I hate the man who stood back to back with me for the hour-long journey from Düsseldorf to Cologne. I didn’t see his face or his hands; I just felt his shoulder-blades and sometimes his elbows, when he explained something particularly keenly to his companion. He talked for the whole hour. His voice was quite impersonal–I would hardly recognize it again–and yet I hate him. I don’t wish him dead, but I would like to see him spend the next two hundred years listening only to his own voice, a gramophone recording of his own words, the ones he spoke from Dusseldorf to Cologne. First it was currency reform, and from there it was German efficiency, which has been suppressed because there was no currency reform. But it couldn’t be suppressed. No, nothing could suppress German efficiency and German workmanship. And German science and German soldiers. And the German armed forces and German confidence. And German toilet-seats. Nothing in the world could suppress all of that.
2023 Forward Prizes
‘I alone know a running stream
that is recovery partly and dim sweat
of a day-fever’
A poem by Rowan Evans.
‘Humour is a thread we hang onto. It punctures through the fog of guilt.’
Momtaza Mehri in conversation with Warsan Shire.
‘Something shifted in me that night. A small voice in my head said, maybe you can make a way for yourself as a poet here, too.’
Mary Jean Chan in conversation with Andrew McMillan.
Joy and Insecurity in Port-au-Prince
‘There was to be an exhibition. There were lots of pictures like his, apparently – of waiters, pastry cooks, valets, bellboys.’
An essay by Jason Allen-Paisant from Granta 159: What Do You See?
‘I have started to see that nothing is itself’
A poem by Jason Allen-Paisant from Granta 154: I’ve Been Away for a While.
Translated by Shaun Whiteside
Shaun Whiteside is a translator of French, Dutch, Italian and German literary works. He is the former Chair of the Translators Association of the Society of Authors and sits on the PEN Writers in Translation committee.More about the translator →