‘One piece of luck: I didn’t explain to the pianist how to play the piano.’ Translated from the French by Sophie Lewis.
The Death of Margaret Roe
The 2017 Commonwealth Short Story Prize winner from the Pacific. ‘Every person has their own secrets, but Margaret Roe had Havilah Brown’s.’
‘Daddy always said our apples were blessed because the order lived beside us. He liked to gift crates of Egremont Russets, the sweetest of all his fruit, to the sisters.’
‘Her husband who is going to betray her is standing inside the city of Roma.’ Dreams of infidelity from Deborah Levy.
‘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.’
‘And each time I hit the tarmac I had this terrible feeling that the trip I’d just taken had never even happened, that I’d spent hundreds for a memory I could barely recall.’
‘Things he dreamt began to show up in the bushes, the plastic figurine from a parachute firework, the small dull rusted circular saw blade he thought of as a throwing star, and he pocketed those things.’
‘Long before terrorism became fashionable in the West and commonplace in the East, there was a bombing at the Sovereign Center in Delhi.’
‘Frank Laganà stood on the cliff suited in black, as straight as an exclamation point, poised to leap to his death once again.’
This Is Our Descent
‘When it came to our son, her defensive instincts were well-developed and all the more necessary because it was hard from the outside to see why we were so protective.’
‘I stay mostly in my bedroom chambers, examining what has found its way into my pores or the mucoid crook of my eye.’
All the Caged Things
‘All that thought of home gave the girl a sickly feeling, the longing of something so out of reach, something she wasn’t even sure she could any longer truly remember.’
The Unmailed Letter
‘I was already suspicious of you before you were even born. You were Mama’s then, eating her up from the inside like a little cancer. She became yellow. She lost chunkfuls of hair.’
‘Breaking your family’s heart was the price you paid for rescuing your own.’
Chanel Nº 5
‘The liquid tingled, a subtle electrification, as the scent changed, bloomed, became an extension of the boy himself.’
‘Malachi is brushing her hair, long, dark brown and with russet glints. She likes it, as he can tell from her smile in the mirror.’
A story of ageing infidelity: ‘He would seek to remember and she would seek to remember – each succeeding a little differently from the other.’
Three Friends in a Hammock
‘I could not decide if love was real as a thing or something that could never entirely be proven, like God’
‘There is foam on the sea of our blood. It is the foam of history. We are the survivors, we say.’
‘Can bad mothers be taught to be good? Or maybe, can we be incentivized to bond? To love?’
In the not-so-distant future, middle-class underachievers are faced with a difficult choice: prison or motivational business classes.
‘When I picture my childhood, it’s like I’m swimming underwater.’ Merethe Lindstrøm’s story is translated from the Norwegian by Marta Eidsvåg, and is the winner of Harvill Secker’s Young Translators’ Prize 2016.
The Weak Spot
‘There was a certain kind of teenage girl who would relish not just the killing, but the trophy taking, choosing a tooth and using the pliers herself.’
‘She’d gotten so used to her loneliness, she didn’t want to fall from it now.’
things that didn’t happen
‘Suddenly, your heart began; suddenly in the darkness of your mother’s womb there was a crackle and a flash and out of nothing, the current began to run.’
Eat You Up
‘Wasn’t it possible the mental shit would leave the kid’s brain, cell by cell, just by doing normal stuff?’
‘His aberrations are formless; he imagines his insanity as a sort of gaseous molecule, looking to react with bugs and glitches.’
‘The pigeon and I have a very warm and comfortable relationship.’ 2016 Commonwealth Short Story Prize – regional winner for Africa.
‘That icy fear of the morning after slithered back: why does summer always feel like it belongs to someone else?’
Our Private Estate
‘Dozens of votive candles held aloft by mourners in white suits in procession. So much white, as if death could be engulfed in it, as if death itself was not an all-engulfing whiteness.’
Cow and Company
‘And now there were four of them stepping out to look for a cow.’ 2016 Commonwealth Short Story Prize overall winner.
Mayo Oh Mayo
‘Tonight there is a moon-rind, a nicotined fingernail, hanging low over the lake; above it, a Swarovski sparkler of a star.’