As we enter the final days of 2019, here are our ten most popular non-fiction posts from the year:
Alison Smith shares what she learned from Ursula K. Le Guin:
1. Not everyone who thinks they’re better than you actually is.
2. Speaking your mind is better than hiding your mind.
3. Trying to be an author is a very bad idea.
‘Natural feet were considered manly, and so the natural state of the body became masculine; one had to sculpt, suffer, and reinvent to be read as female.’
Summer Brennan on high heels, foot-binding, and our ongoing performances of gender. An excerpt from her book High Heel, part of Bloomsbury’s Object Lessons series.
‘Which deaths are tragic and which are not? Who decides what is big and what is little?’
This memoir by Mary Gaitskill was included in our bumper spring issue, Granta 147: 40th-Birthday Special, which collected some of our favourite pieces from the past forty years. ‘Lost Cat’ was first published in 2009.
‘Despite the sheer and uncommunicable amount of violence enacted upon the female body throughout history, it’s woman as terroriser, as beast, that we keep coming back to.’
Hannah Williams on horror, hexes and harpies.
‘Many of the people I was living with considered me a white vampire, who killed to extract human fat.’
Jeremy Narby, who spent close to two years in Peru living with Ashaninca people, writes about a particular kind of resource extraction in the Amazon.
‘Touch had its own language, and the rules were the opposite of the ones I knew at home.’
From Granta 146: The Politics of Feeling, Poppy Sebag-Montefiore, former BBC correspondant in Beijing, writes on public touch in China.
‘I found myself immediately identifying with certain self-portraits, as if they were snapshots that mirrored (imaginary) self-portraits of my own.’
Sylvie Weil explains how she began writing literary selfies. Translated from the French by Ros Schwartz.
‘When English is the dominant everything, you can’t help wanting to fight for the little speck of the rest of your self.’
Rebecca Tamás on why the accent in her last name matters.
‘In politics people think they know what they want, and in psychoanalysis the assumption is that they don’t know.’
Psychotherapist and literary critic Adam Phillips in conversation with Devorah Baum, co-guest editor of Granta 146: The Politics of Feeling.
‘I am bleeding but I don’t know it yet, so the blood is silently leaking onto the white fabric like a poorly-kept secret, like proof that I will never be as clean as I pretend to be.’
Lucia Osborne-Crowley on the complexity of navigating sexuality while recovering from sexual abuse.