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17 Melbourne Road

Oliver Reynolds

‘A room at the top of the street / preserving his life in sunlight’

20/20

Tatyana Tolstaya

'I didn't start out a writer, and had no plans of becoming one.' Tatyana Tolstaya, translated from the Russian by Anya Migdal

6 March 1989

Salman Rushdie

‘Damn, brother. You saw what they did to my face? / Poked out my eyes. Knocked teeth out of place’.

A Battle

Patrick Süskind

‘Early one August evening, when most people had already left the park, two men sat confronting one another across a chessboard.’

A Brief History of a Musical Failure

Catherine Tice

‘At the end of the piece, there was silence, followed by a sudden thunder of feet and bows on the stands. A thrilling noise.’

A Confession

Jess Row

‘I walk out of the theatre in a daze. I’ve glimpsed something. But a glimpse, as it turns out, is not enough.’

A Conversation Piece

George Steiner

‘No. Listen to me. God's confidence in Abraham was not total. Let me hammer out my meaning.’

A Description of the Architectural Impact of My Home, Age 7

Saïd Sayrafiezadeh

‘my apartment is neither over / nor under the sidewalk, / but both at once’

A Discourse on the Elephant

Richard Rayner

‘This is not the story of my life, at least not the story of all of it, but it is the story of my father.’

A Family in Nanjing

Colin Thubron

‘The old people had prepared a banquet for me - an extravagant spread of cold meats and dumplings which we ate with the prestige television blaring, and nobody watching it.’

A Few Words on the Life Cycle of Frogs

Patricio Pron

‘I wasn’t going to abandon the dream of literature, I was going to keep dreaming.’

A Guide to the City of Beirut

Fawwaz Traboulsi

‘In Beirut, a well reveals layer upon layer, generation after generation, of ruins.’

A Hippy Among Communists

Klaus Schlesinger

‘In March 1975, thirty years after the collapse of German fascism, N., a student from Berlin – bearded and long-haired – attended a series of lectures at a university on the Baltic coast.’

A Mid-life Crisis

Patrick Süskind

‘Just what exactly is it that belongs together, pray tell? Absolutely nothing!’

A New World

V. S. Pritchett

‘What was this new world? It was their love for each other.’

A Note on Shakespeare

Harold Pinter

‘Shakespeare writes of the open wound and, through him, we know it open and know it closed. We tell when it ceases to beat and tell it at its highest peak of fever‘, Harold Pinter in 'A Note on Shakespeare' in Granta 59: France: The Outsider.

A Place on Earth: Scenes from a War

Anjan Sundaram

Dense forest and formless roads lead Sundaram to the most recent sites of conflict, burnt-out villages where pigs have taken over their former owner’s homes in an ‘inversion of man and beast, of civilization and nature’.

A Play on Mothering

David Rakoff

‘His hands are a jewel box and I lean forward and peer in.’

A Preface to A.H.

Tony Tanner

‘Words can move mountains, but also Nuremberg rallies.’

A Prisoner of the Holy War

Wendell Steavenson

‘Thayr held out. He would not betray his country, he would not betray his leader.’

A Prize

Christine Schutt

‘He picked our little sister’s laces loose and made her cry.’

A Religious Conversation

Orhan Pamuk

‘"Hello, sir. Do you recognize me?" "No, I'm afraid I don't."’

A Scream of Toys

Alan Sillitoe

‘Edie looked a long time at blue sky in a pool of water after rain before dipping her finger down for a taste.’

A Sharing Economy

Karen Solie

‘The Paying Guest rises in the middle of the night / to turn off the radio where no radio exists’

A Short History of Coronation Ale

Graham Swift

‘Rest assured, it was no ordinary ale that they drank by the Ouse while in Westminster crowds thronged.’

A Soap Opera From Hell

Clive Sinclair

‘It comes as no surprise when an ophthalmist informs him that the tears he does produce–the consequence of various allergies–are deficient, poor-quality facsimiles of the real thing.’

A Suburban Weekend

Lisa Taddeo

‘The facts. Fern was skinnier than Liv, but Liv was blonde and tall and her breasts were enormous and thrillingly spaced.’

A Summer’s Evening in Beijing

Elizabeth Pisani

‘The air is light with the intoxicating fumes of impending martyrdom.’

A Visit to the Zoo

Colm Tóibín

‘The two chameleons in a glass case appeared to interest all of them, Heinrich thought, because of their beauty and their stillness. They looked like a pale painting.’

A Walk Through Manchester

Michael Symmons Roberts

‘The rich, tomato red that decorated most of my bedroom – curtains, lampshade, bedspread – and the pale, rinsed-out blue like a milky north-west sky that represented the other side.’

A Woman Wronged

Jeremy Seabrook

‘The dead do not leave us alone.’

A Woman’s Worth

Rajeswari Sunder Rajan

Rajeswari Sunder Rajan on the evolution of feminist judgments in India.

Abingdon Square Park

Rowan Ricardo Phillips

‘I once had had a thought / About a thought I once had had.’

About the Eel

Graham Swift

‘We have not yet come to the most remarkable episode in this quasi-mythological quest for the genesis of the eel.’

Africa Writes

Caitlin Pearson

The Royal African Society takes a look back at the history of the Africa Writes festival, their annual celebration of contemporary literature from Africa and the diaspora.