Granta | The Magazine of New Writing

Explore essays and memoir


Lovely Girls, Very Cheap

Decca Aitkenhead

‘A bar girl in Ko Samui is employed to attract customers. Almost every bar has at least one girl, and some of the larger bars have up to twenty’.

A Poet in Cuba

Reinaldo Arenas

‘Perfect totalitarian systems have always been in the vanguard: they modify not only the past and the future, but they also abolish the present.’

Thing with Feathers that Perches in the Soul

Anthony Doerr

‘It has to be love, doesn’t it? In however many of its infinite permutations?’


Helen Epstein

‘Fat Aids has become so common in Uganda, he told us, that if you say you are working on HIV people think you are a thief.’

Alive, Alive-Oh!

Diana Athill

‘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.’

A Literature for Politics: Introduction

Bill Buford

‘‘A Literature for Politics' is dedicated to a different set of possibilities - the possibilities of political engagement.’

Life Among the Pirates

Daniel Alarcón

‘When Jacinto was a boy, only rich people had books.’

We Have No Minorities

George Bowater

‘The state can burn houses but it can't stop the rain, can't round up all the sheep. It isn't an easy place to control.’

Naomi Alderman | My Writing Playlist

Naomi Alderman

Naomi Alderman shares five songs she loves to write to.

Where he was: Memories of my Father

Raymond Carver

‘June was summer nights and days, graduations, my wedding anniversary, the birthday of one of my children. June wasn't a month your father died in.’


Christopher de Bellaigue

‘As I observed the foreigners at the museum, who turned out mostly to be archaeologists, two American soldiers crossed towards the group’.

Against Travel Writing

Robyn Davidson

’Shortly after its publication in 1980 I was surprised to learn that I had written a travel book’.


James Buchan

‘I see in an instant what has brought people to the valley for four centuries.’

The First Sense

Robyn Davidson

‘Hearing, they say, is the first of the senses we develop in the womb.’

Mao Comes to Sydney

Georgia Blain

‘After all, it was only politics, and I was too young to understand.’


Chloe Aridjis

‘Yet the little white disks with a dent down the middle are no panacea; whenever I take one of these thought guillotines I feel trapped in a grey zone’.

The Fig Tree and the Wasp

Brian Chikwava

‘The day I first saw the dance was the day we had expected to end with the execution of my maternal grandfather.’


Rich Cohen

‘When everyone was asleep, we put on our boots and waded out into the drifts of Glencoe – a suburban street remade into an eerie winter-scape.’

The Plano Suicides

Stefan Merrill Block

‘My parents moved us to Plano for the reasons so many move to Plano: jobs, good schools, a town perfectly engineered to render successful families.’

Road to Chitral

Azhar Abidi

‘I wonder sometimes when this cycle of violence began. When was year zero?’

Letter from Greece

Meaghan Delahunt

‘The only thing between Greece and total collapse is the Greek family.’

Trouble at the Waterworks

Edward Blishen

‘Old age is a sustained process of injury. You are being very distinctly shot at.’

Undoing the folded lie: Poetry after 9/11

Rachael Allen

‘The real feeling of a day that changed everything forever is boiled down so incessantly, and so often, to cliché.’

Under Eastern Eyes

Timothy Garton Ash

‘They sit around, feet in slippers, drinking wine and swapping jokes about Chernobyl. They have just produced the best journal of new writing in Czechoslovakia. It took about twenty minutes.’

Mr Harris

Tony D’Souza

‘This is why you don’t go to the West Side, I told myself.’

An Irrelevant Parochialism

Frederick Bowers

‘What strikes an ex-patriate most about the contemporary British novel is its conformity, its traditional sameness, and its realistically rendered provincialism.’

The Tailor of Gujarat

Amit Chaudhuri

‘He was desperate for the photograph to cease to exist: as if the man in the photo and he are competing for the same oxygen.’

Witness: Butterflies on a Wheel

Anthony Doerr

‘Butterflies: a long, shimmering curtain.’

A Job on the Line

Desmond Barry

‘The atmosphere in the house was thick with my father's depression.’

Maruti 800

Rana Dasgupta

‘Like a tiny old woman surrounded by strapping grandsons, the Maruti 800 was in fact the progenitor of all that new, muscular, vehicular variety.’

To the Lighthouse

Helen Dunmore

‘There are novels which have an almost uncanny power to renew themselves in the reader’s imagination.’

The Foreign Correspondent

Pallavi Aiyar

‘The absence of Indian foreign correspondents was, and is, unexceptional.’

Poetry in Britain

Gillian Clarke

‘Poetry must always find new ways to sing, must be fresh, must surprise, must take us by the heart with its song, its imagery, its syntax. But it can still be simple, grammatical, and speak plain English.’

Fat Girls in Des Moines

Bill Bryson

‘When I was growing up I used to think that the best thing about coming from Des Moines was that it meant you didn't come from anywhere else in Iowa. By Iowa standards, Des Moines is a Mecca of cosmopolitanism, a dynamic hub of wealth and education, where people wear three-piece suits and dark socks, often simultaneously.’


Urvashi Butalia

‘Stories are all that people have, stories that rarely breach the frontiers of family and religious community’


Paul Eggers

'Mr Thanh, originally of Saigon, conducted his camp-wide rat pogrom so thoroughly that the kids were reduced to throwing rocks at each other.'