The Rat Snipers
‘When they stand on their hind legs, arms up, wrists limp, rats can take on a beguiling sort of personhood.’
‘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.’
Cold Mountain: Premières esquisses
Ce qui s’est passé par la suite relève de la folie, folie des vents s’entredéchirant, folie de l’homme que ces vents avaient poussé chez moi.
What came after was the stuff of madness, the madness of warring winds, the madness of the man these winds had delivered up to me.
‘It is important to establish, before this begins, that I never thought of myself as an animal person.’
‘There was no inquiry and no report either because we all have new names now.’
The Fjord of Eternity
‘Insurance fraud of the sort Trisha investigated involved perps who were dentists with erectile malfunction, men who were scarfing anti-depressants and hit a wall.’
‘You can decide, whenever you like, that what you feel is no kind of love.’
‘People think they’re destroying, but it’s hard work, nearly impossible; building is easy, illusory but easy.’
The Alarming Palsy of James Orr
‘As it was, this gave the impression of two different faces, two different people, welded savagely together.’
White | State of Mind
‘I was told that she was a girl, with a face as white as a crescent-moon rice cake.’ New writing from Han Kang, translated from the Korean by Deborah Smith.
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.’
My Heart Hemmed In
‘I stagger from the shock. I feel the corners of my mouth turning down. My jaw begins to tremble. Yes, yes, yes, I say to myself, get ahold of yourself.’
‘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.