Explore essays and memoir
‘Language is a risk that a nation takes. If a language survives, its people do too.’ Translated from the French by David Homel.
Plus tard, ils me diront comme tu étais un grand homme. Un savant. Un érudit de la chasse.
The File: Lost Then Found
‘Even for those of us who feel we have integrated our history, there can be fragments, like shrapnel, that push to the surface without warning.’
Language In Exile
One summer’s day, for the first time, Mitzi broached the past. Past in the present, so present, with everything it had deposited in this room that suddenly seemed so vast. Everything that the grim tide deposits on the shores of a life.
The Survivals of Lafcadio Hearn
‘Did Hearn feel comfortable in Japan because being a foreigner overshadowed his physical difference?’
Out of the Cell
‘I was inside a silence that was not an absence of noise so much as the living presence of everything I habitually walked – or sleep-walked – past.’
Water, Water, Everywhere
Darrell Hartman on water: from diving to climate change, hurricanes Irma and Harvey to the advent of ‘Blue Mind’.
‘The cortex shrinks where the cells used to be. The spaces in between expand. Islands in the sea of the mind. An archipelago of the former self.’ Sinéad Gleeson on Alzheimer's disease.
A Mingling | State of Mind
‘My empathy may become a vehicle of insight for me and therefore help me to help you or it may debilitate me altogether, make me so sad I am no good to you whatsoever.’
The Recall of Herman Harcourt
‘I had the queer feeling of looking into a mirror of the projected future, of perhaps seeing how easily his fall could be a rehearsal for my own.’
Monster | State of Mind
‘Today’s a day for you to feel blocked and impeded; a coward in work and love; resenting duty; suspecting pleasure.’
On Jesus’ Son
‘Jesus’ Son is a song, a glorious clear hymn, full of the notes of bad decisions, of rotten fucking luck, of causing real and lasting damage to yourself and to the people around you.’
All That Was Familiar
The story of two women fleeing Boko Haram in north-east Nigeria.
‘It was my child’s outlook to think most things were right. And yet if life’s eternal drama is of events seeking a more perfect state, their life and mine was not that.’
Vinyl Road Trip
After an unexpected email, David Flusfeder heads to Detroit to discover his father’s history and the world of vinyl manufacturing.
Lindsey Hilsum | Is Travel Writing Dead?
‘We need a new genre of travel writing, gleaned from the stories refugees and migrants.’
Well Done, No. 3777!
‘I grew up in the semi-tropical south, dotted by wet paddy fields, but I always wanted to go to the north.’
On the Road
‘But I still get homesick, that vast and deep pit in the stomach, every time I go away.’
Ian Jack | Is Travel Writing Dead?
‘Travel writing of most kinds, not just the humorous, has the history of colonialism perched on its shoulder.’
Pico Iyer | Is Travel Writing Dead?
‘The writer on place has to go further inward, into the realm of silence and nuance and personal enquiry.’
Mohsin Hamid | Is Travel Writing Dead?
‘I have come to believe that we are all migrants, that the experience of migration unites all human beings.’
Eliza Griswold | Is Travel Writing Dead?
‘Even in its subtler forms, the act of looking is an act of self-regard.’
Spiders from Jerusalem
‘When the Holy Family was fleeing from Jerusalem, spiders wove such a thick web around the road that the swords of Herod’s soldiers couldn’t pierce it.’
Best Book of 1766: Strange Tales From a Chinese Studio by Pu Songling
Dave Haysom on why Strange Tales From a Chinese Studio by Pu Songling is the best book of 1766.
Best Book of 1967: Ice by Anna Kavan
‘What a writer, and what a vision. What a perfect book to read in preparation for the end of the world.’
Best book of 1947: L’Écume des Jours by Boris Vian
‘In those spring nights, I sat by barbecue stalls in the streets of Beijing, reading this novel under dim streetlights while eating lamb skewers.’
Words and the Word
Miranda France on how C.S. Lewis and T.S. Eliot redrafted the Anglican Book of Common Prayer.
Best Book of 1993: Written on the Body
‘Influences imprint themselves on our consciousness as light does a photograph, or trauma the psyche’
The Binoculars of Jah
‘No matter how I attempted to interpret the email, it could only be read in one way: I was out of the Bunny Wailer club. Jah Bunny had put a curse on me.’
The Sufferings of this Present Time Are Not Worthy to Be Compared With the Glory Which Shall Be Revealed in Us
‘Every sect needs jargon. We did not have churches, we had halls; services were called meetings; the congregation was the assembly; elders were overseers’
Teaching After Trump
‘In a country whose government we do not trust, who do we need more than writers and teachers? And what is more powerful than an inspired youth?’