Sarah Van Bonn writes
fiction & nonfiction

about time, space, selves, others, words, images, facts, and feelings.
She is currently at work on a novel and a collection of essays.


— PANK Magazine

I woke up to the sound of angry gulls and the glitter of uneven sunlight dancing against the pink roof.

The Potsdam Report


A duck hurried across a road, looking affronted or embarrassed. Starlings were rude to each other and to no one.

“La chair est triste hélas et j’ai lu tous les livres”


At first I thought it meant there is no escape from the spiral of life’s endless quest for entertainment.



The air was big above her but the ground was close, and when she tried to find the way back,
she couldn’t distinguish one family from the next, each on a dusty plaid blanket, identical unreadable faces turned toward the sky.

Escape Velocity


Summertime meant heat and boredom, a blanket of stagnant damp. Dead mussels lined the shore, rotting in the sun, and the seagulls pecked and cawed, white-winged sociopaths, scavenging.



I walked through one of the old castle courtyards, looking for the right stairs to climb, a safe place to drink the allotted wine, no more no less, and wait the whole thing out. The pink of the sagging sun was a bright, brilliant knife blade, flashing into black then back then black again.

⭐️ Berlin Writing Prize Shortlist

On Bears: A Constellation


The Ojibwa tribe native to America’s Great Lakes tells of Mishe Mokwa, a mother bear who lived with her two cubs on land that’s now Wisconsin. One day, the bears’ forest caught fire: a raging blaze that drove them to land’s edge, where woods meet water. There, they had no choice but to swim for the other side.


mUltivalent States of Americanism


1. America is the hotel shampoo bottle, tucked inside your suitcase.
2. America is a shrug that never leaves the shoulders.
3. America is a watched pot; it is a delayed train.
4. America is a motorcycle, selfishly loud, recklessly advancing.

Methods of Transport


A car is a privacy that stacks itself upon
the privacies of others like blocks, like the wooden blocks of that endless tower game—you know
the one. The tower isn’t endless, but it also never really ends, even after it falls; that is the point
of the game.



Once upon a time was the beginning of the end. I flew to Southeast Asia. A beautiful man in a skirt drove me expertly through menacing traffic past staggering statues to a serene interior that swallowed me and began the act of forgetting on my behalf. I set when the sun set and rose when the sun rose, bottomlessly hungry.

How to Cure Your Fear
of Flying


Start small. Your brain created this mess; it can get you out. Right?

The key must be to think the right thoughts. Your elaborate rituals have so far kept the airplane from nose-dive and tailspin, but they don’t prevent that boulder of fear from implanting itself cozily in your gut weeks ahead of any flight.

A Year Nowhere


I healed from a rupture in the darkness of borrowed interiors. I reimagined the possible shapes of my trajectory, now that the string had been cut. These paths had lines and curves of course, but what do you call a shape you have no name for?

Narcopolis: A Literary Review


Jeet Thayil’s debut novel, the deftly and aptly titled Narcopolis is — like the polis in which it takes place — part cacophony, part symphony: a whirlwind of drugs, sex, violence, loves, lives, deaths, and more than anything, stories.

Boring ≠ Bad: A Defense
of Art

— MAKE____

A top-notch meal requires a skilled chef and an appreciative eater, a soaring skyscraper needs a strong foundation, and a healthy, happy romance calls for heaps of work. No pain, no gain, as the platitude puts it. Right?

Turbid Reflection: A Retelling of Bergman’s Through a Glass Darkly Based on a Single Viewing That Took Place Years Ago

— MAKE____

There is the salience of summertime. How it means the ritual of freedom from ritual. There is a table, al fresco. The atmosphere is lively familiarity, one of comfort derived from closeness, but of course at the same time of a question, a fear, of what’s underneath the surface, and of if, and of when.