Explore essays and memoir
Raqqa Road: A Syrian Escape
‘The morning Helin walked out to die, she dressed carelessly in a loose T-shirt and jeans.’
Africa’s Future Has No Space for Stupid Black Men
‘The night was full of energy. The kind of energy that Africa needs to reinvent itself.’
The Decay of Politics
‘Britain has made the control of borders and the free movement of people its central obsession, its fundamental national anxiety.’ Philip Ó Ceallaigh on Brexit.
Before They Began to Shrink
‘The numbers killed at Aughrim that day will never be known.’
Mother and Father
‘Like most wars, this was a war of the young.’ Thomas Kilroy on his parents’ experience of the Anglo-Irish War and the Irish civil war.
‘Living in the only democratic country in the world with a constitutional ban on abortion, I felt an acute and visceral shame.’
Blue Hills and Chalk Bones
‘One day, something changes; a corporeal blip. For me, it happened in the months after turning thirteen: the synovial fluid in my left hip began to evaporate like rain.’
‘This American says he’s heard of Cross but that he’s still just passing through.’ He laughed and formed the shape of a pistol with his right hand. ‘Well you heard that part, didn’t ya? That is one thing that will never change here.’
First Sentence: Mary O’Donoghue
‘It’s the small stuff – and here I mean the odd particulate matter of daily life – that lets me access the sprawl of a place that wasn’t mine but has incrementally become so.’
On Shakespeare and the Quest for Belonging
‘We may not belong to Shakespeare, nor he to us, ever.’
Shakespeare for Children
‘I can’t think, my mother said as we sat down, why people think a play that’s all about unsanctioned sexual desire is suitable for little girls.’
‘It has been several weeks since I slept for more than an hour, and lately I’ve been feeling on the verge of cracking up.’
‘But Ireland is Ireland. It resists and relishes its own national images in equal measure.’
The Raingod’s Green, Dark as Passion
‘If cities are sexed, as Jan Morris believes, then Cork is a male place. Personified further, I would cast him as low-sized, disputatious and stoutly built, a hard-to-knock-over type.’
The Mask of Night
‘I puzzled over the language but disentangled its meaning slowly, carefully, eager to connect’ Lorna Gibb on Shakespeare’s Juliet.
Hell and Night
‘The implication of Iago’s silence is that there is no hope for his redemption’ Noelle Kocot-Tomblin on ‘Othello’.
On Sonnet 50
‘I love Shakespeare’s slow insistence, which mirrors the action within the poem: there is nothing but grief to reach.’ Paula Bohince on Shakespeare’s sonnet 50.
To Thine Own Self Be True
‘If Shakespeare’s characters stand for anything, it’s for a slipperiness of identity.’ David Flusfeder on a dog named Shakespeare.
On Shakespeare and Aemilia Lanyer
‘I gently propose that for the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death we stop reading Shakespeare and shift our attention to the poems of Aemilia Lanyer’. Sandra Simonds on Shakespeare and Aemilia Lanyer.
‘It is to Shakespeare’s pages I return whenever I feel I am sinking. There I can be sure to find a lifeline.’
‘Now we’ve fizzled into a ridiculous unsaid, a flaccid tale of love, or lack thereof, in the time of Ebola.’
Torn Silk and Garlands of Garlic
Teffi remembers the Armenian refugees in Novorossiisk during the Russian Revolution.
‘I don’t know how to think about this. How to stretch compassion for one person into a million.’ Wendell Steavenson on Europe’s migrant-refugee crisis.
First Sentence: Eliza Griswold
‘This, of course, was years before anyone knew or cared who Boko Haram was.’
‘This was the collective trauma of a community discovering, very abruptly, they’d have to uproot their lives.’ Tim Beckett on the ruins of Uranium City.
Violence in Blue
‘One-third of all Americans killed by strangers are killed by police.’
Five Things Right Now: Diane Cook
Diane Cook shares five things she’s reading, watching and thinking about right now.
The Fencing Master
David Treuer on learning to fence with Maître Michel Sebastiani and learning to write with Toni Morrison.
Introduction: No Man’s Land
‘We tangle and project, in exile; we make it up as we go along.’