An Open Letter to Mbeki
‘You are human, Mr Mbeki, and are therefore prey to the resentments and obstinacies that plague the mere mortal.’
An Unfathomable Ship
‘It is the name of an American ammunition ship which went aground in the summer of 1944; as a result the ship sank, since which time only the tips of its derricks and masts and a corner of the bridge are visible.’
‘This snapshot of us in the foyer of the MuSoN Hall has come to symbolize a lot of things to me. Our smiles seem to say that the worst for our country is over, we are gazing beyond the camera into a new and brighter future, where we could be poets without fear of arrest, murder or exile. We had cheques worth 50,000 naira and 20,000 naira in our pockets. But above all the picture is a confirmation of my deepest dream, that of becoming a writer.’
‘Anthony’s life was a triumph and a tragedy. It was a tragedy which I believe he foresaw.’
Anushka Jasraj | Interview
‘I’ve never really had any readership, apart from fellow writers who have been forced to read my stories in writing workshops.’
‘I could make you promise much worse things.’ Daniel Galera muses on unknown family histories.
‘He remembered the new, fresh, orchard country of his youth and the rows of apple trees his father had planted on the east bank of the Columbia River.’
Are We Related?
‘Most family relationships are difficult, and sometimes they can become the most difficult human relationships of all.’
Arguing With The Dead
‘My childhood was spent in Kimberley, the diamond-mining town in South Africa.In those years most of the mines were no longer being worked’.
Asking for it
‘Having my hair cut one morning in February 1999, I fell foul of one of those barber-shop discussions which are a feature of life here in Italy’.
At War With Writing About War
‘Perhaps a more precise and academicish moniker for War Literature would be, Suicide Averted In Favour of Writing.’
August in my Father’s House
‘Dinner has been cleared away from the table under the mulberry tree, and she is sitting at the table with a wine glass in her hand watching the light dwindling away behind the purple leaves of the Japanese maple.’
‘At nine o’clock the man leaves the flat dressed in an elegant salmon-pink dress’.
Barely Imagined Beings
‘Monsters of one kind or another are woven into virtually all the cultures of which we have record.’
Beethoven Was One Sixteenth Black
‘Once there were blacks wanting to be white. Now there are whites wanting to be black.’
‘The nun beside me on the helicopter this morning had a tight, self-righteous face.’
Best of Young American Novelists 2: Introduction
Ian Jack introduces Granta 97: Best of Young American Novelists 2.
Best of Young British Novelists 2003: Introduction
‘What had been an exercise to publicize the literary novel, at a time when there were few spotlights on this particular branch of culture, might now have a new role as an independent consumer's guide to novelists who deserved to be read in an era where 'a thrilling debut by a young writer of enormous talent' is the standard blurb, and where there are now so many spotlights directed by marketing money and the size of the writer's advance.’
‘The thrill of this film – and it is thrilling – is seeing that understood and played out by actors of incredible skill.’
Black Against the Sky, the Giant Mothers
‘Black against the sky the giant mothers / are whispering together in the moonlight’
‘Driving along la Séptima, the main road into the centre of Bogotá, we find ourselves blocked by a high-speed convoy.’
‘'Hey, I saw an Inuk once with a hat that said: INSTANT ASSHOLE. JUST ADD ALCOHOL'.’
Borges and Me, and Me
‘What would be the point of writing anything if I went down in history as the person who killed Borges?’
‘Water curls through the Fortaleza slum: sewer water. It drains between shacks made of sticks and mud, and is pretty when it catches the sun’.
Bucharest, 26 December 1989
Léonard Freed's photographs of Bucharest on 26 December 1989, in Granta 31: The General.