Always Another Country by Sisonke Msimang

36439654.jpg~ I’ve written this book because too few of us – women, refuges, South Africans, black people, queers – believe in our instincts enough to know that our hearts will be our saviours.~

~ Freedom will come…but in the meantime, there is life.~

~ Immigrant child knows that outside is on thing but home is another country.~

~It is years before I understand bell hooks’ ideas about radical love and discover Audre Lorde. The words of these particular black men – the way they express anger – is so seductive. I ignore the ways in which their blackness seems to have little space for my woman-ness. It takes time for me to discover it is possible ot embrace radicalism that looks and feels different from the radical ideas of women. And so it takes me longer than I would have liked to see that there are ways of being tough and angry and confrontational without being judgemental about the choices of others.~

~[My mother] looks for another job and in the interview the head of HR is surprised when she says in her soft and tired voice, ‘I left because my dignity is not for sale.’~

~It takes me twenty years to understand this: South Africa doesn’t need heroes; she needs the best type of friends – those that bear witness.~

~During that long and painful season of denial and paranoia, I begin to see that the pride of the ANC – the very thing that kept us strong in the long years before freedom – will be this country’s undoing.~

~I write because Africans and women and humans who have been considered less than others have always had stories and imaginations to take us out of the impossibility of the situations in which we have found ourselves stranded.~


Mine by Sally Partridge

37803054.jpg~There are a couple of red-winged starlings playing outside…I wonder if anyone else has noticed how starling are always in pairs…If only people were that loyal.

I can’t believe I’m reduced to watching birds with a better love life than mine.~

~Superheroes are the misunderstood losers too, until the world needs them. The difference is I wouldn’t consider helping any of these guys if they got into trouble. People suck. I’d rather fly off to another planet and leave them all behind.~

~I look at other girls my age and can’t really understand how they get to be so happy. It’s like there’s some karma scale where all the bad things in life only happen to me.~

~Chicks? You do know the difference between the females of your own species and livestock, right?~

~I’m not like other girls. I’m not all sweet and perfect. It’s just not me. I’m bad at it. And I’m into things I’m not supposed to like, like skating and geeky stuff.~

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

34728667.jpg~I teach you to be warriors in the garden so you will never be gardeners in the war.~

~You know how to win…Just make sure you know when to fight.~

~Safe ended a long time ago.~

~The girl I held…is nowhere to be seen.
In her place a monster rages.
It bares fangs of death.~

~You raised me to fight monsters…It took far too long to understand that the real monster was you.~

~We are all children of blood and bone.
All instruments of vengeance and virtue.~

May Sarton: A Biography by Margot Peters

589889~I write because I must. That’s the only way anyone’s going to become a published writer.~

~Perhaps the woman’s liberation movement will make it possible for others to be literary creators…We need to hear from women who are [wives and mothers]. And the first task is to make the kind of love women feel for each other clear. Because women have something to give each other which very rarely men can give. Not necessarily sexual, but a love and a trust. Feeling. Americans are terribly afraid of feelings…That’s why men hate women poets; women’s feelings make them squirm.~

~To me rest and poetry are the same thing, they merge into each other for it is poetry which taught me to rest.~

~May confused art with healing because writing poems kept her sane.~

~May could fictionalize herself readily as a male because society equated the qualities she saw in herself––energy, will, aggression, anger, and, above all, creativity–with maleness, a judgement most women still accepted.~

Book Zero: A Eulalie Park Mystery Prequel by Fiona Snyckers

DaP77sFXcAAn2YX.jpg~Everything was wrong. Everything looked wrong, sounded wrong, smelled wrong, and felt wrong.~

~How is it possible for me to love someone who isn’t here yet?~

~Did you chase after her and allow her companion to escape, or did you let her get away while you held on to her companion?~

~You don’t know the mountain. It’s treacherous…Hikers get lost up there every week and have to be rescued. Try not to be one of them.~

