"When I read Céline I thought, 'Wow, you can do this, you can do anything!' That was a turning point, because it showed me you just have to follow your heart." Antti Tuomainen
Extracts
Teenage heaven

Teenage heaven

In 2003, the big haze lingered. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome had broken out in Guangdong the year before and coughed and hacked its way around the region. People had died from it. Everyone was afraid of getting infected. Some wore stupid-looking hospital masks but Szu and I would rather have been caught dead than join...
A splendid shiny car

A splendid shiny car

The boy had to be silent again. Daddy said, with a frown as always: “Don’t talk so loudly.” “He can talk,” interjected his mother, “but you have to be quiet and don’t boom in your deep bass.” But what’s the use of talking alone, thought the boy, if Daddy isn’t allowed to answer and Mummy...
The Grand Casino Estoril

The Grand Casino Estoril

He opened his eyes to darkness. He was lying on his back among the crumpled sheets and crushed scattered pillows. He did not know whether it was the church bells that woke him up or the blackbird singing in the laurel bush under his window. He did not even know what time of day it...
Tough love

Tough love

Joe felt something behind him. It was the presence of life and the coming of violence, and that anticipation, that sensitivity, enabled him to turn in time and catch the blackjack on his shoulder, which was better than taking it on the back of his head. Also, it was his left shoulder and Joe was...
Who's there?

Who’s there?

In an instant, I became the woman they assumed I’d been all along: the wife who lied to protect her husband. I almost didn’t hear the knock on the front door. I had removed the brass knocker twelve days earlier, as if that would stop another reporter from showing up unannounced. Once I realized the...
Flickers of memory

Flickers of memory

Lately, the line between real life and movies has begun to blur. There are times when I’m pounced upon by a memory – the cracked rearview mirror of the first car I ever owned, say, or the ghostly dance of a curtain in front of an open window when I was small and impressionable and...
To watch over them

To watch over them

The baby is dead. It took only a few seconds. The doctor said he didn’t suffer. The broken body, surrounded by toys, was put inside a grey bag, which they zipped shut. The little girl was still alive when the ambulance arrived. She’d fought like a wild animal. They found signs of a struggle, bits...
Taking an interest in the meerschaum tram

Taking an interest in the meerschaum tram

Once, when Moomintroll was quite small, his father got a cold at the very hottest time of summer. Moominpappa refused to drink warm milk with onion juice and sugar, and he refused to go to bed. He sat in the garden hammock blowing his nose and saying his cigars had a horrible taste, and the...
It must be love

It must be love

I sat Yichun on a park bench while I hunkered down to crack the walnuts with a stone. Her face was the same color as the flowers nearby, and I went into a sort of trance as I bashed away. One must have had a mind of its own because, after I struck it, it...
The whiskered stranger

The whiskered stranger

I met the cat in a bar. And he wasn’t just any cat, the kind of cat that likes toy mice or climbing trees or feather dusters, not at all, but entirely different from any cat I’d ever met. I noticed the cat across the dance floor, somewhere between two bar counters and behind a...