"I didn't want people to read in the same way they might eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day, but because I wanted them to know the mind-expanding privilege of walking a mile in someone else's shoes." Cathy Rentzenbrink
Extracts
Opportunity

Opportunity

A proper job! At Waterstones! I’m thirty-one! Now I have a debit card and everything! But only just. On probation, I arrive three hours late after spending a night in a patch of nettles in Cannon Hill Park (Spiritus/Poles). After running a spike a long way into my flip-flopped big toe on the building site...
Escape

Escape

Teresa was, on the whole, a serious, earnest woman, with a slightly uneasy smile that barely lifted the corners of her mouth. Her black eyes always seemed to be trying to wrest a secret from the person they observed. She had a thick mane of hair with a streak of grey on the right temple....
Harassment

Harassment

It takes him a few seconds to recognize her. And even then, he isn’t sure she recognizes him. Whether she recognized him earlier from his name or only when he came into the room. Or maybe she’s embarrassed. You can’t tell anything from looking at her. She doesn’t blush. Doesn’t stammer. She continues asking him...
Author's lunch

Author’s lunch

Inviting an author to lunch is one of the publishing world’s great rituals. Authors receive an invitation four or five times a year. Since there are many authors in one publishing house, that means a lot of lunches. Editors feed their authors like fat misanthropic cats they’re hoping to butter up and make purr. The...
A proposition

A proposition

That’s when she arrives. A skinny stick slides her head through the curtain and opens it with a fluid movement. A skinny stick with long disheveled hair at the end. Hamid told me she was the neighbor’s niece but I hadn’t imagined she would be so young. She’s standing in front of the door and...
An ending

An ending

So, this is how your husband dies: not forty years from now, coughing, wilting, consumed from within by cancer, holding your hand, looking into your eyes, the irises reflecting a lifetime of companionship. Not twenty years from now, after the kids that you haven’t yet had grow up and leave home and no longer need...
The housewife and the convict

The housewife and the convict

Jenny stayed quiet on Saturday mornings during Hank’s online yoga class. ‘Welcome to your time,’ Leslie intoned. ‘Yes,’ said Jenny quietly, placing sound-cancelling headphones over her ears. The housevoice had informed her already that the quality of her sleep had been ‘poor’, that she had awoken twenty-six times during the night. She turned over and...
Worlds beyond

Worlds beyond

Penguin Classics Science Fiction has launched with ten titles in a stunning new series design, featuring essential works of space opera, dystopia, slipstream and satire from the great science fiction writers of the US, Russia, Argentina, Germany and beyond. Masters of the genre James Tiptree, Jr., Andreas Eschbach and Angélica Gorodischer are published alongside favourite classics from the likes...
Nicolasito

Nicolasito

Tío Eliécer had owned the bluff until the seventies, when he divided it into four lots and put them up for sale. He had raised Damaris, because the man who got her mother pregnant – a soldier doing his military service in the region – abandoned her when she got knocked up, and in order...
Kyuri

Kyuri

My mother calls me hyo-nyeo – filial daughter – and strokes my hair with so much love it breaks my heart. But sometimes, she has spells when she shakes with anger towards me. “There is no greater sorrow than not getting married!” she says. “The thought of you alone in life, no children, that is...