Best Book of 1949: The Thief’s Journal
‘To read it is to feel the alternative tempo in the rude repetitions of the thief who loves to steal.’
Best Book of 1953/1994: Trans-Atlantyk
‘The most Polish novel of the twentieth century was written in Argentina and published in France.’
Best Book of 1966: Season of Migration to the North
‘Of course, literature cannot be separated from its flesh of language and form. Nor can its tangible subject explain why it moves its reader, through the subtleties of language, or the shadowy geographies that it leaves to the imagination.’
Best Book of 1996: The Lost Lunar Baedeker
‘Mina Loy has been a preferred voice in my head, echoing with a signature delirious chant as a kind of primordial poetry mother.’
Best Book of 1999: Ai’s Vice
‘I love Ai’s work because it gives me permission and reminds me that poetry invented fiction. I needed that in 1999 and I need it today.’
Best Book of 2005: Zadie Smith’s On Beauty
Caoilinn Hughes on why Zadie Smith’s On Beauty is the best book of 2005
Best Book of 2009: William Vollmann’s Imperial
Sam Byers on why William Vollmann’s Imperial is the best book of 2009
Best Book of 2011: Kingdom Animalia
‘As the title suggests, this is a book about the family of animals, the family of man, and the family of family.’
Best Book of 2012: Unmastered: A Book on Desire, Most Difficult to Tell, by Katherine Angel
Rebecca Watson on the best book of 2012: Unmastered, by Katherine Angel.
Best Book of 2013: Tom Drury’s Pacific
‘There is a remarkable flow to the novel, like that aimless but essential drunken chatter after your third pint.’ John Patrick McHugh on why Tom Drury’s Pacific is the best book of 2013.
Biscotti Boys / On Men Who Wear Living as Loosely as Their Suits
‘salmaan the second son & his mama’s seventh seal by way of underwater & underemployment’
Bohemian Rhapsody in Five Acts
Tiffany Murray on living with Freddie Mercury as a child.
Breasts: A History
‘My breasts are shrinking. As my fat redistributes it settles in my belly and leaves my chest.’
‘These bored, frustrated and hungry animals appear as reluctant figures in some unsolvable puzzle, or as victims of a grand experiment whose original purpose is lost in time.’
Brother in Ice
‘My brother is a man trapped in ice. He looks at us through it; he is there and he is not there.’
‘All through winter and another summer we wait, but time passes more quickly now that we have a purpose. I feel it flowing.’
Carys Davies | Notes on Craft
‘All good stories are both resonant and concrete; they live in the mind of the reader and reverberate beyond the pages of the book.’
Cassiopeia (three back-to-front songs)
‘Anyway, I did not die. / I lined the sky, inside-out.’ Translated from the Georgian by Jean Sprackland and Natalia Bukia-Peters.
‘The message was cheerful, positive. I did not express weakness on my son’s behalf: this is a mother’s first rule.’
An excerpt from Matt Young's memoir Eat The Apple, which explores his three deployments to Iraq as a member of the US Marine Corps.
Climb the Mountains
'Harm that comes through the hands of those we love must be wrestled with; it does not simply disappear.'
‘Because I spent a large amount of time convincing people to buy clothing they would never actually wear, it was easy to convince myself the same.’
‘I’m nervous at night when I take off my leg. I wait until the last moment before sleep to un-tech because I am a woman who lives alone’
A young film composer turns to prostitution in a short story by Naben Ruthnum, set in a Rome of the early 1970s.
Cormac James | Notes on Craft
‘My most recent writing lesson came from Elizabeth Strout, a few months ago. Pay attention, is all she taught me, and it was plenty.’
‘One by one they’re led into the box. They swear their oath. They confirm their name, their employment, why they were where they say they were, what it was they saw.’
Cowboys and Angels
‘I had me a cowboy once on a hot steam Friday night.’ New fiction from Chelsea Bieker.
Cumbrian Fell Pony
Sarah Hall writes about the Cumbrian fell pony for Granta 142: Animalia.