"Our technology has outpaced us to the degree that human understanding is no longer at the centre of it." Olivia Sudjic
Short stories
Six by six

Six by six

The Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award shortlist has been announced, and we’re delighted to share an extract from each of the stories. The six selected authors – three women and three men from five countries and three continents – also reflect the award’s stated aim to celebrate the best emerging writers alongside established names....
Take it from cats

Take it from cats

If someone moves to make room for you, take up more room. If someone is looking over there, there’s something to see. If somebody sneezes, run. If someone brings a bag into your home, look inside it. If you don’t want someone to leave, sit on his suitcase. Clean between your toes. Flaunt your full...
A butterfly in January

A butterfly in January

Tilly and I stood on the corner together, kicking our feet and sending sprays of white into the air. “Has your dad gone to work?” she said. “No.” I did an especially big kick. “He’s gone to get provisions.” Tilly stopped kicking. “What are provisions?” “It’s what people call food when it snows,” I said....
Spats

Spats

The dogs are scratching at the kitchen door. How long, Lydia thinks, has she been lost in the thought of her rival dead? She passes her hand over her eyes, an unconscious effort to push the hot red edge off everything she sees, and goes to the door to let them in. When Ivan confessed...
The locusts

The locusts

In the village that follows a never-changing script, things are today exactly as they were yesterday, the day before, and last year. Over there, one of the villagers, dutifully executing his daily chores. He’s drawing water from the well using a bucket raised by a beast of burden. Now he’s tossing daily feed to his...
Suzie baby

Suzie baby

Murders: forty-seven. Kidnappings: fourteen. Attempted rapes: five. Car chases: fourteen. Hijacks: two. Helicopter jumps: one. Smuggling expeditions: countless. It’s not exactly Sir Laurence Olivier. But in summing up my film career, mendacity will serve no one. I have acted in eleven films, three of which were shelved: two for financial reasons, the third as a...
Sing for me

Sing for me

In those days the rumour started that there would be an inquiry. Full and frank disclosure, the government kept hinting. A tribunal of independent adjudicators and observers. Independent observers. They’d look into the events thoroughly. And into the sequence of events that led to them, into the decisions and actions that led to those particular...
Housewarming

Housewarming

His grin shows off his molars, and he grips you with a handshake that could hold up a bridge. He announces his name like he’s its proud parent, and then holds your gaze in a vice so that when you mumble your own name back to him, it sounds like ‘Uncle’. When you turn a...
Miracle at Hawk's Bay

Miracle at Hawk’s Bay

Matthew High. We knew it would be him. Even before Hannah turned him over, we just knew it. It was Annie who saw him from the road. “Look,” she said, and when she pointed at the dark shape out there in the shallow water, there was only one thought in all our heads – please...
Amerika's box

Amerika’s box

The decision to change their five-year-old daughter’s name was a bold one for Ahmed and Fatma to make. Kuwait was, after all, a country tangled in red tape. But like most of their fellow citizens in the year 1991, Ahmed and Fatma wanted to commemorate their nation’s gratitude to America. Fatma was in her late...