Granta 111: Going Back, ed John Freeman

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The Independent Culture

This superb collection of short stories, memoir, artwork and poetry, loosely connected to the theme of "going back", includes contributions by Seamus Heaney and Joseph O'Neill, letters by Iris Murdoch and a recollection of his uncle's farm by Mark Twain. About as eclectic as you can get, then – but that doesn't mean unfocused.

On the contrary, Janine di Giovanni's account of her return to Sarajevo after the war is one of the most harrowing, heartbreaking pieces of journalism you could read. Leila Aboulela's short story, "Missing Out", where nostalgia and newness collide, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's "Ceiling", a tale of marital disharmony, are both positively forensic in their detailing of human emotion. And this sharp focus also characterises my personal favourite, Elizabeth McCracken's "Property", in which a widower rents a dirty bungalow after the death of his wife.