Explore essays and memoir
1911, The Other Revolution
‘Anniversaries, of course, can be a two-edged sword: they invite historical reappraisal.’
‘What happened in 1979 has happened many times before and many times since, in places where people have set themselves free and believed with all their hearts that the freedom they had fought for was real and lasting, only to be recaptured.’
A Bar on North Avenue
‘We regulars knew each other. We dated each other. We slept with each other.’
A Bizarre Courtship
‘One morning, more golden than yellow, I went outside to our housefront and saw that the beggars had gone.‘
A Bosnian Alphabet
‘APOLOGY: A should be for Alphabet: the device I am resorting to in some desperation to structure my thoughts on this subject: my relations vis-à-vis two Yugoslavian wars.‘
A Brief History of a Musical Failure
‘At the end of the piece, there was silence, followed by a sudden thunder of feet and bows on the stands. A thrilling noise.’
A Childhood in Broadmoor Hospital
‘These were the friends of my early boyhood, men who twenty years earlier would still have been called 'criminal lunatics'‘.
A Cock Fight
‘And now, the night before the fight, with the moon high and nearing the full, came the final preparation: we were taking him to Auguste.’
‘I walk out of the theatre in a daze. I’ve glimpsed something. But a glimpse, as it turns out, is not enough.’
‘That night there were nine of us, all white, cooped up in a ramshackle office. The President's picture hung aslant on a bright blue wall and, beside it, were a broken guitar and a stuffed civet cat, nailed in mockery of the Crucifixion, with its tail and hindlegs together, and its forelegs splayed apart.’
A Dose of Winter Medicine
‘I looked at the carpet in her small living room. This is where she had fallen and lay for twenty-four hours before her younger sister, Auntie Tanya, had found her.’
A Dynasty of Album Cover Art
‘The music is as powerful as it gets and beneath his knife-edge, cutting sarcasm, Fela’s voice rages’
A Family in Nanjing
'The old people had prepared a banquet for me - an extravagant spread of cold meats and dumplings which we ate with the prestige television blaring, and nobody watching it.'
A Feudal Outpost in Mount Lebanon
‘Intelligent, unpredictable, occasionally ruthless, Jumblatt shows that he is still very much in the game’
A Fight in Bethnal Green
‘There was no sizing up, no graceful footwork, none of the rhetoric of the game: this was unmitigated invective.’
A Fish Out of Water
‘A democracy, I said, is driven by the electoral process, and in elections there are victories and defeats.’
A Gentle Madness
‘Pakistan is a nation of memory keepers. We feed our memories as if they are guests at tea, pay homage to them’
A Guide to the City of Beirut
‘In Beirut, a well reveals layer upon layer, generation after generation, of ruins.’
A Hand Made Art
‘This new kind of ‘planned’ best-seller invariably influences every other form of book production, most notably that of the book selling.’
A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me
‘It took longer and longer for the next one to come, and then there wasn’t a next one.’
‘She was fighting for breath, fighting to live, perhaps fighting not to leave us.’
A Job on the Line
‘The atmosphere in the house was thick with my father's depression.’
A Journey into Afghanistan
'We had been travelling for a week, and had reached the territory of the Hesb Nasr: a rival group of mujahedin who were notorious for ambushing travellers, stealing their weapons and skinning their victims.'
A Kidnapped West or Culture Bows Out
'But since Europe itself is in the process of losing its own cultural identity, it perceives in Central Europe nothing but a political regime; put another way, it sees in Central Europe only Eastern Europe.'
'I draw your attention to football. The practice of this game threatens the basis of our very way of life.'
A Letter to my Sons: War’s End
'No, it's not easier for you than it was for us: don't let them tell you otherwise'.