About the Cover
‘My attempts are mocked by the monstrosities that leer up at me from the page.’
According to Your Will
‘Thank you, God,’ said the boys, ‘for not making me a woman.’ ‘Thank you, God,’ said the girls, ‘for making me according to Your will.’
Acts of Infidelity
‘Anticipation made it difficult for Ester to swallow.’ Translated from the Swedish by Saskia Vogel.
‘Me always untorn and enslaved / Weird notions of gender and ground / Nothing but you between me and god.’
Africa’s Future Has No Space for Stupid Black Men
‘The night was full of energy. The kind of energy that Africa needs to reinvent itself.’
After Ann Lauterbach
‘The piano eyes me / from its corner – / colluding with the past’
After Caravaggio’s Sacrifice of Isaac
‘It was right after he was born that I started looking at paintings.’
‘A woman asked the steward behind the registration desk if our flight to Moscow was domestic or international. “We are still working on that,” the man answered.’
Against Travel Writing
’Shortly after its publication in 1980 I was surprised to learn that I had written a travel book’.
‘Having told his story, the thief had said goodbye to Agnès, regretfully, she thought’.
Alexander Chee | Portrait of My Father
‘He left for the US while his father was away on business so he couldn’t stop him.’
‘She thought of herself as a rational woman, but while she could sleep alone in an empty house for night after night without worrying, there were other nights when her nerves twitched like a rabbit's at the least sound.’
All That Follows
‘Leonard Lessing does not dream of Maxie Lemon, Maxim Lermontov, the hostage-taker.’
‘From the small terrace at Cherry's villa there is a perfect view of Villefranche and its bay, edged by the bright beads of the harbour lights and headlamps of cars on the coast road.’
‘When I first worked here, the neighbourhood was not called Alphabet City. It was the Puerto Rican part of the Lower East Side and the Puerto Ricans called it Loisaida, low-ee-SIGH-da, a new York-Puerto Rican version of Lower East Side.’
America’s Secret War
‘Morales’s troubles began in the spring of 1984, when he was indicted for conspiracy to import and distribute cocaine. It was this awkward development that made him particularly receptive to the proposal he received from a delegation of Contras and a CIA man that turned up at his Opa-locka office soon after the bad news.’
Amit Chaudhuri | First Sentence
‘A scene in which nothing is ostensibly happening will absorb me; so will a paragraph that contains no vital piece of information.’
Amy Bloom | Five Things Right Now
Amy Bloom shares five things she’s reading, watching and thinking about right now.
An Ofrenda for my Mother
‘She was a prisoner-of-war mother, banging on the bars of her cell all her life.’
‘The whole meeting seemed completely unreal but then everything at that time seemed unreal, so I said ‘Yes, by all means make the film,’ and went back to the hospital and forgot about her.’
‘Alan was adept at not answering questions, but actually he rarely needed to, because I never asked them.’
An Irrelevant Parochialism
‘What strikes an ex-patriate most about the contemporary British novel is its conformity, its traditional sameness, and its realistically rendered provincialism.’
An Island Presence
‘I can almost believe in the permanence of these warm days, this unchanging child whose hand fits mine. But I can feel the cold and the darkness coming.’
And Never Come Up
‘Was there a story? Yes, there was always a story .Did you write this one down? I've written them all down’.
‘She had waited expectantly for him to tell her a story to illustrate this, and to explain what those values were, but as with so many other things he had left it at that. It lingered in the air, waiting for her to pluck it up, but she had simply let it hang.’
‘Christine’s hair had begun to dry, and she looked different, with her hair down and her glasses on. Her earnestness made her look younger, and took me back to the bar where we’d sat in Pennsylvania years ago.’
An excerpt from Animalia by Jean-Baptiste Del Amo, translated from the French by Frank Wynne.
Ann Beattie | First Sentence
‘Several times I’ve wanted to title something one thing, but have realized or been persuaded it isn’t a good idea.’
In 2007 Katherine Boo travelled to Annawadi – a slum built on Mumbai Airport land – to document the lives of the families living there.
‘To the inexperienced, hurricane stories always sound like exaggerations.’