Explore essays and memoir
Language of Detective Fiction: Fiction of Detective Language
‘The criminal language of detective fiction is subject to the same liability to backfire as crime itself.’
‘My father used to tell the story of a tutor at his university, a Viennese professor of something or other.’
My Chess Teacher
‘The environment, however, wasn’t a hostile one. Though it was filled with the strangest guys in town, they were only there to play.’
Paris or Prague?
‘May in Paris was an explosion of revolutionary lyricism. The Prague Spring was the explosion of post-revolutionary scepticism.’
God and Me
‘My hopes weren’t high, even to begin with, so I felt no bitterness when He didn’t reveal Himself’
Letter from Gaza
‘It is difficult not to see the assassination of Ghassan Kanafani as an attempt to obliterate the Palestinian narrative.’
Murderer in the Family (Part Two)
‘It's not just their skins that are white; their minds are white, too. They are generic whites with western values.’
The Chelsea Affect
‘Despite parboiling myself in the shower a few times I began to like the hotel’.
Yiyun Li | First Sentence
‘But for her, and perhaps for many, the solidity of an invented life is not trustworthy.’
God and Me
‘At the moment, I would say that depends what you mean by ‘believe’ and what you mean by “God”’
Airports: Frontier Nations
‘1.In the waiting area of the Málaga airport for departing flights, a flock of birds nests on the beams. They fly back and forth across the high ceiling.’
‘We want to believe that we will die with dignity; that death is a confrontation and the battle is somewhat fair.’
‘Bradford, I felt, was a place I had to see for myself, because it seemed that so many important issues, of race, culture, nationalism, and education, were evident in an extremely concentrated way.’
Gandhi the Londoner
‘On 29 September 1888, an Indian teenager with a mild case of ringworm and a fine head of hair sailed into the Thames Estuary.’ Sam Miller on Ghandi's time in London.
Remembering Iain M Banks
Stuart Kelly remembers Iain Banks, and assesses the influence he's had on this generation of writers.
‘It was a clear, uncomplicated space, a brand image, a label that could be stuck on a billion sauce bottles.’
The Story of a Variation
‘I have often heard it said that the novel has already exhausted all its possibilities. I have the opposite impression: that in four hundred years of existence the novel has missed many of its opportunities: it has left many great opportunities unexploited, many roads forgotten, many calls unheard.’
‘My father has his own language for everything. When I finished my MFA, I was a NINJA: No Income, No Job, No Assets.’
Dreams for Hire
‘At nine o'clock in the morning, while we were having breakfast on the terrace of the Hotel Riviera in Havana, a terrifying wave appeared out of nowhere – the day was sunny and calm – and came crashing upon us.‘
The Weather in Mongolia
‘Back in Ulanbataar, we went to Narmandakh's flat on the fourth floor of a grey, Soviet-style block in a crowd of other Soviet-style blocks’.
The Ascent of Man
‘One June dusk in 1999 I found myself walking across a rice field near Fishing Pond, in east Trinidad, in the company of a game warden and a self-described naturalist-at-large sometimes known as the Turtle Man.’
Deeper into the Heart of Borneo (Part II)
‘James, resplendent in leopard skin and hornbill feathers, looked even more solemn than is his habit.’
Javier Montes on Emilio Fraia
‘Fraia sets himself the most difficult and respectable task a writer can face: unveiling the mystery without revealing the secret.’
Letter From Pondicherry, India
‘When I was growing up in Pondicherry, a former French colony on the south-east coast of India, I would go with my family each Sunday to the beach.‘
‘Mitchell's writing is a blueprint for a New York which was then disappearing and is now almost lost.’
‘Of course I wouldn’t. It would be politically incorrect, as is anything really personal.’
Do I Owe You Something?
‘In the fall of 1971, Rome enjoyed an unbroken skein of bright crisp mornings and balmy afternoons that stretched on into November’.
‘Rather than death itself, it is the disappearance of traces that seems unbearable and sad. The disappearance of all signs that I existed.’
Where is Thy Sting-a-Ling-a-Ling?
‘The fire department didn't have a tall enough ladder to reach his body.’
The Snow in Ghana
‘We always carry it to foreign countries, all over the world, our pride and our powerlessness.’