All posts tagged: Excerpt

Hunters’ Gate

By JONATHAN LEE

Image of the cover of The Great Mistake by Jonathan Lee.

Excerpted from THE GREAT MISTAKE ©2021 by Jonathan Lee, published by Alfred A. Knopf. (Pre-order here)

One night, out walking, unable to sleep, and more fatigued than usual by his endlessly unfolding apprenticeship, the eighteen-hour days, the bugs that puncture his skin every night, the lack of money for real milk or for visiting his favorite sister, Andrew saw a man in the street who was raising a gun and pointing it at what?

A young mastiff, thin and weary-looking, staggering for a place to sleep.

Hunters’ Gate
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LitFest 2021 Excerpt: Interior Chinatown

By CHARLES YU

Image of Charles Yu's book, Interior Chinatown.

Amherst College’s sixth annual literary festival will take place virtually this year, from Thursday, February 25 to Sunday, February 28. Among the guests are 2020 National Book Award fiction winner Charles Yu and longlist nominee Megha Majumdar. The Common is pleased to reprint a short excerpt from Yu’s novel Interior Chinatown here.

Join Megha Majumdar and Charles Yu in conversation with host Thirii Myo Kyaw Myint (visiting writer at Amherst College) on Friday, February 26 from 7 to 8pm. 

Register and see the full list of LitFest events here.


LitFest 2021 Excerpt: Interior Chinatown
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The Wall: A Short Story Excerpt

By MERON HADERO

Meron Hadero is a finalist for The Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing.

Original version published in McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern Issue 52, finalist for the 2019 Caine Prize for African Writing

 

When I met Herr Weill, I was a lanky 10-year-old, a fish out of water in –, Iowa, a small college town surrounded by fields in every direction. My family had moved to the US a few weeks earlier from Ethiopia via Berlin, so I knew no English, but was fluent in Amharic and German. I’d speak those sometimes to strangers or just mumble under my breath to say what was on my mind, never getting an answer until the day I met Herr Weill.

The Wall: A Short Story Excerpt
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Until the Deer Return

By ALISA KOYRAKH

Alisa Koyrakh is a finalist for The Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing.

 

On February third, 1966, a Soviet spacecraft reached the moon. Zhenya read about it on February fifth. The newspaper lay on the stool next to their bed for two days before she looked at it. The headline: The Moon Speaks Russian. 

Until the Deer Return
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The Weight of the Clearing

By JUSTIN HAYNES

Justin Haynes is a finalist for The Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing.

 

Zaboca Clearing’s zabocas were always ripe and ready, on season or off; we tried not to think about this as we added them to our stews and salads. We suspected a tortured past with the silk cotton tree, some twenty yards beyond the wooden picnic tables, that we know better than to mess with. But the oddest thing of all about Zaboca Clearing, beyond the perma-green grass and the silk cotton tree, or even what might be buried beneath, was the pervading smell of oranges that floated through the Clearing even though there’s no oranges planted anywhere near Zaboca Clearing. It confounded us, raised short hairs on our necks and goosefleshed forearms. Tingled the edges of our ears and moistened tear ducts. It itched our collarbones. All of us except Binary Clem, who could never smell the oranges because of the beating he’d once received for not paying off gambling debts that wrote off his senses of smell and taste and the ability to speak in anything other than ones and zeroes like a corrupted code-breaker, which we suspected was the final straw that chased off his wife Anisa, her no longer able to understand the sweet-nothings whispered into her ears. Binary Clem would watch us cover our noses with the tops of our t-shirts, tank tops and mesh shirts whenever the smell would overwhelm us and would ask, 1-0-0-1-1-0-0-1-1?

The Weight of the Clearing
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Counsel

By DAVID MOLONEY

Excerpted from BARKER HOUSE, the new book by David Moloney, out now from Bloomsbury.  

 

I work alone on the Restricted Unit in the Barker County Correctional Facility in New Hampshire. It’s a semicircular room, the curved wall lined with nine cells. Most of the day, the inmates press their faces to scuffed windows, silent. There are no bars. The architects went with rosewood steel doors. Rosewood: the color of merlot.

