Skip to content

Keywords

Articles tagged "Books"

The Zacharias Ascaris Affair

It all began five years ago, going on six. Ballast Publishing, a fledgling British publishing house, had just launched the first (and last) novel of its catalog, The Zacharias Ascaris Affair. No one, absolutely no one, could have foreseen the upheaval that this book would set in motion. Admittedly, the adventures of the young Zacharias Ascaris, though narrated with an undeniable flair for suspense, were in no way extraordinary. A group of adolescents, a few twists, a love story, a touch...

From “Bestiary”

The curtain goes up on the reading world from A to Zoo, emblematic. Here come the animals, tame and wild: Already it's problematic. * Apes smile at what they see When standing before mirrors. People smile or laugh, may be, looking on their lives in letters. * Is reading hard, or is it fun? Is it grasshopper or ant? Well, if you must know, son, Grab your specs and pipe a chant! * From blackbird to starling, the birds have gone their way. Ice and...

from “My Father’s Books”

In those rare moments when, bent over his opened books, he considered his fate, seeking solutions to the Balkan history of his family, in those moments when he thought he was fully prepared to begin writing the history of the Balkans through the declines of the three empires with which the life of his family had collided (Ottoman, Fascist, and Stalinist), my father began to ask himself which was his fatherland: the fatherland of his ancestors or the fatherland of his descendants. He...

From “Prison Memoirs”

Wang Dan was a leader of the 1989 student pro-democracy protest in Tiananmen Square. Following the government crackdown on June 4, Wang, who was on the government's most wanted list, went into hiding. He was arrested in 1990 and sentenced to four years imprisonment in 1991. After being released on parole in 1993, Wang wrote publicly about the pro-democracy movement to overseas publications and was rearrested in 1995 for conspiring to overthrow the Communist Party. He was sentenced in...

Texterminators

Introduction: War and Literature Two years ago I asked a carpenter who had done a good job for a friend to come to my home and build a bookcase that would house the many volumes scattered on the floor and under my bed for lack of space. The carpenter was a young, jovial man who enjoyed chatting when taking a break and sipping my Lebanese-Turkish coffee. Coffee encourages conversation, and each time we sipped coffee together, we'd get to know a bit more about each other. He was from...

Gulliver in Icelandic

On my first day, I was overcome with dread. It wasn't even four in the afternoon and the sun had set long ago. They turn on the streetlamps here by two, two-thirty, and in the brief spell of sunshine, the colors are as dim as in an old photo. For five months now I've been traveling on my own, just me and my knapsack, looking at snow and fjords and ice. The whole world is painted white, and at night—it's black. Sometimes I have to remind myself this is just a trek....

Ten Short Pieces

The Artist's Likeness Is Like an Artist This tale is rather old: Two painters wanted to see which of them could paint the painting that best imitated reality . . . One of the painters painted the front of a house, and the illusion was so perfect, so exact, that at first his competitor believed he had lost, but then understood that he simply had to enter the painted house and hang the painting that he had painted on a wall inside. The Angel Who Photographed God Who, these days,...

The Not-So-Perfect Crime

My brother Borja's name isn't Borja. It's Pep (or Josep). And his surname isn't Masdéu Canals Sáez de Astorga. We're both Martínez on our father's side and Estivill on our mother's. Unlike Borja (I mean, Pep), I've kept the name and surnames my parents christened me with: a humble Eduard (though still a Spanish Eduardo on my ID card) Martínez Estivill. On the other hand, my brother's (or at least the one he prefers to...

Local Affairs

After attending the first Festa Literária Internacional de ParatióFLIPóin Brazil in 2003, Julian Barnes wrote in the Guardian, "What makes a literary festival work? Organisation, programming, author-coddling (very important), marketing; beyond these, location, location, location." Parati, a small town on the coast halfway between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, is an out-of-the way, unlikely location for a literary festivalóand it has produced unlikely...

Intrusive Reader in the Night

When I write, I never think of the reader. But last week, late at night, I was reading a story by Jorge Luis Borges at a table in a bar when a man of my age came over to me with an air of hostility: "I am a reader and I came to settle accounts with you." I was going to ask something, but he continued in a harsh tone: "For two reasons: the first is that you excluded me from your romance novel. The second is the more serious one. You killed my father in that same romance novel." I...

The Sorrow of Columbkill

Adomnan writes that Saint Columba of Iona, still known as Columbkill, Columbkill the Wolf, of the tribe of the O'Neill of the North through his grandfather, Niall of the Nine Hostages, was a brutal man when he was young. He had a fierce love of God, war, and small, precious objects. A man of the sword, he spent his youth in a bronze cradle. He served under Diarmait and under God: Diarmait, king of Tara, who relied on his sword during his raids in the sea of Ireland, for the pillaging...

With Borges

Nachtigall, Liebe, Herz, you can read Heine without the help of a dictionary," he said. And he enjoyed the possibilities German allowed of making up words, as Goethe's Nebelglanz, "the glimmer of the fog." He would let the words resound in the room: "Füllest wieder Busch und Thal still mit Nebelglanz *Š." He praised the transparency of the language, and he reproached Heidegger for having invented what he called "an incomprehensible dialect of German." He loved...

“Villon and I,” from “Territoires d’Outre-Ville”

The ties between Arab youth and the law bring to mind, in many ways, a nineteenth-century novel. For a long time I was fragile, yet in the pervasive delinquency around me, I seemed driven by some borrowed force. Invariably, the ghetto child's first act of revolt is to commit an offence. Poverty, that traditional proletarian sickness, dictates every action. Therein lie the roots of begging, of thieving. I recall being hungry the way a grown man is hungry in the streets of this country. I...

Puerta de Alcalá

It loved to happen. -Marcus Aurelius (Written over the doorway to Seymour and Buddy Glass's bedroom in J. D. Salinger's Franny and Zooey) He had always heard that to name disasters was sure to make them happen. And now, once again, the Jornal de Angola was announcing an imminent South African invasion. Every week the same announcement was repeated with absolute certainty along with irrefutable evidence, logistical facts and government statements. Nevertheless, despite the fact...

Should Americans Read More Literature in Translation?

Should Americans read more world literature to rip away the blinders we so often wear when it comes to those who are "not like us"? "Yes" is the quick answer, the answer that salves our collective conscience, but it is that word should that has begun to bother me. Should has not gathered as many dedicated readers of works in translation as, well, as it should have. The proof is in the numbers. In the April 23 edition of the New York Times, an article by Dinitia Smith on PEN World...

Girls

Darka saw her in the trolley, the sweaty, June-soaked trolley, brimming with people and their smells: sweet, almost corpselike, female, heavy, equestrian, yet oddly palatable, and even stimulating, sexual, distinctly male. Suddenly all the smells switched off, leaving only a girlish profile on the sunny side of the car, angular as a Braque: abrupt, soaring cheekbones, a fine pug nose, mulatto lips, and a sharp, childlike fist of a chin—a capricious, fragile geometry which...

Like what you read? Help WWB bring you the best new writing from around the world.