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The Seventh Man

Haruki Murakami

‘I looked up at the sky. A few grey cotton chunks of cloud hung there, motionless.’

Portia’s Choice

Lorna Gibb

‘There were rules to the game. I could not lose my virginity and I had to be careful not to let a boy go further than I wanted to.’

Light

Lesley Nneka Arimah

‘When Enebeli Okwara sent his girl out in the world, he did not know what the world did to daughters.’ 2015 Commonwealth Short Story Prize – regional winner for Africa.

Envy

Kathryn Chetkovich

‘Why does it hurt only to read good work by the living?’

Clara

Janice Galloway

‘She shifts, half in shadow. Whatever else, she's certainly a child. No one is with her.’

The Man at the River

Dave Eggers

‘All he wants is to be a man sitting on a riverbed.’

The Husband Stitch

Carmen Maria Machado

‘Of all the stories I know about mothers, this one is the most real.’

Jubilee

Carys Davies

‘His name was Arthur Pritt, he said, and he was sorry for the day.’

Jumping Monkey Hill

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

‘His accent was what the British called posh, the kind some rich Nigerians tried to mimic and ended up sounding unintentionally funny.’

Human Moments in World War III

Don DeLillo

‘Happiness is not a fact of this experience, at least not to the extent that one is bold enough to speak of it.’

Lessons

Justin Torres

‘We were six snatching hands, six stomping feet; we were brothers, boys, three little kings locked in a feud for more.’

About Her and the Memories That Belong to Her

Mieko Kawakami

‘If I were to forget, then it would be the same as it never having existed at all.’

Empire

Richard Ford

'Outside on the cold air, flames moved and divided and swarmed the sky. And Sims felt alone in a wide empire, removed and afloat, calmed, as if life was far away now, as if blackness was all around...'

The Buddhist

Alan Rossi

‘Loneliness is the extra, the part that’s unnecessary.’

Gift for a Sweetheart

Isabel Allende

‘Horacio Fortunato was forty-six when the languid Jewish woman who was to change his roguish ways and deflate his fanfaronade entered his life’.

Mungo Among the Moors

T. Coraghessan Boyle

‘At an age when most young Scotsmen were lifting skirts, ploughing furrows and spreading seed, Mungo Park was displaying his bare buttocks to al-haff Ali Ibn Fatoudi, Emir of Ludamar.’

Girl on Girl

Diane Cook

‘Marni on Mack. Mack in Marni. A little Mack and Marni. My head rushes. I want to watch, hear the sounds.’

The Instant of Passage

Mathias Énard

‘Praying for the unknown dead, for the vague remains of the existences of total strangers, was sadly abstract.’

Thailand

Haruki Murakami

‘Living and dying are, in a sense, things of equal value.’

Epithalamium

Greg Jackson

Hara had stumbled on a kind of play, as if they were sisters left alone by their parents for the first time to explore the different ways a day could be deconstructed.

Nothing Ever Happens Here

Ottessa Moshfegh

‘I was broke, and I was a nobody, but I was happy.’

Year of the Monkey

Fan Wu

‘I stood in front of the roller coaster, whose winding tracks looked like intestines in a demon's stomach.’

The Ambivalent

Paulo Scott

‘Someone once said to him: I never saw a campaign writer with such a vocation for destruction.’

A Lovely and Terrible Thing

Chris Womersley

‘For a moment I could not speak. I looked off into the bleak distance, then at this man, and there was something about the sad shake of his head and the way his hair flapped about on his scalp that filled me with unreasonable warmth.’

Hawk

Joy Williams

‘As regards to life it is much the best to think that the experiences we have are necessary for us.’

Dance Cadaverous

Uzodinma Iweala

‘It just seemed like the right thing to want, the right thing to do.’

The Last Thing We Need

Claire Vaye Watkins

‘I think there will be lightning tonight; the air has that feel.’

The Indian Uprising

Ann Beattie

‘Then winter ended and spring came, and I thought, even if I don’t believe there’s a poem in anything any more, maybe I’ll write a story.’

A Few Words on the Life Cycle of Frogs

Patricio Pron

‘I wasn’t going to abandon the dream of literature, I was going to keep dreaming.’

Self-Portrait

Martin Amis

‘You’ve got your catflap, I’ve got my guy.’

The Barn at The End of Our Term

Karen Russell

‘A number of the presidents are planning their escape for a day they are calling the Fourth of July.’

The Mast Year

Diane Cook

‘Sounds like a mast year . . . it’s a thing that happens to trees. But sometimes it happens to people too.’

The New World Order

Harold Pinter

‘He hasn’t got any idea at all of what we’re going to do to him.’

The Dune

Stephen King

‘Being able to read obituaries in advance gives a man an extraordinary sense of power.’

The Third Dumpster

Gish Jen

‘Finally, though, it couldn’t be helped; their parents came for a visit. They looked around stupefied.’