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Amateur Dramatics

Jonathan Lee

‘I heard the news from a nurse with a piece of tinsel tied around her waist: my father had become a hypochondriac.’

Crow Fair

Thomas McGuane

‘You’re in a different world when your own mother doesn’t recognize you, or thinks you’re the stranger who gave her a hickey.’

Late in Life

A.L. Kennedy

‘Eating figs is different for girls.’

Always the Same Snow and Always the Same Uncle

Herta Müller

‘Who knows: what I write I must eat, what I don’t write – eats me.’

From Dream to Dream

Yiyun Li

‘At what point had one’s life stopped belonging to one?’

After the War

Patrick French

‘My antipathy to military culture started early and it wasn't helped by living in a garrison town.’

A Letter From Wales

Cynan Jones

‘Believe me – it will be impossible for you not to wonder – when I vow I am entirely sane.’

The Captain

Rattawut Lapcharoensap

‘It didn’t look like any place that I might be from; it only looked like a place that I would forever be going to.’

Nuestra Señora de la Asunción

Lina Wolff

‘No one here is normal except you, and you’re not even from Spain.’

The Man at the River

Dave Eggers

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

Blood Money

Miroslav Penkov

‘At first the Gypsies didn’t know how to answer their cellphone.’

Vipers

Kamila Shamsie

‘Cover your nose and mouth, the order came, swift and useless; if they’d had their turbans they would have wound them around their faces but there were only the balaclavas.’

Glow

Ned Beauman

‘Growing up, you got so used to all your secrets being sad or shameful that you came to assume they were, like alkyl halides, intrinsically neurotoxic, and now he had learned for the first time that they weren’t.’

Anwar Gets Everything

Tahmima Anam

‘Two ways a man can go here, in the direction of God or the direction of believing there is nothing up there but a sun that will kill you whether you pray five times or not.’

Soon and in Our Days

Naomi Alderman

‘It is not often, even in Hendon, that one witnesses a miracle.’

Filsan

Nadifa Mohamed

‘Silence takes the place of all these words and her loneliness remains as dense and close as a shadow.’

Europa

David Szalay

‘What she was like ‘as a person’ he has no idea. ’

After the Hedland

Evie Wyld

‘I feel the pull of being alone, of answering to no one, the safety of being unknown and far away.’

Driver

Taiye Selasi

‘I am the full-time driver here. I am not going to kill my employers. I have read that drivers do that now.’

The End of Endings

Steven Hall

‘Entropy is what drives time forwards, and only forwards.’

A World Intact

Adam Foulds

‘His life, unexciting as it may have been so far, was still a detailed, complicated thing.’

You Don’t Have To Live Like This

Benjamin Markovits

‘It felt like everything that had happened to me in college, everything I had learned to be comfortable with, had produced this jerk standing naked in the water, splashing his best friend’s girlfriend in the chest.’

Tomorrow

Joanna Kavenna

‘She was living as herself, in herself, without ever thinking about what that meant.’

Just Right

Zadie Smith

‘There’s no romance in that child whatsoever. No clue of the magic of storytelling. I’ll bet you a dollar she wears a girdle already.’

The Reservation

Sarah Hall

‘He can dream of fields of unicorns or invest in the reanimation of sabretooth DNA, if the prognostication visits him.’

Interim Zone

Xiaolu Guo

‘His father had sent him into exile.’

Boy, Snow, Bird

Helen Oyeyemi

‘I didn’t enclose a note, though there were a few things I’d have liked to say. Restraint is classier.’