about Africa

Binyavanga Wainaina

‘Always end your book with Nelson Mandela saying something about rainbows or renaissances. Because you care.’

The Seventh Man

Haruki Murakami

‘I looked up at the sky. A few grey cotton chunks of cloud hung there, motionless.’

Passport Control

Kwame Dawes

‘I am Ghanaian. This is my legal label. I was born there. It is my inheritance.’

Into the Cosmos

Chloe Aridjis

‘In those fervently atheist times, it wasn’t God or his angelic messengers who would come forth from the sky, but the cosmonaut.’

A Walk to Kobe

Haruki Murakami

‘What I’m talking about is a different sea, and different mountains.’ Haruki Murakami walks to his hometown after the Great Hanshin earthquake of 1995.

Outside the Whale

Salman Rushdie

‘For a man as truthful, direct, intelligent, passionate and sane as Orwell, ‘politics’ had come to represent the antithesis of his own world-view.’

Clara

Janice Galloway

‘She shifts, half in shadow. Whatever else, she's certainly a child. No one is with her.’

Envy

Kathryn Chetkovich

‘Why does it hurt only to read good work by the living?’

The Man at the River

Dave Eggers

‘All he wants is to be a man sitting on a riverbed.’

Jubilee

Carys Davies

‘His name was Arthur Pritt, he said, and he was sorry for the day.’

Jumping Monkey Hill

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

‘His accent was what the British called posh, the kind some rich Nigerians tried to mimic and ended up sounding unintentionally funny.’

Human Moments in World War III

Don DeLillo

‘Happiness is not a fact of this experience, at least not to the extent that one is bold enough to speak of it.’

Lessons

Justin Torres

‘We were six snatching hands, six stomping feet; we were brothers, boys, three little kings locked in a feud for more.’

Mungo Among the Moors

T. Coraghessan Boyle

‘At an age when most young Scotsmen were lifting skirts, ploughing furrows and spreading seed, Mungo Park was displaying his bare buttocks to al-haff Ali Ibn Fatoudi, Emir of Ludamar.’

Gift for a Sweetheart

Isabel Allende

‘Horacio Fortunato was forty-six when the languid Jewish woman who was to change his roguish ways and deflate his fanfaronade entered his life.’

Tommy

Donald Ray Pollock

‘I began working at the Mead Paper Company in Chillicothe, Ohio, in the summer of 1973.’

Empire

Richard Ford

‘Outside on the cold air, flames moved and divided and swarmed the sky. And Sims felt alone in a wide empire, removed and afloat, calmed, as if life was far away now, as if blackness was all around.’

Some Other Katherine

Sam Byers

‘There were days when it seemed sordid and doomed; days which, oddly, Katherine found more romantic than the days of hope.’

Rock Springs

Richard Ford

‘But as I read on a napkin once, between the idea and the act a whole kingdom lies. And I had a hard time with my acts, which were oftentimes offender's acts.’

Runs Girl | New Voices

Chinelo Okparanta

‘The year Mama fell sick was the year Njideka confessed to me that she was a runs girl.’

Lavande

Ann Beattie

‘It seemed impossible, but probably everyone marries thinking such a thing impossible.’

How to be Gay and Indian

Manil Suri

‘This was supposed to be my great in-your-face coming-out campaign, which I’d fretted over for months beforehand. Had India suddenly lost its conservativeness, turned enlightened, even hip?’

Jim Magee’s Hill

Pamela Petro

‘No one who’s seen The Hill has been able to describe it to me without visceral discomfort. Actually, no one’s been able to describe it at all.’

Thailand

Haruki Murakami

‘Living and dying are, in a sense, things of equal value.’

Motley Notes

Ian Jack

‘What was it like to work in such a place?’

Mnemosyne, Teen Taals, and Tottenham Court Road

Russell Hoban

‘Music is a puissant recaller of time past; music is memory's sister and for its very life relies on memory to hold in our minds the passage of sounds through time.’

How It Ends

Andrew O’Hagan

‘Seagulls murmur overhead, and nip at the banks. You can hear almost nothing.’

Year of the Monkey

Fan Wu

‘I stood in front of the roller coaster, whose winding tracks looked like intestines in a demon's stomach.’

One Day I Will Write About This Place

Binyavanga Wainaina

‘We are, it seems, in the middle of nowhere.’

Dance Cadaverous

Uzodinma Iweala

‘It just seemed like the right thing to want, the right thing to do.’

A Lovely and Terrible Thing

Chris Womersley

‘For a moment I could not speak. I looked off into the bleak distance, then at this man, and there was something about the sad shake of his head and the way his hair flapped about on his scalp that filled me with unreasonable warmth.’

Dear Peter

Simon Armitage & Ted Hughes

An unpublished letter by Ted Hughes, introduced by Simon Armitage. ‘It’s reassuring to see a spelling mistake (‘style’ for stile), and I love the maps.’

The Last Thing We Need

Claire Vaye Watkins

‘I think there will be lightning tonight; the air has that feel.’

Made in China

Isabel Hilton

‘Visiting a factory was one thing; working in one quite another.’

The Life and Death of a Homosexual

Pierre Clastres

‘There was no sweetness in the air that day: the corpse gave off a terrible stench’.

Mona’s Story

Urvashi Butalia

‘I’m a woman, I’ve always wanted to be one, it’s that simple.’