"There is no centre anymore. We live in a multipolar world, and culture reflects that." Fatima Bhutto
Extracts
An unlikely avenger

An unlikely avenger

When you want to avoid gruesome images, you resort to euphemism. To say that an army has suffered great losses is more acceptable than describing the horror of an appalling hecatomb. Liberating oneself of someone’s presence generally means leaving him at the door, or avoiding spending time with him, but in a deeper sense it...
God's rib

God’s rib

When I think about my own death, the moment it happens is always the same. I’m wearing a plain, colored shirt and a matching pair of pants, cut from thin material that’s easy to pull on. It’s early in the morning and I am happy, I feel the same sense of contentment and satisfaction as...
Landing a whopper

Landing a whopper

I knew a young man once, he was a most conscientious fellow, and, when he took to fly-fishing, he determined never to exaggerate his hauls by more than twenty-five per cent. ‘When I have caught forty fish,’ said he, ‘then I will tell people that I have caught fifty, and so on. But I will...
Restless days and nights

Restless days and nights

Here we are in the big, barren guest room. Swarms of flies and bluebottles echo inside it, birds with long beaks like horns, the noise of their songs overlapping. Mum delicately stretching her ash-blonde hair on the bed. Her nightdress is a robe. Are we still going sailing? The build-up of rough stones in a...
Anti social

Anti social

Adam Leroux had managed to avoid most of social media. Facebook, the company that owned Instagram, had another social media platform which was also called Facebook. The company was named for the platform, which had started out as a student project at Harvard University. The Harvard version of Facebook, the ur-Facebook, had been designed to...
Next year will be even better

Next year will be even better

John was troubled by the fact that he could remember neither the precise day nor the particular circumstances under which he first set eyes upon her wispish, bustling figure. It did not matter how busy he had been. That encounter should have struck him with the force of a blinding light. He ought to have...
The incident

The incident

Over the long days she spent behind the counter, Nofar had developed a habit – she looked into the customers’ faces and tried to guess which of them had come into the ice-cream parlour by accident and which were there by design. The accidental visitors were nicer: people strolling leisurely down the street, sailing along...
The cow who wanted to be a dog

The cow who wanted to be a dog

It was the sugarcane harvest and the fields were burning. You could see flames all the way from here to the mountains. Ash floated around all day, sticking to your skin, your moustache, your eyelashes. We were all black with it. On the fifth day it rained. It doesn’t rain in December, but that year...
First date

First date

I met Finn outside the BFI. It was my idea to go there; if he turned out to be incredibly unattractive or boring, at least I’d have seen one more Derek Jarman film, which would give me something to talk to my dad about. I stood at the entrance, eavesdropping on a conversation between two...
First impressions

First impressions

Novels from Latvia, Uzbekistan and Poland competed for the 2019 EBRD Literature Prize, established by the London-based European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to celebrate the best fiction in translation from the 38 territories where the bank invests, from Morocco to Mongolia, Estonia to Egypt. The judges were journalist and founder-director of the European Literature Network...