The Quaking of the Aspen

'Desperate to get away from his now too voluble spouse, he hurried out to the moor with the aspen leaves crushed in his fist. To his surprise, the same green-gowned lady came riding by.'

Why the Ash Has Black Buds

'The trees have always had some idea of what happens to them when they die. In forests they saw their neighbours toppled by wind or age and rot into earth, and their roots sent up descriptions of peat and coal in vast beds and seams.'

Katherine Would Approve

'It was my first full-time job in a long while. The chairman of the Katherine Mansfield Birthplace Society and the four paid staff were there, all in winter coats.'

Virginia Woolf in the Bomb-scarred City

'This was her grandest bid to bring something back from the ruins. She was not reading despite the bombs; she was reading with them, and the two – reading and bombs – are jumbled together in one of her last letters.'

W.G. Sebald

'As a Suffolk man I have a special affection for The Rings of Saturn, although the Suffolk coast Sebald evokes is nothing like the Suffolk I know.'

A Translator’s View

'Revising those essays in translation I was on my own, and I kept weighing up every sentence, wondering what Max would have thought of this or that phrasing.'

Teaching by Example

'When I met Professor Sebald for our first tutorial, I was immediately struck by how different he was from the mostly aloof, self-important professors that I was used to at Munich University.'

Annie Hall

'I can’t help feeling like he’s dismantled the very admirable legacy of his earlier work by his later, overly prolific efforts. It’s a more benign version of Ralph Nader.'

‘If a little bird enters into a café…’

Cesar Aira explains why the sinuous thread running through his novels is more interesting, and more writable, than a linear plot.