EXTRACTS
Eshkol Nevo: Harassment
A former Israeli Intelligence Corps officer seeking a new civilian role is confronted by an incident from his past. From The Last Interview.

CONTEXTS
Before the beginning of years
Mika Provata-Carlone relishes the process of reading and thinking along with Nancy Worman’s lively and erudite Virginia Woolf’s Greek Tragedy.

POETRY
Interesting times
Three poems about 21st-century living by Selina Nwulu, Imtiaz Dharker and Jasmine Ann Cooray, from Neil Astley’s anthology Staying Human.

TOP TENS
Clare Whitfield: Complicated and conflicted
The author of People of Abandoned Character picks her top ten flawed protagonists, from Sarah Waters’ Sue Trinder to Shirley Jackson’s Merricat.

INFLUENCES
Shahnaz Ahsan: Lasting impressions
The author of Hashim & Family picks eight novels and story collections that have shaped her approach to reading and creating.

CONTEXTS
The duty of disobedience
Enduring calls to action from three new titles in the Penguin Great Ideas series from Emmeline Pankhurst, Hannah Arendt and Audre Lorde.

EXTRACTS
Antoine Laurain: Author’s lunch
The literary lunch may be a cherished social ritual, but is also a moment to demand payback on a promised manuscript. From The Readers’ Room.

A WRITER’S LIFE
Patrick Freyne: To do or not to do
The author of OK, Let’s Do Your Stupid Idea reflects on some significant life, career, reading and writing choices and influences.

CONTEXTS
Lotte Möller: Bees can teach us a great deal – but what?
How the Aristotelian notion that bees were ruled by a king was challenged towards the end of the Renaissance. From Bees and Their Keepers.

EXTRACTS
Maryem Alaoui: A proposition
Casablanca prostitute Jmiaa is surprised by an aspiring director seeking her help on a film project. From Straight from the Horse’s Mouth.

CONTEXTS/POETRY
Spreading their wings
Ana Sampson introduces poems from the anthology She Will Soar by Sophia Thakur, Moya Cannon, Selena Godden, Anne Brontê and Helen Cadbury.

INTERVIEWS
Ukamaka Olisakwe: Breaking free
The author of Ogadinma draws on the real-life experiences of Nigerian women in this shout-out for independence and self-determination.

TOP TENS
You and the story
Tyler Keevil picks his top ten novels and stories written in the second person, from Calvino to Coupland via a pair by Mohsin Hamid.

CONTEXTS
Amin Maalouf: Big brothers
How Orwell’s totalitarian nightmare has mutated into a rise in identity-related tensions and a dulling of critical faculties. From Adrift.

EXTRACTS
Tyler Keevil: An ending
A random encounter on a London bus after an uninspiring trip to the cinema has tragic consequences. From Your Still Beating Heart.

CONTEXTS
Predrag Matvejević: Bread and circuses
A snapshot of our most staple foodstuff and its lack through European history, literature and art. From Our Daily Bread.

EXTRACTS
Natasha Randall: The housewife and the convict
Jenny takes some me-time during husband Hank’s online yoga class, and ponders the ‘marshmallow numbness’ of her existence. From Love Orange.

POETRY
From Tiger Girl
Three poems from Pascale Petit’s new collection, linked by themes of endangered species and human impact on the natural world.

TOP TENS
The solace of the strange
Nydia Hetherington, author of A Girl Made of Air, presents her Top Ten tales of the uncanny, the dark, and the fabulous.

CONTEXTS/THEATRE
Survivor rage
Mark Reynolds relishes Ralph Fiennes’ consummate performance in David Hare’s ‘Covid Monologue’ Beat the Devil at the Bridge Theatre.

CONTEXTS
The Fiume Endeavour
Gideon Defoe examines the fleeting existence of the Impresa di Fiume, under the leadership of self-aggrandising poet Gabriele D’Annunzio. From An Atlas of Extinct Countries.

SHORT STORIES
Shaista Sadick: Boneland
A British housewife finds a sideline writing Islamic terror erotica for a shady US website. From the anthology A Match Made in Heaven.

TOP TENS
Misfiring love
Laura Southgate, whose debut novel The Boyfriend depicts an awkward intergenerational love affair, selects her favourite bad romances.

CONTEXTS
Crossroads to the past
Alberto Manguel introduces Ronald Wright’s classic travel journal Cut Stones and Crossroads: A Journey in the Two Worlds of Peru.

EXTRACTS
Worlds beyond
Electrifying excerpts from the new Penguin Classics Science Fiction series from James Tiptree Jr., Angélica Gorodischer and Andreas Echsbach.

EXTRACTS
Pilar Quintana: Nicolasito
Eight-year-old friends Damaris and Nicolasito explore a rocky headland at the water’s edge on Colombia’s Pacific coast. From The Bitch.

CONTEXTS
Truth in sculpture
Mika Provata-Carlone enjoys Loyd Grossman’s An Elephant in Rome, a glorious account of how Bernini and Alexander VII created the Eternal City.