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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.’

The Boys of Karachay Lake

Angela Pelster

‘When the fish in Karachay Lake, south of the Ural Mountains, Russia, went blind, not everyone stopped eating them.’

Accident

Etgar Keret

’Thirty years I’m a cabbie,’ the small guy sitting behind the wheel tells me, ’thirty years and not one accident.’

Night

Alice Munro

‘The thought was there and hanging on to my mind. The thought that I could strangle my little sister, who was asleep in the bunk below me and whom I loved more than anybody in the world.’

The Bees that Disappeared

Keiichiro Hirano

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

In a Blue Time

Hanif Kureishi

‘When the phone rings, who do you most want it to be?’

The Bridge

David Mamet

‘Surely the world was going to end. And probably in fire - in nuclear destruction, by mistake, or at the hands of madmen.’

Lucky Pierre and the Coldwater Flat

Robert Coover

‘Projections run riot, mirrors tip and weave, there’s a blur of images like film jumping out of its sprockets.’

Come, Japanese!

Julie Otsuka

‘On the boat we each had to make choices.’

The First Winter of my Married Life

William Gass

‘Our ears were soon as sensitive as a skinless arm, and we spoke in whispers, registered the furtive drip of remote taps.’

Destiny

Tim Parks

‘Destiny: there are those who still believe this word has meaning’.

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.’

OIF

Phil Klay

‘A few months later I was strapped up, M4 in condition 1, surrounded by 03s, backpack full of cash, twitchiest guy in Iraq.’

Final Fantasy III

Tao Lin

‘On the F train to Manhattan I emailed a friend in the UK. I said I couldn’t write my essay about Japan.’

Blazing Sun

Tatiana Salem Levy

‘It’s never easy to trade one love for another.’

A Clean Marriage

Sayaka Murata

‘Frequency of sex since marriage: zero.’ Sayaka Murata on a sexless marriage and the ‘Clean Breeder’ technique for pleasureless reproduction.

Put Not Thy Trust In Chariots

Jonathan Tel

'David had nothing against Arabs personally.This despite the fact he was religious (he wore a blue-and-white kippa which had been knitted by his wife, Devorah, as an engagement present.'

The White Hole of Bombay

Nicholas Shakespeare

‘If you like people who hate each other, it’s paradise.’

What Were You Dreaming?

Nadine Gordimer

‘And I'm careful what I say, I tell them about the blacks, how too many people spoil it for us, they robbing and killing, you can't blame white people.’

Give it up for Billy

Edmund White

‘Were there moral cataracts that one could remove?’

Mr Bones

Paul Auster

‘Mr Bones knew that Willy wasn't long for this world’.

Hare in Love

Sam Coll

A wry, fanciful fable about how love can transform both nature and fate.

Mouth

Mario Vargas Llosa

‘I lost my left ear from a bite. . .Through the thin slit that remains I can hear the sounds of the world.’

The Colonel’s Son

Roberto Bolaño

‘Then Julie extracts her victim’s heart and eats it.’

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.’

Unguided Tour

Susan Sontag

‘The more that places, customs, the circumstances of adventures are changed, the more we see that we amidst them are unchanging.’

After That, We Are Ignorant

Bilal Tanweer

‘He used to see things in his dreams and made them his policies. Yup, Americans loved his dreams because he was screwing the Soviets and Comrades in them.’

America

Chinelo Okparanta

‘It is a reluctant kind of disregard that stems from a feeling of shame.’

Thank You for Having Me

Lorrie Moore

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

Procreate, Generate

Anthony Doerr

‘Nothingness is the rule. Life is the exception.’

In The Tunnel

John Wray

‘It was a question of not thinking about what you were doing.’

The Whale House

Sharon Millar

‘By morning the dreams are gone, flying through the tiny holes in the net in sudden starling movements.’

How He Came to be Nowhere

Jonathan Franzen

‘Andy said no, he wasn't arrogant about his victory.’

Some are Born to Sweet Delight

Nadine Gordimer

‘She stopped where she was; sourness was in her mouth and nose, oozing towards the foreign stranger, she mustn’t go a step nearer.’

The Moon and Back

Jessica Thummel

‘John Wayne Durler had always needed something to run from.’

On Monday Last Week

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

‘Kamara had always resented the glamour of half-castes.’