"There is no centre anymore. We live in a multipolar world, and culture reflects that." Fatima Bhutto
Short stories
Ah Fang's lamp

Ah Fang’s lamp

People often have grey days, just as there are sometimes grey skies. I walked down that wet little side street, and every single door was shut. Raindrops rapped on the concrete road, rat-a-tat-tat, spattering echoes in the empty street. Gazing at the leaden cloud, the monotonous sound of rain all around, an indescribable gloom welled...
The angel of conception

The angel of conception

Lailah the angel stands at the edge of the Garden of Eden, surveying. She sees apple trees, fig trees, grape vines, pumpkin patches, wheat, corn, and the plants we eat from. Birdsong fills the air. Furry animals scamper on the ground. A creek burbles and fish swim in the clear waters. In the center of...
Dorian Gray is having more fun than you

Dorian Gray is having more fun than you

You don’t know how you know Dorian Gray. When Dorian Gray first added you on Facebook, you two had sixteen mutual friends. You had been in New York six weeks, and you were always drunk. You figured you’d met Dorian Gray at one of your parties – your riotous parties, your all-night parties, your starlit...
The perils of Portland

The perils of Portland

Rain pelts the back of Harriet’s slicker like the palms of a thousand needy toddlers. Without relent it pours, so surprising in its force that its mammoth drops coalesce into one entity, one massive, sopping curtain coming down, trying its darnedest to prostrate her onto the soaked earth. After only five minutes of digging, her...
The painting

The painting

Lotta’s husband, Vik, was good at presents, and this year he had excelled himself. This year, he had commissioned a painting for his wife’s birthday. It would be a family portrait. Vik and Lotta both had curly hair – his dark, hers fair. Their children had curly hair too. They would make a wonderful composition,...
What she can do

What she can do

From where they stood, it was all her fault. She was entirely to blame. She’d left home, taking the child with her, and bringing her short-lived marriage to an end. In more ways than one, her other half wasn’t the paternal sort, the husbandly sort. In more ways than one, he wasn’t the child-support-paying sort...
The natural

The natural

When he heard that the great Maltese actress Marianne R. was coming to Glasgow to give a series of masterclasses, Willem applied immediately. He was invited to audition a few weeks later by letter and had to plead with his agency to move his cleaning shift at the university. After all the fuss and rehearsing...
Chinese Almanac

Chinese Almanac

My father lives by the Chinese Almanac (通勝) – it tells fortunes. Like when might be a good day to marry your lover or move house or landscape a garden. Me, I have no truck with that kind of hocus-pocus. Keep it simple. Two rules: you don’t turn down food; you stay the fuck out...
The short cut

The short cut

I look so much like her, it upsets them. They think they’re seeing her, seeing her returned, seeing her returning. They take me for a revenant. I’ve never returned, though; I haven’t seen my family since then. Since I can’t remember when. Actually I do know, since the death of our grandmother. They talk to...
American spirit

American spirit

A couple of months ago, I met up with my friend Dorothy. We’d been very close back when we worked at Friday’s together, she as a bartender and I as a waitress, but we hadn’t seen each other in a long time. Maybe three years, since just after her son was born and I quit....