~You can’t make yourself the centre of the universe when things go wrong.~


Empty Monsters by Cat Hellisen

38710839.jpg~That was the thing with Lammers, they were so milky they soaked up all the things they felt and let it stain them.~

~It all seemed dreary, this back and forth over love. She liked a good fuck, and she knew men who’d oblige her when she’d the need, but she’d not allow distraction. It was, from what she could tell, a painful and idiotic occupation, love.~

~Here in the Central Sharif Station the low-Lammers and Hobs got the right to speak their piece, and then the right to shut up and accept whatever the sentence was.~

~What was there to a girl using a boy? It happened all the time the other way around. And we hate them for it.~

~Maybe we are not moths beating ourselves stupid in a jar at all, maybe we are birds. A scream of widders, foretellings and warnings.~



Kintu by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

34873208.jpg~Thief was the president who arrived two and a half decades ago waving “democracy” at them, who had recently laughed, “Did I actually say democracy? I was so naive then.”~

~Clever women did not declare their sons princes. Cleverer women watched the throne and alerted their sons when it was ripe for seizure.~

~Princesses are like wind-they blow this way and blow that way. You don’t want to blow with them.~

~A sexually satisfied woman is a good wife.~

~When a nation has plenty and peace reigns, foreigners start to flock in. And you know with foreigners: they bring their troubles with them.~

Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon

33229395.jpg~I wonder if I’ve already reached the end of the story.
I wonder if my forever is now.~

~I never used to be like this, and if you’re not in charge of the inside of your own head, what are you in charge of?~

~’You were a surprise,’ she told him, ‘A miracle.’
‘Like Jesus?’
‘No quite like Jesus,’ she said.~

~Sometimes, you feel a memory before you see it. Even though your eyes can’t quite find it, you can smell it and taste it, and hear it shouting to you from the back of your mind.~

~It was only in the muteness of his flat, where he wallpapered his evenings with tea and silence, and where the only song was the hum of a refrigerator, that Simon discovered just how loud the rest of the world could be.~

~I can’t find a memory I trust.~

~Because sometimes, you need to sing and dance. Even if you are eight-four. Even if your bones push into your flesh, and the slightest breeze could steal you away.~

The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin

34812995.jpg~It is one thing to feel temptation, and quite another to succumb to it.~

~I dare not look at bridges, for all my bridges are burnt.~

~Ciphering and logic feed from the same trough…It’s about the level of minutiae; if there is sufficient detail, then a pattern will emerge.~

~Time will not pause for our journey; we can but brace ourselves and make shift to begin it.~

~Danger is never overcome without danger.~

~Words hold no value in comparison with the potency of silence, and it lies over us like a poultice, trying to soothe, trying to heal.~

Book Bite for the Sunday Times:

Darwin Comes to Town by Menno Schilthuizen

38449460.jpg~The unwritten rule among biologists is that, when prompted, one should answer gruffly that cities are only necessary evils where a true biologist spends as little time as possible. The real world lies outside the urban realm, in forests, dales, and fields. Where the wild things are. … To my biologist’s eye, the inner city, for all its hustle and bustle and thoroughly unnatural appearance, becomes a constellation of miniature ecosystems.~

~As [the hunter] bagged his first birds, the other crows immediately became wary. ‘As soon as they see my car, I can already hear their alarm calls. Those birds are so damn clever.’ ~

~What the white-footed mice in New York City parks show, just like the bobcats around Los Angeles and the parakeets in Paris, is that urban environments are often so patchy that the gene pools of urban wildlife get split into a multitude of tiny slivers.~

~The urban catfish of Albi began doing something that no other catfish had ever been seen doing before: launching themselves out of the water, grabbing bathing pigeons by the feet, dragging them under water and swallowing them, metal-laden feathers and all. ~

~In Europe, 65 per cent of the human population is exposed to urban background noise louder than that of constant rainfall. And the animals in the city that try to make themselves heard, have to contend with all this as well. ~

Book Bite for the Sunday Times: