’On the day my career at Fireplace Mutual began, six of us recruits filed into the smoke-filled office of the Supervisor of Adjusters, Mr Kreisky.’
The Last Place on Earth
‘The living-room windows begin to reflect the lights on the plastic Christmas tree, and the view through those windows is fading, the woods growing thicker, the birches glowing in the dusk.’
‘Being able to read obituaries in advance gives a man an extraordinary sense of power.’
‘Estuary English, the tongue of the river mouth, open vowels, clipped syllables that nonetheless spilled into one: I found it hard to listen to. The words snapped at my ears: malicious fish.’
‘The lottery to choose her next husband was to take place at the Imperial Palace.’
In Goats’ Eyes is the Sky Blue?
‘The people locked up in Administrative Camp 16 weren’t allowed clocks. In fact there wasn’t a single clock to be found, even in communal areas.’
‘A few months later I was strapped up, M4 in condition 1, surrounded by 03s, backpack full of cash, twitchiest guy in Iraq.’
Don’t Forsake Me
'Bára went to the church on the advice of her friend Ivana. She had been suffering from occasional bouts of depression', Ivan Klíma in 'Don't Forsake Me' in Granta 59: France: The Outsider.
The Night of the Railwaymen’s Ball
‘The season of ballroom dancing was upon us and crime was on the increase. I have little interest in ballroom dancing – I don't dance.’
A Time for Everything
‘It can almost seem as if God was genuinely concerned about mankind.’ Translated by James Anderson.
‘What’s wrong is that she cannot breathe.’ Samsun Knight’s ‘The Dive’ is the winner of the 2018 Disquiet Literary Prize
The Sole Purveyor of Madame Bovary in Beijing circa 1989
‘In the day, his bevy of besotted rustics were coached in maxims of libertarian socialism. By night: rice wine orgies and folk punk sing-alongs.’
‘Selecting the right kind of a tomato was crucial for the scam to work.’
Brother in Ice
‘My brother is a man trapped in ice. He looks at us through it; he is there and he is not there.’
‘Breaking your family’s heart was the price you paid for rescuing your own.’
‘I wonder if the only way to grasp what is terrifying and unimaginable for those of us who haven’t experienced it is to feel around the contours of inescapability, the boundary of its negative space.’
‘My painter caught me in a moment that is somehow rare and yet not uncharacteristic.’
From the Left Bank of the Flu
‘The big road looked to me like a river, the cars rushing by as if carried along on its current.’
‘Hilary hadn’t wanted to acknowledge A: herself as dog-lady; B: any problems re wolves or whatever.’
Cow and Company
‘And now there were four of them stepping out to look for a cow.’ 2016 Commonwealth Short Story Prize overall winner.
‘I was overcome by a feeling that took root then and has never left me, the feeling that in this land that was someone else’s country, I did not have a place to stand.’
Soul and Body
‘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.’
‘If you think the living are difficult to deal with, the dead can be worse‘.
With Your Tongue Down My Throat
‘“Your father had a wife in India,” Ma says, wincing every time she says father.’
Something to Tell You
‘I’d have dumped her if it wouldn’t have caused more problems than it solved.’