Explore essays and memoir
The Editor’s Chair: On Svetlana Alexievich
‘It is clear when reading Svetlana Alexievich that she has a deep empathy for the characters whose stories she tells.’
In the Valley of Coachella
Novelist Susan Straight and photographer Douglas McCulloh on the presidential streets of the ‘real’ Coachella
Pay for Your Words
Peter Pomerantsev downloads his Facebook data. ‘We seem to be caught in a trap: the more we use a word, the more we will be charged for it.’
'I didn't start out a writer, and had no plans of becoming one.' Tatyana Tolstaya, translated from the Russian by Anya Migdal
‘Europe awoke to a freezing post-war dawn. The winter of 1947 was the worst ever recorded.’
‘A man-eating tiger was on the prowl when I arrived in Pilibhit one rainy evening in September.’
The Trickster Creates the World
'A Q&A session exploring the writing process with novelist Eden Robinson, her muse Marvin and myself, Fictional Eden Robinson'
All the Devils Are Here
‘A seaside shelter in the middle of autumn – it seems a strange choice.’
Souvankham Thammavongsa | Notes on Craft
‘When I look at a word, I can see the thing inside it. The ear inside heart.’
Best Book of 1990: Anecdotes of Modern Art
‘If I tell you a book is an encyclopedic and fast-paced tour of the interrelationship of making art and being in pain, need I say more?’
Best book of 1936: Locos
Ingrid Persaud on why Felipe Alfau’s Locos is the best book of 1936.
Best Book of 1969: Pricksongs & Descants
Lisa Taddeo on why Robert Coover’s Pricksongs & Descants is the best book of 1969.
Mountains Don’t Know Borders
‘In the Balkans, the present is often perched precariously on top of the past.’
Letter to Razan Zaitouneh
PEN International’s Day of the Imprisoned Writer – we stand in solidarity with writers who have suffered persecution exercising their freedom of expression.
Ten Books that Changed the World
Martin Puchner on ten books that have changed the course of world history.
‘They joked about how tough they’d be by the time they got home.’
The Book Tree
‘I dreamed of dictionaries. I crammed myself with liquorice, honeymoons, caramels.’
L’Arbre aux livres
En ce temps si proche, Dieu était partout et personne ne pouvait l’assassiner.
Getting Away With It
A case of Russian espionage from Tim Phillips' book The Secret Twenties: British Intelligence, the Russians, and the Jazz Age.
Desire | State of Mind
‘My burgeoning sense of my own attractiveness, so fragile and recently developed, withered in this less than fertile ground.’
We are living through a period of pop-up populism, where each political movement redefines ‘the Many’ and ‘the People’, where we are always reconsidering who counts as an ‘insider’ or an ‘outsider’, where what it means to belong is never certain.
Nothing to be afraid of | State of Mind
‘Life in the first person is both magical and terrifying. But it is circumscribed.’ Anil K. Seth on the ties between our brains, bodies and consciousness.
‘What’s in a state of mind? How do we describe emotions, or the complex relationship between individuals and the state?’
Coming Home to the Counter-Revolution
‘My Cairo is an inverted city, one that wears its innards above the skin.’
Gay and Depressed | State of Mind
‘It would be a bit more tolerable if we lived in a society that didn’t blame depression on its victims.’
Brother | State of Mind
‘We don’t often talk seriously or in depth about our childhood these days, but we know we could, and we know what good it did us.’
Marcel Proust’s letters to his neighbour, translated from the French by Lydia Davis.
The Peripatetic Penelope Fitzgerald
Lucy Scholes on the highs, lows and package tours of Booker-prize-winning author Penelope Fitzgerald. ‘Fitzgerald’s life can only be attributed to the caprices of fate.’
Dead in Venice
‘If I wasn’t a fish spawned in the Brenta river, why was I so compelled to keep returning?’ Masahiko Shimada on his many trips to Venice.