"I’ve always written short stories, I’ve always been interested in the form being dictated by the concept, rather than the other way round." Jon McGregor
Extracts
Immortality

Immortality

The sentence he was writing as he hovered over his keyboard, staring at the screen, pursuing the pulsing vertical of the cursor as it left in its wake a new letter, then word, punctuation, space, till the final full-stop, gave Stephen Osmer such an access of pleasure that he died. He skipped off his seat...
The river of tears

The river of tears

The doors closed again. Matteo found himself looking over a huge open expanse. He was standing on a plain covered in black grass. It looked like those fields that Tuscan farmers burn in summer to fertilise them. Nothing else was growing as far as the eye could see except for that short grass, black and...
A selective objective

A selective objective

This year’s shortlist for the 2017 Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award – open to any novelist or short-story writer published in the UK, and at £30,000 the richest prize in the world for short fiction – includes three women and three men, four American writers, one British and one Irish author. The US writers...
Pioneers Awake!

Pioneers Awake!

The Director had been pulling strings to get his nephews Mfoumbou Ngoulmoumako, Bissoulou Ngoulmoumako and Dongo-Dongo Ngoulmoumako onto an ideological training course in Pointe-Noire so they could later become section leaders of the National Movement of Pioneers for our orphanage. They still remained under the control of their paternal uncle and particularly under that of...
For Hekate

For Hekate

She wakes to the sound of axes. All through the forest around her, sharp over the howling of the wind. The sunshunted by sea-blown spray. Hekate unceasing, and the wind still hot, with no cloud, air warped and darkened. Her grandfather struggling to rise higher. The Minyae building on the shore, wearing very little and...
Pennyfeather is sent down

Pennyfeather is sent down

Evelyn Waugh’s sparkling college satire Decline and Fall has been made into a three-part BBC One series starring Jack Whitehall, David Suchet and Eva Longoria, adapted by James Wood. As Penguin Classics publishes a special tie-in edition, we’re delighted to present an extract from the beginning of the book to remind readers why it’s remained...
Driving to distraction

Driving to distraction

Sonja is sitting in a car, and she’s brought her dictionary along. It’s heavy, and sits in the bag on the backseat. She’s halfway through her translation of Gösta Svensson’s latest crime novel, and the quality was already dipping with the previous one. Now’s the time I can afford it, she thought, and so she...
All the women I ever imagined

All the women I ever imagined

I had been in Germany for almost a year by now. One dark and rainy day in November – how clearly I remember it – I was skimming the newspaper when I noticed an article about an exhibition of new painters. In truth, I did not know what to make of this new generation. Perhaps...
Something burned here

Something burned here

The cabin was on a steep slope. It was as remote as it was old. An alpine hut from the eighteenth century. The bathroom had been added at a later date, but the living room was still heated by a wood-burning stove. The snow lay heavy on the pitched roof and on the railing at...
Time to go

Time to go

Clara, patron saint of television and eye disease, stood three feet tall in the church at the end of the road. The road was known generally as la calle, for it was the only one in the village, narrow, sprouting caminos and footpaths as it went. Scattered along it were one church, one store and...