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An Island Presence

Howard Cunnell

‘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.’

Anecdotes

Ann Beattie

‘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.’

Ann Beattie | First Sentence

Ann Beattie

‘Several times I’ve wanted to title something one thing, but have realized or been persuaded it isn’t a good idea.’

Antediluvian

John Biguenet

‘To the inexperienced, hurricane stories always sound like exaggerations.’

Aquino, Marcos and the White House

Mark Malloch Brown

‘Marcos had, in effect, trapped Washington into appearing to endorse a snap election, and the administration - both State Department and White House - was forced to redefine its position.’

Assault by Water

Tim Binding

‘Having come here for a purpose, to trace the fault line of his own history, he searches for the year that saw its inception.’

Bad Women, Good Feminists?

Damian Barr

‘I was told I was not a feminist and never could be, because I was a man.’

Baghdad Diary

Nuha al-Radi

‘Other countries do wrong: look what Russia did in Afghanistan, or Turkey invading Cyprus, or Israel taking over Palestine and Lebanon. Nobody bombed them senseless. They were not even punished. Perhaps we have too much history.’

Bandit

Molly Brodak

‘There are fragments of a criminal alongside fragments of a dad, and nothing overlaps, nothing eclipses the other, they’re just there, next to each other. No narrative fits.’

Before They Began to Shrink

Nic Dunlop

‘The numbers killed at Aughrim that day will never be known.’

Beirut | Dispatches

Lana Asfour

‘I was determined that this latest crisis wouldn’t keep me out of the country of my birth.’

Benjamin Anastas | Portrait of My Father

Benjamin Anastas

‘For years when I was growing up, I passed underneath this double-nude every time I climbed up or down the stairs in my father’s house.’

Benjamin Pell Versus the Rest of the World

Tim Adams

‘You hear Benjamin Pell long before you see him.’

Best Book of 1943: ­Love In A Fallen City­ by Eileen Chang

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

‘Eileen Chang writes perfectly for the romantic in an unromantic and unrelenting world.’

Best Book of 1971: Malina by Ingeborg Bachmann

Kevin Breathnach

‘The novel submits to an internalized discipline: it is an observation machine’

Best Book of 1982: Dictee by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha

Eleanor Chandler

‘While the terrible pain of speech is made clear, this book ultimately reminds us that we must not be silenced.’

Best Book of 1991: Mao II by Don DeLillo

Colin Barrett

‘The ultimate goal of each act of art, each work of terror, is to demolish the old, incumbent reality, and create a new one.’

Best Book of 1996: The Lost Lunar Baedeker

Natalie Eilbert

‘Mina Loy has been a preferred voice in my head, echoing with a signature delirious chant as a kind of primordial poetry mother.’

Best Book of 2000: The Moral Obligation to be Intelligent

Will Boast

Will Boast on why Lionel Trilling’s The Moral Obligation to be Intelligent is the best book of 2000.

Best Book of 2006: The Re-Emergence of Global Finance

Oliver Bullough

Oliver Bullough on why Gary Burn's The Re-Emergence of Global Finance is the best book of 2006.

Best Book of 2008: The Alphabet

Rae Armantrout

Rae Armantrout on why Ron Silliman's The Alphabet is the best book of 2008.

Best Book of 2008: To the End of the Land, by David Grossman

Lily Dunn

‘David Grossman is a writer who speaks to the heart, and this is his masterpiece.’

Best Story of 1965: ‘Everything That Rises Must Converge’

Aimee Bender

Aimee Bender on why Flannery O’Connor's ‘Everything That Rises Must Converge’ is the best story of 1965.

Between Great Fires

William Atkins

‘This is the perennial anxiety – that at any moment, day or night, you might be snatched and shackled and tried and sent back.’

Black Country

Anthony Cartwright

‘There’s a sense, I think, that what that X in the box translates as is seventeen and a half million voices that say, we’re still here.’

Blind Spot

Teju Cole

‘I heard faint noises, the occasional car going down another street, a voice lightly thrown from its unseen body, the hum of distant machines, and the sound of my own breathing as I put one foot in. ’

Blood

Urvashi Butalia

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

Boys in Zinc

Svetlana Alexievich

‘I was trying to present a history of feelings, not the history of the war itself.’

Bread of Beirut

Annia Ciezadlo

‘Whenever there’s the threat of violence, people rush to the bakery for bread, of course, but also, I suspect, for reassurance.’

Breasts: A History

Krys Malcolm Belc

‘My breasts are shrinking. As my fat redistributes it settles in my belly and leaves my chest.’

Brexit Win

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

‘The poor hated the poor, natives hated outsiders, settled migrants hated new incomers, the North hated the South, non-Londoners hated London.’

Bucharest, Broken City

Philip Ó Ceallaigh

‘It is only consciousness and memory that hold together the things we sometimes see as solid.’

Buchenwald

Ian Buruma

‘Once upon a time, on top of a green hill, high above the red roofs of Weimar, there was an oak tree.’

But Why Write? The Writer-To-Be

Walter Abish

‘How to explain this resolve to write, this firm unwavering intent to become a writer on the part of someone who may not even really care for books?’

Cairo: September 2014

Wiam El-Tamami

‘Over the past few months, the government has been ad-libbing the time.’

Capital Gains

Rana Dasgupta

‘The society that has emerged in post-liberalization India is one consumed both by euphoria and dread.’