Explore essays and memoir
A Note on Shakespeare
‘Shakespeare writes of the open wound and, through him, we know it open and know it closed. We tell when it ceases to beat and tell it at its highest peak of fever‘, Harold Pinter in 'A Note on Shakespeare' in Granta 59: France: The Outsider.
A Summer’s Evening in Beijing
‘The air is light with the intoxicating fumes of impending martyrdom.’
The River Potudan
‘Grass had grown back on the trodden-down dirt tracks of the civil war, because the war had stopped.’
‘As a result of Vietnam, the Pentagon has grown extremely gun-shy. These days it is virtually pacifist: it buys a lot of weapons, but doesn't really like the idea of using them.’
‘This American says he’s heard of Cross but that he’s still just passing through.’ He laughed and formed the shape of a pistol with his right hand. ‘Well you heard that part, didn’t ya? That is one thing that will never change here.’
The White Bloc
‘This election made clear that white people in this country have begun to vote how Southern whites always have: as a bloc.’
Best Book of 1950: A Natural History of Trees by Donald Culross Peattie
‘Now more than ever environmentalists need to remember what it’s like to write for that real world.’
‘The brain is a bureaucratic organ with an almost neurotic determination to balance its books. To account to the department of logic for terror, it calls on the office of imagination to conjure up a worthy vision.’
‘I began working at the Mead Paper Company in Chillicothe, Ohio, in the summer of 1973.’
The Problem Outside
‘About 150,000 refugees, standing shoulder to shoulder on a mountain plateau the size of three football fields‘.
Peter Pomerantsev’s anti-travelogue on Putin’s Russia, Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible, has won the 2016 Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize.
Why We’re Post-Fact
‘We are living in a ‘post-fact’ or ‘post-truth’ world. Not merely a world where politicians and media lie – they have always lied – but one where they don’t care whether they tell the truth or not.’
The False Lords of Misrule
Peter Pomerantsev takes us on a tour of the lewd, crude language of modern politics – from Trump to Putin to Duterte, Milo Yianopoulos, Boris Johnson and more.
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.
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.’
‘In Indian media and advertising, young people are mainly being projected as vessels of breathless aspiration.’
The Cult of the Hindu Cowboy
‘The Hindu cowboy accords to the cow the holiest status in his imagination: of mother. It is his duty to protect her honour; it is his privilege to kill for her.’
The Man Who Lived
Snigdha Poonam on how WhatsApp is being used to encourage mob violence in India.
Rosalind Porter | What I’m Reading
‘Despite the difficulties booksellers have selling the stuff, the short story isn’t going to disappear anytime soon.’
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.’
‘I am the unlikely interlacing of two families who never thought their histories would braid together.’
After Silk Road
‘The Dark Web is a shadow internet, an unindexed, unseen and lawless corner of cyberspace.’
Best Book of 1947: Call Me Ishmael by Charles Olson
Chris Power on the Best Book of 1947: Call Me Ishmael by Charles Olson.
The Seventh Event
‘Think of mitosis as trillions of slightly near-sighted, plagiarizing students’
Best Book of 1970: Moominvalley in November
‘This is a book I always return to for its melancholy tone, warm humour and psychological insight.’
‘One day in January a tall thin man with long white hair came into our courtyard. He was draped in a green cloak, torn in various places.’
‘Thomas Wolfe's enormous body and low, grumbling voice made the cutlery look like trinkets in a brittle Lilliput.’
‘Feminism is as basic to my sense of self as the fact that I have brown eyes.’
‘Anglophilia is constantly thrumming on, or just under, the surface of our culture.’
Marcel Proust’s letters to his neighbour, translated from the French by Lydia Davis.
Ten Books that Changed the World
Martin Puchner on ten books that have changed the course of world history.
Murasaki’s Paper Trail
Martin Puchner on how Murasaki Shikibu, a lady-in-waiting at the Japanese court, manage to write the first great novel of world literature.