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West

Caryl Phillips

‘Curling herself into a tight fist against the cold, Martha huddled in the doorway and wondered if tonight she might see snow.‘

Coming Down

Ved Mehta

‘I was besieged by family memories.’

Jenni Fagan | My Writing Playlist

Jenni Fagan

Best of Young British Novelist Jenni Fagan selects five songs that she loves to write to.

The General

Isabel Hilton

‘The kitchen telephone would ring and it would be Gustavo Stroessner, the General's son, bellowing in that strange accent down a fuzzy line from Brazil, like an unruly fictional character nagging for a larger part in the plot.’

Letter from Wyoming

Brad Watson

‘Before I moved to Wyoming in 2005, I was – like a lot of people outside this region, it turns out – not quite sure just where it was.’

Delinquent in Derry

Nik Cohn

‘Across the river, in a Catholic enclave in the Waterside district, there was a disused funeral home in which, three nights a week, at 6d a shot, contraband teen movies could be sat through and sometimes seen, according to the state of the projector.’

Kashmir’s Forever War

Basharat Peer

‘Yes, the gun was from Pakistan, but the stones are our own. That is our only weapon against the occupation.’

LA Women

Douglas Brooker

‘I was bored. That was how it started. Anything I ever did that amounted to anything–or not–has always been the result of being sick of doing something else.’

Seven Days in Syria

Janine di Giovanni

‘I had come to Syria because I wanted to see a country before it tumbled down the rabbit hole of war’

Meat Country

J.M. Coetzee

‘It is eccentric not to eat meat in the United States, doubly so in Texas.’

Frank’s Place

Richard Williams

‘Marilyn Monroe spent a couple of nights at the Cal-Neva. Sinatra knew she was in a bad way.’

Bulletproof Vest

Maria Venegas

‘Maybe you should consider moving’

The Road to Abyei

John Ryle

‘Bor is a long way from Khartoum – more than 700 miles. There were other hostile groups on the way and precious little food.’

Cary Grant’s Suit

Todd McEwen

‘North by Northwest isn't a film about what happens to Cary Grant, it's about what happens to his suit.’

The Press Officer

Alvaro Vargas Llosa

‘The threat of Fujimori was well hidden. There was nothing we could do: the die was cast.’

The Magic Box

Olivia Laing

‘It never gets dark in Times Square. Sometimes I’d wake at two or three or four and watch waves of neon pass through my room.’ An essay on David Wojnarowicz's work, life and archives.

God and Me

Diana Athill

‘Perhaps it’s just that the human mind is incapable of imagining anything that doesn’t begin.’

Cinema’s Invisible Art

Jeremy Sheldon

‘Audiences don’t know somebody sits down and writes a picture.’

Eating the Eggs of Love

Salman Rushdie

‘Forested mesas flanked the road to Matagalpa; ahead, the multiform mountains, conical, twisted, sinuous, closed the horizon.’

The Error World

Simon Garfield

‘She said that the stamp gave her palpitations.’

People Don’t Get Depressed in Nigeria

Ike Anya

‘I open the newspaper and the word ‘Nigeria’ catches my eye.’

My Father’s Life

Leonard Michaels

‘Six days a week he rose early, dressed, ate breakfast alone, put on his hat, and walked to his barbershop at 207 Henry Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, about half a mile from our apartment.’

The Lord in his Wisdom

Jackie Kay

‘I realize with a fresh horror that Jonathan is seeing me as the sin’

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.’

Dogfight Over Karachi

Khademul Islam

‘I slowly went down the stairs, feeling my being unspooling.’

The Writing of ‘Or Shall We Die?’

Ian McEwan

‘There was too the challenge, as I saw it, of writing a singable English, simple and clear, that could express public themes without pomposity and private feelings without bathos.’

An Escape from Kampala

Wycliffe Kato

‘‘Be brave,’ she said, ‘pull yourself together. What you are about to see is worse than you ever imagined.’ She asked if I knew what Winston Churchill had called Uganda. He had called it the pearl of Africa.’

Medtner

Philip Pullman

‘It feels like being a child in a room where adults are having a deep and passionate conversation about important things’

An Education

Lynn Barber

‘The whole meeting seemed completely unreal but then everything at that time seemed unreal, so I said ‘Yes, by all means make the film,’ and went back to the hospital and forgot about her.’

The House by the Gallows

Intizar Hussain

‘Along with religion, an unthinking nationalism had become the other god of Pakistan.’

New New World

Peter Conrad

‘I left Australia at the age of twenty, carrying with me everything I thought I would need.’

Letters to My Father, Now Dead

Teresa Pàmies

‘I was glad to see General Pavel at your funeral, Father.’

Means of Transport

John Berger

‘Use these photos as means of transport. Ride on them. No passes needed. Go close. Imprudently close. They leave every minute.’

Going Abroad

W.G. Sebald

‘In Vienna I visited none of the sights and spoke not a word to a soul’.

Essex

Norman Lewis

‘Essex is the ugliest county. I only went there to be able to work in peace and quiet and get away from the settlers from London south of the river.’