A Fine Balance

A Fine Balance

“Plastic hairband, unbreakable, plastic hairclip, flower shape, butterfly shape, colourful comb, unbreakable.” The combseller recited in a half-hearted monotone, uncertain whether this was a real customer or just a joker passing the time. “Big comb and small comb,...
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

From the Veranda of the Room of the Last Chrysanthemum at the Magistracy The Ninth Day of the Ninth Month Gulls wheel through spokes of sunlight over gracious roofs and dowdy thatch, snatching entrails at the marketplace and escaping over cloistered gardens,...
Flowers for Algernon

Flowers for Algernon

“I have a right to know everything that pertains to the experiment, and that includes my future.” “No reason why you shouldn’t know.” He paused and lit an already lit cigarette. “You understand, of course, that from the beginning we...
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

‘This is about’ – the Irishman balances his hat on his thigh – ‘what we’d call, at home, a “skeleton in the cupboard”.’ ‘On Walcheren we say, “a body in the vegetable patch”.’ ‘Monster turnips, then, on Walcheren. May I speak in English?’ ‘Do so. If I need your help,...
To A Mountain In Tibet

To A Mountain In Tibet

I am travelling with this mystique myself, I know. It has grown out of childhood, and adolescent reading. This looking-glass Tibet is a realm of ancient learning lost to the rest of the world, rules by a lineage of monks who are reincarnations of divinity. Recessed...