Granta | The Magazine of New Writing

Explore essays and memoir


Closing Time

Jeremy Treglown

‘The effect is brutal and frightening, and rightly so.’

Co-operation for the Birds

Lewis Thomas

‘Somehow, despite the internal squabbles and constant competitions, the tree swallow societies manage to get by and survive, year after year.’

Cold Storage

Oliver Sacks

‘Uncle Toby was alive, but suspended, apparently, in some strange icy stupor.’


Guy Tillim

‘Visibility is everything.’


Helen Simpson

‘The thing about a circular walk is that you end up where you started.’

Cricket Fighting

Hugh Raffles

‘On the way to the cricket fight, Mr Wu slipped us a piece of paper.’


Jonathan Raban

‘It began as a vacuum in the atmosphere, far out over the Atlantic. Trying to fill itself, it set up a spinning mass of air, like a plughole sucking water from a bath; but the faster the winds blew, the more the vacuum deepened.’

David Searcy | First Sentence

David Searcy

‘When I was a kid, my family doctor, right through high school, was this wonderful, funny guy with a little Boston Blackie moustache who looked a lot like Burgess Meredith.’

David Sylvester | A London View

David Sylvester

‘When you turn your back on the view, you're face to face with the Western Pumping Station across the street and its campanile-like tower.’

Dead Faces

Rudolf Schäfer

‘These pictures show what will surely become of us all one day.’

Dear Old Dad

Paul Theroux

‘Playing a role gave him latitude and allowed him to overcome his reticence.’

Death of a Harvard Man

Simon Schama

‘The lettuce sat in its brown bag, wilting in the unseasonable warmth.’

Death of the Author

Lorna Sage

‘Her genius for estrangement came out of a thin-skinned extremity of response to the circumstances of her life and to the signs of the times.’

Deng’s Dogs

Santiago Roncagliolo

‘My earliest memory of Peru is a newspaper photograph from 1980 of dead dogs hanging from lamp posts in downtown Lima.’


Rory Stewart

‘For a Dervish, religion is all about some direct mystical experience of God’.

Detroit, 1966

Lynda Schuster

‘This is how it starts, my yearning to escape: with a snot-green triangular stamp from Qatar.’

Do Women Like to Cook?

Laura Shapiro

‘Until recently, the question 'Do women like to cook?' wouldn't have been asked and couldn't have been answered.’

Downton Delirium

Francine Prose

‘Anglophilia is constantly thrumming on, or just under, the surface of our culture.’

Dreams in a Time of War

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

‘I had not had lunch that day and my stomach had already forgotten the breakfast porridge gobbled before my six-mile run to Kĩnyogori Intermediate School.’

Dutch Harbor Nights

Jim Ruland

‘When one of the fishermen starts belting out ‘All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Out Tonight’, it feels like a prophecy come to life.’

Eating the Eggs of Love

Salman Rushdie

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

Election Night in Nicaragua

Sergio Ramirez

‘There was no room in our dreams for another war.’

Elias Canetti

Susan Sontag

ʻCanetti is the story of a liberation: a mind – a language – a tongue set free to roam the world.’

Emergency Room

Eugene Richards

‘I saw cuts, burns, broken limbs, heart attacks, and then, what's inside the human body.’


Deborah Scroggins

‘When I think of Nasir, I remember the sun. Nothing in that place escaped it.’

England, Whose England?

Darryl Pinckney

‘My Anglophilia was something like haemophilia - that is, I was easily bruised by facts so stayed away from them.’

English Hours: Nothing Personal

Paul Theroux

‘England does not have a climate; it has weather, seldom dramatic.’

Essex Clay

Peter Stothard

‘Essex clay could be like living flesh or a cold dead wall.’


Oliver Sacks

‘Deprived of continuity, of a quiet, continuous, inner narrative, he is driven to a sort of narrational frenzy: hence his ceaseless tales, his confabulations, his mythomania.’

False Blood

Will Self

‘The only real universals are that we all live – and, of course, we all must die.’

Family Politics

Vladimir Rybakov

‘To this day, I do not know where my mother and father are buried.’

Famous People

Orhan Pamuk

‘Life is dull if there's no story to listen to or nothing to watch’.

First Train Journey

Paul Theroux

‘I had been travelling for more than ten years – in Europe, Asia and Africa – and it had not occurred to me to write a travel book.‘

Fishing, Writing and Ted: An Appreciation

Graham Swift

‘Sometimes it haunts you like a knell, sometimes it's the motto for unimagined privilege.’