‘He had bought the card off a rack at the hardware store where he had bought Akash’s swimming pool. The picture was a view of ferries on Elliott Bay, a sight he had not seen. In Europe he was always careful to buy postcards only of places he’d been to, feeling dishonest otherwise.’

– Jhumpa Lahiri, Unaccustomed Earth

‘Yet her novel was no tortured, obviously autobiographical affair. It was simply a tale of adventure, of a girl on an island who learns to make do. The narrative shimmered with hope, and although it was for the most part rather spare, it paused often to delight in the little details: in the texture of the skin of a piece of fallen fruit, for example, or in the swaying antennae of crayfish in a stream.’

– Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist

‘We reached the water; it was warm and perfectly clear, round pebbles and the flash of little fish visible below the surface. We slipped inside, she swam out into the bay with powerful strokes, and then she trod water until I had caught up with her. For a time we were both silent and I felt our slippery legs graze each other as we churned the sea.’

– Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist 

‘We rented motor scooters and purchased straw mats to spread on beaches of black volcanic sand, which the sun had made too hot for bare skin; we stayed in the rooms of quaint houses let out in the summertime by elderly couples to tourists; we ate grilled octopus and drank sparkling water and red wine. I had not before this been to Europe or even swum in the sea – Lahore is, as you know, a ninety-minute journey by air from the coast – and so I gave in to the pleasures of being among this wealthy young fellowship.’

– Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist

‘While the astronauts, heroes forever, spent mere hours on the moon, I have remained in this new world for nearly thirty years. I know that my achievement is quite ordinary. I am not the only man to seek his fortune far from home, and certainly I am not the first. Still, there are times I am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept. As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination.’

– Jhumpa Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies

‘I would not have known that St Cecilia had ever existed if we had not come to Italy.’

‘Yes, there’s that.’ He smiled, and held the cup out, raising it to her lips. But nothing was drunk from it.

‘I would not have stood before Piero Della Francesca’s Risen Christ.’ Her voice had weakened to a whisper that was scarcely audible. ‘Or Fra Angelico’s Annunciations. Or Carpaccio’s terrified monks.’

The Captain, who often didn’t remember what was so easily remembered by his wife, held her hand by the bedside and sat with her a while longer. They were the marvels of her life, she said after a moment, and slept then, suddenly falling into a doze.

– William Trevor, The Story of Lucy Gault

‘It is only thirty miles to Messina, but the train takes two hours. It winds and hurries and stops beside the lavender grey morning sea.’

– D. H. Lawrence, Sea and Sardinia

‘It is a strange reflection that by travelling two days and nights you are in the heart of Italy… And there is a lonely hilltop where no one ever comes, and yet it is seen by me who was lately driving down Piccadilly on an omnibus. And what I should like would be to get out among the fields, sit down and hear the grasshoppers, and take up a handful of earth – Italian earth, as this is Italian dust upon my shoes.’

– Virginia Woolf, Jacob’s Room

‘Still, to be travelling on one’s own with a hundred pounds to spend is a fine affair. And if his money gave out, as it probably would, he would go on foot. He could live on bread and wine.’

– Virginia Woolf, Jacob’s Room

‘They say the sky is the same everywhere. Travellers, the shipwrecked, exiles, and the dying draw comfort from the thought, and no doubt if you are of a mystical tendency, consolation, and even explanation, shower down from the unbroken surface.’

– Virginia Woolf, Jacob’s Room