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First Love

Gwendoline Riley

‘It must be a dreadful cross: this hot desire to join in with people who don’t want you.’

Fishes and Dragons

Undinė Radzevičiūtė

An excerpt from ‘Fishes and Dragons’ a Lithuanian literary chinoiserie that addresses the interpretation by a European of Qing dynasty culture and art.

Fishing with Wussy

Richard Russo

‘Until I was six I thought of my father the way I thought of ‘my heavenly father’, whose existence was a matter of record, but who was, practically speaking, absent and therefore irrelevant.’


Paulo Scott

‘Even in a year in which Brazilians are not that excited about the competition, once the ref whistles and the match kicks off, an entire nation is frozen, hypnotised before their television screens. It’s the great truce, the great anaesthetic.’

From The Diaries of Lenny Abramov

Gary Shteyngart

‘Today, I’ve made a major decision: I am never going to die.’


Harold Pinter

‘What I want to know is quite simple. Was she spanked?’

Goal 666

Stacey Richter

‘I began to feel almost ill with a kind of unpleasant pleasure, like being tickled.’

Granma’s Porch

Alexia Tolas

Alexia Tolas’ Granma’s Porch is the Caribbean regional winner of the 2019 Commonwealth Short Story Prize.


Jane Rogers

‘For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly grateful.’


Mahreen Sohail

‘The first person he tells is his girlfriend of one year. I’m going to donate my hair to my mother, he says, and is worried to see tears rise in her eyes.’

Hands Across the Water

Rachel Seiffert

‘Dark red hair. Wee skirt and trainers, bare arms. All those freckles.’

Heavy Weather

Helen Simpson

‘The baby was now three months old, and she had not had more than half an hour alone since his birth in February.’

Her Boy

Mika Taylor

‘She is the first dolphin mother, Peter her boy genius.’

Here We Go

David Peace

‘The finance officers read the answers in silence, then returned them to be burned.’