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Off the Road

Andrew Brown

‘She acted as if her own desires magnetized the world, and when you were close to her, she magnetized your moral compass too.’

Once Was Dark

Josh Weil

‘When he opened his eyes, she was looking out at the rooster, the sun-blasted concrete, the railing thinned to brittle by the brightness.’

Pig Skin

Andrés Felipe Solano

‘A perfect impostor.’

Pink

Tomoyuki Hoshino

‘Spinning makes all that is illusory fall away. The things that remain – those are the things that are real.’

Quarter Past Midnight

Marie-Helene Bertino

‘Flute-like, gauze-filled, late-afternoon sunshine. Rainbow bracelets on the carpet. They use their tongues to wet their lips. Girls.’

Relic Light

Eric Gamalinda

‘Unconfirmed stories that have been retold so often they acquire the polish of truth, like the rosary beads people here carry in their pockets and pull out whenever the need for reassurance arises.’

River So Close

Melinda Moustakis

‘She’s a good-for-nothing chummer. If she survives a week on the slime line without cutting off her thumb or slicing her wrist, she’s hired.’

Sand

John Biguenet

‘The catastrophe had not happened to all of us, we began to understand, but to each of us.’

Satanás

Olivia Clare

‘I dislike sleep, he told the girl, matches keep me awake.’

Self-Portrait

Martin Amis

‘You’ve got your catflap, I’ve got my guy.’

Small Differences

Catherine Lacey

‘Everyone should just sit very still until they reach the calmer waters of later-young-adulthood, that promised land of lowered expectations.’

Smartening Up

Aoko Matsuda

‘‘Let’s become monsters together,’ she said, looking straight into my eyes.’

Some Heat

Miranda July

‘No one knows why ripping up a name makes a person call – science can’t explain it. Erasing the name also works.’

Spelling Problem

Lydia Davis

‘A woman from Barnard College calls me and asks if I would please spell ‘hemorrhaging’ for her.’

Spider Lilies

Hiroko Oyamada

‘The breeze smelled of many things: autumn and earth, the green of the countryside, face powder and old age.’

Thank You for Having Me

Lorrie Moore

‘Every day there was something new to mourn and something old to celebrate.’

The Alphabet of Birds

S.J. Naudé

‘She is standing there, her body like a lamp, waiting for the glass to break.’

The Argentine Episcopate

Bernard Quiriny

‘I started working for the Bishop of San Julián in 1939, not long after the death of my husband.’

The Bees that Disappeared

Keiichiro Hirano

‘It was during this period that I got to know K, one of the local mailmen.’

The Blood Drip

Brian Evenson

‘They had stumbled upon a town and tried to approach it, but had been driven off with stones.’

The Chronicle of the Wrinkled-Face Sheikh

Salman Natour

‘No other inanimate object retains emotion as strongly as keys do. Fingerprints are engraved on them as if the laws of wear and tear do not apply.’

The Dogs

Yukiko Motoya

‘I once lived with a whole lot of dogs.’

The Family Friend

Julia Franck

‘We’ve got a lot of family friends but Thorsten has been coming round far too often recently and I wonder whether I shouldn’t tell her that sometime.’

The Ferryman Is Dead

Saša Stanišić

Here, more die than are born. There’s a refrigerator at the bottom of the lake. The ferryman is dead. No one is coming to take his place.

The Husband Stitch

Carmen Maria Machado

‘I have heard all of the stories about girls like me, and I am unafraid to make more of them.’

The Indian Uprising

Ann Beattie

‘Then winter ended and spring came, and I thought, even if I don’t believe there’s a poem in anything any more, maybe I’ll write a story.’

The Love Machine

Julia Elliott

‘Beatrice was my first love. The dark contours of her delicate skeleton, the glowing flesh made translucent by my X-ray gaze, drove me crazy.’

The Mast Year

Diane Cook

‘Sounds like a mast year . . . it’s a thing that happens to trees. But sometimes it happens to people too.’

Things Remembered and Things Forgotten

Kyoko Nakajima

It was something Takashi remembered but Masaru had forgotten.

Variations on a Theme by Mister Donut

David Mitchell

‘But what if he answers in Martian? I’ll die.’

Why I Can No Longer Look at a Picnic Blanket Without Laughing

Yukiko Motoya

‘But the customer had already been in the changing room for three hours.’

Zoraida

Tanya Rey

‘Desire was a slapping, bone-chilling wind the likes of which did not exist this close to the equator.’