"In my experience of writing – and of life – the frenzy of dreams and that of form always go together." Iosi Havilio
Extracts
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...
The first killings

The first killings

Who now remembers the story of the Limehouse Golem, or cares to be reminded of the history of that mythical creature? ‘Golem’ is the medieval Jewish word for an artificial being, created by the magician or the rabbi; it literally means ‘thing without form’, and perhaps sprang from the same fears which surrounded the fifteenth-century...
The first bride

The first bride

They went crazy for weddings after the war. All weekend long, the shooting of impotent bullets into the air, the aggravating honking of horns and the incessant drone of the traditional Albanian music. As if they were so glad to be alive that they wanted everyone from Podujevo to Pristina to Tirana to know about...
Not selling anything

Not selling anything

“Hello, my name is Belle. I am calling on behalf of—” They hang up. “Hello, my name is Ariel. I am calling behalf of Krippler Incorporated, a market research institute. Today we are conducting—” “On behalf of wha’?” replies a woman with a heavy southern accent. “On behalf of Krippler Incorporated, a market research institute.”...
Doctor's orders

Doctor’s orders

A few days ago, I was fished out of the Seine just in the nick of time. Two feet from the bank, to be precise, but that’s more than far enough to sink into the mud and float to the surface a couple of weeks later, limp and soggy as the hunks of bread people...
Under the hammer

Under the hammer

It was late spring, and for several weeks I had been trying to make modest inroads into the living room. Bit by bit, over several years, my wife had succeeded in exiling my fabulous collections to one room of our apartment and now the ‘study’ was where all my treasures were stored. But I had...
Smitten

Smitten

The fishpond businessman of course owned his own fishpond, a place he often went to be alone. Whatever his reasons for going there, the pond – with its small bungalows and the gardens all around – struck Ajo Kawir as the perfect spot for an ambush. So he went there, but what he didn’t know...
A new day

A new day

The young woman runs burning along the side of the marketplace, down the High Street, away from the fountain. Away from the fountain and the cool, litter-strewn water. She is tall, long-legged. Her hair is ablaze and flames spit from an unravelling scarf towards the motley crowd of people who give chase. Someone is screaming,...
A song for the king

A song for the king

It was exactly as he’d always envisioned palaces to be. Supported by columns, paintings and statues in every room, animal skins draped over sofas, gold doorknockers, a ceiling too high to touch. And more than that, it was people. So many people, striding down corridors. This way and that, attending to affairs or looking to...
Reality check

Reality check

She registered his shadow, a passing cloud bringing inclement weather. “Clare?” She was not even sure she heard her name, but she watched his mouth form the shape. The stereo was turned up loud, his voice lost in drums and double bass. He ducked his face to hers, kissed her on the forehead, then crossed...