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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.’

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.’

Hawk

Joy Williams

‘As regards to life it is much the best to think that the experiences we have are necessary for us.’

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.’

Two Poems

Jack Underwood

‘We are nearing the conclusion of this anatomy. / We are strung between the point of ending, and / the point of having started.’

The Last Thing We Need

Claire Vaye Watkins

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

Frank’s Place

Richard Williams

‘Marilyn Monroe spent a couple of nights at the Cal-Neva. Sinatra knew she was in a bad way.’

Letter from Wyoming

Brad Watson

‘Before I moved to Wyoming in 2005, I was – like a lot of people outside this region, it turns out – not quite sure just where it was.’

Bulletproof Vest

Maria Venegas

‘Maybe you should consider moving’

Arithmetic on the Frontier

Declan Walsh

‘These days the tempest of Taliban violence ripping across the frontier has shaken Peshawar to its core.’

A Thousand Splendid Stuns

Morwari Zafar

‘More important than anything else that fateful year was the life-defining transcendence of Peter Gabriel.’

Persian Love

Alan Warner

‘It is 6:22 of what beauty and life's joy there is to extract’

Woman’s Body: An Owner’s Manual

Evie Wyld

‘In the year before my first period, my mother gives me a book called Woman’s Body, An Owner’s Manual.’

In The Tunnel

John Wray

‘It was a question of not thinking about what you were doing.’

Walled City of Hong Kong

Patrick Zachmann

‘I first went to Kowloon’s Walled City in 1987 with a Chinese friend. I returned there alone in the summer of last year.’

Ventimiglia

Joanna Walsh

‘Love is constant revolution, pure disruption, it can never be stilled.’

Life and Breasts

Ludmila Ulitskaya

‘My reminder of mortality came in early 2010, and I found the narrative that followed raw but completely engrossing. For the present, but only for the present, it is behind me.’

In the Village

Derek Walcott

‘I came up out of the subway and there were / people standing on the steps as if they knew / something I didn’t.’

Frogs

Mo Yan

‘Once the preposterous reality set in, we were overcome by sadness.’

Give it up for Billy

Edmund White

‘Were there moral cataracts that one could remove?’

Wheels of Progress

Gemini Wahhaj

‘Now Bangladesh survives only on aid, on other people feeding its people.’

Liberation Day

Christa Wolf

‘The world stubbornly refused to end and we were not prepared to cope with a world that refused to end.’

The Case Against Babies

Joy Williams

‘Babies, babies, babies. There’s a plague of babies.’

In Gikuyu, for Gikuyu, of Gikuyu

Binyavanga Wainaina

‘My first name, Binyavanga, has always been a sort of barometer of public mood.’

Beachcombing

Lucy Wood

‘He was stamped darkly onto the wide stretch of sea like a single footprint.’

Mirage

Claire Vaye Watkins

‘He had a mind to surf through all crises and shortages and conflicts past and present.’

Poor Lucky Kolyvanova

Ludmila Ulitskaya

‘The red girls’ school stood opposite a grey boys’ school, built five years after it as if to proclaim the rational symmetry of the world.’

The Barracks Thief

Tobias Wolff

‘My father was in Southern California, looking for work. Keith was still missing. The last time I'd spoken to her, my mother's voice had been cold, as if I were somehow to blame.’

Tomorrow, upon Awakening

Antônio Xerxenesky

‘He more than anybody else needs to define his symbols for the year to com.’

Self-Consciousness: Memoirs by John Updike

Edmund White

‘The freedom conferred by masks. Children and current wives cannot blame you for what your characters do and say.’

Handkerchief

Ghassan Zaqtan

‘Nothing’s left to say between us / everything went / into the train that hid its whistle.’

Notes from New York

James Wolcott

‘Now and then it can appear that an entire magazine is opening up the silks, searching for a soft place to land.’

Once Was Dark

Josh Weil

‘When he opened his eyes, she was looking out at the rooster, the sun-blasted concrete, the railing thinned to brittle by the brightness.’

Barrenland

A Yi

‘I no longer feared that she would entrap me; my heart would not soften.’

Orion

Jeanette Winterson

‘Every 200,000 years or so, the individual stars within each constellation shift position. That is, they are shifting all the time, but more subtly than any tracker dog of ours can follow. One day, if the earth has not voluntarily opted out of the solar system, we will wake up to a new heaven whose dome will again confound us.’