Elizabeth Kostova Foundation

RISE UP SINGING, An excerpt from a novel

You do get hot summers in Bolton and we had one that year, for weeks on end as I remember it, although it may just have been a fortnight or so. This was a Friday so we had double English that afternoon with Mr Howard. Lisa and Claire had both had a full tab, but Janey and I had just taken half each.

"Who or what do you think is causing the friction here between Jane and Elizabeth?" asked Mr Howard. His hair was aglow and the walls pulsed gently.

Mon, 06/01/2015 - 12:29

LITTLE ESCAPES, A short story

He is a completely normal guy. Every week, he reads his horoscope, but it's usually wrong. Most times it says that no major catastrophes, long journeys, love affairs or problems at work await him. In many respects he is completely normal. No nightmares plague him, his wife doesn't cheat on him, his kids are pretty good.

But as a matter of fact, magnetic storms and solar flares sometimes affect him.

Tue, 04/28/2015 - 11:25

THE KNIFE, An excerpt from the novel You Belong Here

Mum says I have the memory of an elephant. That Jay got the brains, Emily, the beauty, and me, I never forget.

I remember sixth grade: Blair Cavaney, year five toff kicking Johnny in the nuts, not once, but twice because he looked 'weird.' Walker and me, suspended for a week because we pushed him up against the dental shed. Told him that you never kick anyone in the nuts. That if he did it again, we'd kick his head in.

Tue, 03/24/2015 - 13:54

RAT, A short story

Jacques loved his home town. And why wouldn't he – Paris was the most beautiful city in the world. Everybody loved Paris, people came in throngs. Tourists prowled every nook and cranny. It had long ago become impossible to take a stroll around the Latin Quarter, by the Eiffel Tower, or down the small, picturesque streets of Le Marais. Not to mention Montmartre or the Champs-Élysées.

Thu, 02/19/2015 - 12:57


…It was an almost ordinary day. We gathered in the common room and discussed the spelling of the words cappuccino and espresso. According to a nice little old man in a checkered shirt and striped pants, I forgot his name, the spelling was "campuccino" because it originated from Campuccio, and "expresso" because it was brewed fast and they served it on express trains in the past. He was very convincing and it took them some time to change his mind. Then we passed a ball to each other and we had to be truthful. The five of us were very careful not to be.

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 11:15
Matthew Kneale.jpg


London-born Rome-residing Matthew Kneale has been a household name in literary circles since the success of his novel English Passengers, 2000. A story about a religious-scientific expedition that seeks The Garden of Eden in Tasmania, it is set against the background of the brutal destruction of the New World by British settlers and convicts.

Tue, 09/09/2014 - 17:41

ANNABEL, An excerpt

It is a kind of painting that rather changes in character, and takes on a richness the longer you look at it. Besides, you know, Gauguin likes them extraordinarily. He said to me among other things – "That...it's...the flower."
Vincent Van Gogh in a letter to Theo Van Gogh

Tue, 08/05/2014 - 13:28


She felt fresh. She even felt confident. She'd had a small energy bar. It was more like a small wafer actually, covered with a thick layer of chocolate. The chocolate was hard and when she took a bite it broke into pieces, scattering on the ground. Better off. Fewer calories, still enough energy. She had a cigarette, too. Smoking after having chocolate sucks. The taste is vile. She had a piece of gum to fix the taste, forgot about it and presented herself to the commission as she was, gum in mouth.

Fri, 05/09/2014 - 11:54


This story considers itself the story of everyone. I don't know if this is true. You will be the one to decide.

I myself am certain that all stories are love stories, so I have refrained from classifying it as such.

It is simply the story of women and men who are mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, loved ones and friends... or, in a nutshell, of people who are tigers and lions, oranges and lemons.

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 12:47


Naruhito works as an architect. He constructs earthquake-proof buildings. Drawing and drawing and drawing all day long. Sharpens his pencil and starts over again. When he gets home his supper usually consists of rice with vegetables. Or meat, only vegetables or only rice. In fact, he doesn't really care what he eats but what matters is when he goes to bed because Naruhito loves dreaming the most. Before he falls asleep Naruhito sticks his nose into a metal thermos labeled "Himalayan Oxygen".

Tue, 02/25/2014 - 11:59


Here it's the third week of the garbage strike and Athens has begun to smell. Bright-colored trash bags fill the curbs and alleyways, and we have learned to step over the rubbish and avoid the blocks that have become unnavigable. We know which stretches are particularly foul – a stretch along Mavili Square, or the entire top end of Monastiraki. Odos Athinas is a sea of trash, and Omonia is ghastly but we don't go there anyway. May has gone from unseasonably cool to raging hot, and the garbage is melting.

Wed, 11/27/2013 - 15:01

DREAMS, An excerpt

People still believe in the Devil and hope to see him in the whites of the convulsing epileptic's eyes. This time, though, something is not right. I don't know what, I just feel it. I get up. A plump man wearing glasses and a plaid jacket is helping me.

"Thanks," I say, "I'll be fine… It's just a regular seizure."

"No comprende," the man smiles.

A punk kid stands up and silently points at the plastic seat. His baby face is unusually kind.

Wed, 11/27/2013 - 14:54


I am one of the last ones. Everything has been wiped out. Only ignorance and oblivion remain. And green, so much green. Now that I've seen I know: the eyes of the Devil are green. I am one of the last lettered ones. And I don't have much time. I am a pagan because I worship the Lord. But a new era has come from the west. Whence the night comes. And where Evil feels at home. The conquerers came by sea. With black boats and smoking herbs. More fearsome than Muslims. Now in the churches, they dry herbs, grow mushrooms and breed bees.

Tue, 11/05/2013 - 14:26


I came downstairs in Ewan the Fatty's penthouse. No sound there. The Fatty had tiptoed out to his workshop. My ears were still ringing from my conversation with Graziella. It was as if I had been scalded by salt water, my teeth were numb and I felt hungover even though I hadn't had too much to drink. I wanted to make myself a cup of coffee and take advantage of my mate's crammed fridge, but that meant I would be late for work.

Mon, 08/05/2013 - 14:04