In the latest issue:

Botanic Macaroni

Steven Shapin

What made the Vikings tick?

Tom Shippey

In the Lab

Rupert Beale

Will there be a Brexit deal?

Anand Menon

Short Cuts: Under New Management

Rory Scothorne


Bridget Alsdorf

Sarah Moss

Blake Morrison

Poem: ‘Country Music’

Ange Mlinko

On the Trail of Garibaldi

Tim Parks

Art Lessons

Peter Campbell

You’ll like it when you get there

Tom Crewe

Early Kermode

Stefan Collini

‘The Vanishing Half’

Joanna Biggs

At the Movies: ‘The Truth’

Michael Wood

The Suitcase: Part Two

Frances Stonor Saunders

Poem: ‘Siri U’

Jorie Graham

Diary: Getting into Esports

John Lanchester


During my last reservist stint, in Ama Keng,
that unmistakeable waft: like garbage and onions
and liquid petroleum gas all mixed in one. We jerked
our helmeted heads upward, and saw the spiky bombs.
Durians. Two soldiers waded into the lallang and long
spiky-grassed undergrowth, sweeping for fallen fruit.
I remembered what my dad once told me,
that durian trees knew when you were underneath
and would not let their deadly payload drop.
They were smarter than we thought; those things could
kill. For when they had spent the years
building up to seed, they did not want to waste
their chance by murdering their postmen.
It spoke husks about why we were there,
stuck in sweatstink and number four fatigues,
when a drive by Dempsey Road could have reaped
D24 fruit from Selangor. I guess we take
what we can get. All the same, I couldn’t help
thinking of the Filipino legend, in which a hermit
made a fruit to help a king win over a princess,
then cursed it when the king neglected to invite him
to the wedding feast; and we’ve been eating it ever since.

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