On Tuesday and Saturday mornings I supervise inmates while they shave in their cells. We don’t leave them alone with razors. I try to talk with them, like we’re just in a locker room, hanging out while one of us shaves. Some don’t talk. I imagine that, cutting their whiskers before a scratched plastic mirror, they think of the other mirrors they’ve shaved in front of, the rooms those mirrors were in, and maybe that keeps them silent.

Tuesday. Inmate Bigsby is shaving. He’s talkative. Not crazy crazy, but it’s always tough to tell.

“This scar, right here,” says Bigsby as a stroke down his cheek reveals a cambered wound, “was when I broke from the sheriffs.” The single blade on Bigsby’s flimsy disposable couldn’t shave a teenage girl’s happy trail, but the inmates make do and pull at their skin.

There is a common perception—you see it in movies—that inmates don’t want to talk about their crimes. But they do. They depend on their past, their scars, to prove they were something else. In what standing, that doesn’t matter.

Counsel
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The Return

By AVIYA KUSHER

The Grammar of God Cover

Here, deep in the thickness of northern Germany, dogs travel glamorously, in their own spacious compartments. Apart from the dogs, who are large and meticulously groomed, there are only a few passengers on the local train heading north from Hamburg. I see a man with black hair, carrying a leather folder bulging with carbon paper—a traveling salesman, perhaps. There are two old ladies in pastel cardigans, their cheeks wrinkled and stern, and three tanned backpackers, loudly sharing Muesli and what looks like bottled carrot juice. Other than that, there is just my blue-eyed mother, nervously staring out the sealed window.

The Return
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Al-Karadib, Chapter 11, Part II

By TURKI AL-HAMAD

 

This is Part II of a two-part series. To read Part I, and an introduction to the work by Pascal Menoret, please click here.

The Colonel’s words weighed on Hisham’s mind. He became confused and hesitant again. This Colonel… He either was sincere and didn’t want to hurt Hisham, or was an expert in psychology. Hisham didn’t know. Could it be possible that all the prisoners were wrong about the Colonel’s intentions? Or was Hisham the naïve one? The Colonel fell silent as ‘Awadh brought tea and coffee.  The Colonel lit another cigarette and took an audible slurp from the hot tea, followed by a sigh of pleasure.

Al-Karadib, Chapter 11, Part II
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Al-Karadib, Chapter 11, Part I

By TURKI AL-HAMAD

Introduction: On Karadib

Pascal Menoret

My first roommate in Riyadh was a French teacher who once tutored an ex-political prisoner. The man was a retired lawyer who had belonged to a Marxist-Leninist network in the sixties, and had been part of a coup attempt against King Faisal. He had been tipped off right before his arrest and had escaped to Paris, where he studied law before coming back to Riyadh much later. Others had less luck.Arrested on intelligence provided by U.S. agents to the Saudi secret police, many of them were tortured or summarily executed. Some were even flown above the Empty Quarter and thrown alive out of helicopters.

Al-Karadib, Chapter 11, Part I
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From “Mañana Means Heaven”

Excerpt from the forthcoming novel Mañana Means Heaven:

Manana Means Heaven Book Cover

Wednesday, October 22, 1947

The workers couldn’t stop talking about it. Especially that whole first day after it happened. According to the paper, a “wetback” was found strung up in a sycamore tree near Raisin City. From his neck dangled a cardboard sign:

PARASITE

The Fresno County Coroner confirmed that because nowhere on the body were there bruises or scrapes the only logical explanation was suicide. A common occurrence among braceros. Naturally. They missed their families back home. Depression was inevitable. Fear was constant. The food too bland. A bottle of whiskey was found half emptied nearby. And for Xixto María Martínez, all the signs were there. On this very day his contract was up. As for the brief poem found on his person, the paper offered no explanation, except to say: Mr. Martínez had a way with words. It was imminent now. Xixto dying the way he died was only a suggestion.

From “Mañana Means Heaven”
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