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Five Cats and Three Women

J. Robert Lennon

‘While he didn't mind (not much anyway) being responsible for the death of one cat, his cat, he did not feel good shouldering the death of four cats.’

Kinder Than Solitude

Yiyun Li

‘Being let down was Celia’s fate; life never failed to bestow upon her pain and disappointment she had to suffer on everyone’s behalf, so that the world could go on being a good place, free from real calamities.’

Tombouctou

Jamal Mahjoub

‘After about three days in Djenné the lizards begin to talk.’

The War Artist

Margaret Luongo

‘On the third day, the little rosebud teacups rattled in their saucers as the war artist poured the coffee.’

Two Girls in a Boat

Emma Martin

‘This was a tiredness that caused Hannah to walk into a travel agent in Clapham High Street on a grey Tuesday morning and buy a ticket to New Zealand.’

The Moon and the Batteries

Hiromi Kawakami

‘His full name was Mr Harutsuna Matsumoto, but I called him ‘Sensei’. Not ‘Mr’ or ‘Sir’, just ‘Sensei’.’

Drinking Men

Todd McEwen

‘Consider a long and famous river; it teems with salmon and story, winds majestic through the most various of Scotland's shires.’

Happiness

Andrés Neuman

‘My name is Marcos. I’ve always wanted to be Cristóbal.’

Lover

Joyce Carol Oates

‘You won't know me, won't see my face. Unless you see my face. And then it will be too late.’

Trout Day By Pumpkin Light

Adam Mars-Jones

‘He is as old as sin, if sin is twenty-six.’

Blue Jay

Lillian Li

‘Like romantic love, you can’t ever replicate your first best-friendship.’

Lederhosen

Haruki Murakami

‘Please, I beg you. If I do not buy lederhosen now, I will never buy lederhosen.’

Breakfast

Toshiki Okada

‘If I had known she were heading for Tokyo then, and if I had known she thought of Tokyo as a city of zombies, I would have wanted to know, of course, whether she saw me that way, too.’

Soft Core

Joyce Carol Oates

‘They were two sisters of youthful middle age with three breasts between them and a history that might be summed up as much left unsaid. Maggie, the elder, who'd had a mastectomy eighteen months before, rarely alluded to the fact in her younger sister's company and spoke with an air of startled reproach if Esther brought up the subject of her health; as if Maggie's breast cancer were a symptom of a moral weakness, a deficiency of character, about which Esther had no right to know.’

Notes for a Young Gentleman

Toby Litt

‘A gentleman should greet with genuine warmth only the following persons – his sister’s daughters, his maternal aunts and his mortal enemies.’

The Judgement of Lut

Tim Lott

‘The point is, in the tower, on that night, certain gods revealed themselves to one another and came into conflict.‘

Every Move You Make

David Malouf

‘This is what sorrow is that knows no explanation or answer.’

Soul and Body

Milan Kundera

‘What was screaming in fact was the naive idealism of her love trying to banish all contradictions, banish the duality of the body and soul, banish perhaps even time.’

God Bless You, 2011

Hiromi Kawakami

‘If the god of uranium really exists, then what must he be thinking? Were this a fairy tale of old, what would happen when humans broke the laws of nature to turn gods into minions?’ Hiromi Kawakami on the nature gods of Japan.

Dunkirk

Ian McEwan

‘It was in his clear moments he was troubled’.

Drifting House

Krys Lee

‘Houses loomed like ghosts. The government’s face was everywhere: on the sides of a beached cart, above the lintel of the post office.’

From Dream to Dream

Yiyun Li

‘At what point had one’s life stopped belonging to one?’

The Great Wall

Ismail Kadaré

‘They've been making every imaginable special case for him for all eternity, they even sing hymns in his honour’.

Motorama 1954

Bill Morris

‘It was at sundown on New Year's Day 1954 that Claire Hathaway began to feel embarrassed by her new television set.’

Crossing Cut Creek | New Voices

Erin McMillan

‘Light rose over Mama’s tanned arms, Keller’s dirty hair. The air was thick with colour and swirling dust, and we were still, suspended in it.’

House Fire

Yiyun Li

‘The six friends declared war against love outside marriage.’

Whale

Panos Karnezis

‘Whale arrived at work a little after seven with black circles round his eyes’.

Reference Points

Philip Kerr

‘It was eating oysters, four hundred of the bivalve sons-of-bitches, that finally killed my father, in a theatre-bar off St Martin's Lane.‘

Things Remembered and Things Forgotten

Kyoko Nakajima

It was something Takashi remembered but Masaru had forgotten.

Harold

Bonnie Nadzam

‘A rustling, then a voice, came from behind the door – the voice of a man who couldn’t be much older than I. A cousin? A secret half-brother? ‘Bloodgood.’’

The Witch

Kseniya Melnik

‘They hide in the hollows of the heart, warming themselves in the downy scarf of the child’s soul, leaking poisons of old hurt.’

The Salt Wife

Ted Mooney

'Martha worked in a radio-biology lab in Manhattan, and when Larry, her husband of seven years, left her at last for the cause of art, she decided to accept a long-standing invitation from a lab in Los Angeles to visit their operation and talk about her work.'

Ecstasy

J. Robert Lennon

‘She lay there, her hand on her jeans in the place where she’d seen John’s head coming out of his mother.’

Bicycle Thieves

Blake Morrison

‘Late June, scorched grass and sprinklers, the sky as if scuffed and beaten. Too hot to work, too lazy to think.’

After Helena

Andrés Neuman

‘What can damage us more? The blunt honesty of hatred, or the thwarted objective of reconciliation?’

The Bonfire and the Chessboard

Matías Néspolo

‘I’m not a snob, it’s just that down here we take chess seriously.’