Explore essays and memoir
How I Write My Books
Anne Serre on how she writes. Translated from the French by Mark Hutchinson.
How to Write About Africa
‘Always end your book with Nelson Mandela saying something about rainbows or renaissances. Because you care.’
Ryszard Kapuściński, once the only foreign correspondent for the Polish Press Agency, on the concept of borders.
In Memory of Diana Athill
Granta remembers Diana Athill, celebrating her remarkable career as a writer and editor.
In Search of Beauty: Blackness as a Poem in Saudi Arabia
Sulaiman Addonia on the slow process of rediscovering the beauty of black skin after moving to Saudi Arabia as a child.
Karen Olsson | Notes on Craft
Karen Olsson shares her notes on the craft of writing: ‘Every book is an unsolvable problem, and yet every time I convince myself I’m just on the verge of cracking it.’
‘When I was seeing Kilty (how, even today, the word 'seeing' mesmerizes me), the fact of my blindness was never mentioned, referred to, or alluded to’.
‘I don’t see him staring back at me from the La-Z-Boy, I see me, I see a crystalline image of my own burned-out soul’
Lemons in Winter
‘I wonder why I am always the last to let go. I wonder if there is any amount that will ever be enough.’
‘Which deaths are tragic and which are not? Who decides what is big and what is little?’
Martin Goodman | Notes on Craft
Martin Goodman on why it took him twenty years to write his latest novel, J SS Bach.
Mother and Son:
Life and Fate
‘Nothing made her happier than to sacrifice herself for her son’s happiness.’
Night on Fire
‘I know what’s going to happen and I know that it’s going to be bizarre.’
Nina Leger | Notes on Craft
‘To say nothing about her was the only way to allow her to be everything.’
On High Heels and Lotus Feet
Summer Brennan on high heels, foot-binding, and our ongoing performances of gender.
On Meeting Mrs Obama
‘Michelle’s story, while deeply rooted in the American story, speaks to experiences that are universal.’
Pajtim Statovci | Notes on Craft
‘My childhood was pierced not only by the violence in Kosovo but also by the violence my immigrant family was confronted with in Finland.’
Populism and Humour
‘As reality has grown more absurd, the job of satirists has grown harder.’
Radicalisation in the Digital Age
Marc Weitzmann on how radicalisation happens in the digital age.
‘It was through my mother that I grew more aware of my body as incredibly fraught and problematic.‘
Stuck in Trees (with Apologies to Ian Frazier)
‘On 8 January 2018, I noticed a large bunch of purple balloons in a tree near my apartment building.’
‘It was a harsh and brutal puberty: the tiny creatures began to fret, as if an inner sense had forewarned them of the torment in store’
The Emperor of Ice Cream
‘Death is terrifying and impossibly big, but life is even bigger – vulgar, relentless, ruthless.’
The Fall of Saigon
‘I wanted to see a communist victory, which I presumed to be inevitable. I wanted to see the fall of a city.’
‘Strangely, it was Joseph Conrad who introduced me to Edward Said and not the other way around.’
The Imam and the Indian
‘We were both travelling, he and I: we were travelling in the West. The only difference was that I had actually been there, in person.’