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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.’

The Dune

Stephen King

‘Being able to read obituaries in advance gives a man an extraordinary sense of power.’

A Few Words on the Life Cycle of Frogs

Patricio Pron

‘I wasn’t going to abandon the dream of literature, I was going to keep dreaming.’

Numb

Lauren Schenkman

‘She felt things under the skin: scars where the body had torn during childbirth, clumps of cellulite, lobules and ducts.’

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.’

The Bees that Disappeared

Keiichiro Hirano

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

The Third Mate

Adam Johnson

‘Please translate that this man is about to get shot.’

Lucy the Liar

Patrick deWitt

‘Tell me it’s a lie, now. Will you say that it is?’

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.’

The Third Dumpster

Gish Jen

‘Finally, though, it couldn’t be helped; their parents came for a visit. They looked around stupefied.’

Dark Air

Lincoln Michel

‘There must have been a dozen ways for us to be crushed or torn apart.’

Extracts From The Journal Of Flying Officer J

William Boyd

‘The squadron left today for the city. The mess cold and sad, Verschoyle, with uncharacteristic generosity, said I could keep the monoplane.’

Diem Perdidi

Julie Otsuka

‘When you ask her your name, she does not remember what it is.’

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.’

In a Blue Time

Hanif Kureishi

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

The Captain

Rattawut Lapcharoensap

‘I was with Dora. We were in love. Things were cheap and plentiful and the money from the insurance was going to last us forever.’

Procreate, Generate

Anthony Doerr

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

Destiny

Tim Parks

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

The Whale House

Sharon Millar

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

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.’

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.’

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.’

To Rio de Janeiro

Gonçalo M. Tavares

‘In the end, what one understands in Rio de Janeiro is that joy is the only coherence of a living being.’

Agnes of Iowa

Lorrie Moore

‘Her mother had given her the name Agnes, believing that a good-looking woman was even more striking when her name was a homely one.’

Bad Seeds

Masatsugu Ono

‘Evil, she told herself. That was the name of the flower.’

To Zagreb

Yoko Tawada

‘You didn’t know where you wanted to end up, had never considered how much time you had left.’

Frogs

Mo Yan

‘Once the preposterous reality set in, we were overcome by sadness.’

Five Houses

Melanie McFadyean

‘I live here, we say, this is my house, my home. We settle, dwell, adorn. A house feels permanent. But this illusion of security can end in a minute.’

Item Girls

Kuzhali Manickavel

‘I have heard the item girls singing each to each. / I do not think they will sing to me.’

How He Came to be Nowhere

Jonathan Franzen

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

Come, Japanese!

Julie Otsuka

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

Highlights

Alan Hollinghurst

‘Surely we’re not going to Rome for discos.’

In The Tunnel

John Wray

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