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Articles tagged "Children"

From “Boat Number Five”

Emotionally neglected by her immature, promiscuous mother and made to take care of her witchlike, dying grandmother, twelve-year-old Eva has been left to fend for herself in the social vacuum of a post-communist concrete apartment block jungle in Bratislava. She spends her days roaming the streets, and daydreaming in the only place where she feels safe: a small garden inherited from her grandfather. On her way to the garden she stops at a suburban railway station, where a fateful...

from “The Boys”

It was a balmy night, spring had started to slip into early summer, the trees’ leaves were thick and bright green. We didn’t speak, we only looked each other in the eyes and received the paper bags that Momo ceremoniously handed to us. And when I opened my bag in Bella’s room, my heart started beating so fast it hammered in my ears. She had made me a tiger costume. There was a hooded coat and a pair of elbow-length gloves, the tip of each finger adorned with a golden...

Nom de Guerre: Butterfly

That evening, I was sitting on my bed. Tala was jumping up and down on her bed next to mine, making it squeak annoyingly. She was jabbering away but I wasn’t following what she was saying because I was busy building my own world inside my head. Tala kept running in and out of the room. I didn’t notice how long she was gone. I just sat there, lost in thought. That is, until the time the sound of Salim sobbing came into the room before Tala did. As soon as I saw him, I hurried...

Counting Out

I’ve got a surprise for you, she said. We came out onto the main road, the empty main road. I gave a blank reply: a surprise? Get a move on! Nintso sounded impatient. We’ve got stuff to do and I want to show you my surprise. OK, I said. But on one condition. Fine, she said, tell me later. Why are you going this way, I asked. They’ll see us. The other way takes longer. Nintso, I said, they’ll see us. Fine. Nintso looked at me wide-eyed. Fine. We went round the other...

from “Disappear”

In this section, from the first of three interconnected novellas in Disappear, we listen in as the seven-year-old Jakub (nicknamed “Kuba” or “Kubík”) describes life just before and after the accident that leads to his family’s slow disintegration. Leg I didn’t grow more than three centimeters over the next year. My mom started crying one time when they measured me at the doctor’s. I tried not to see. It made me feel sorry. I’m just...

from “Guardians of the Public Good”

The narrator of Guardians of the Public Good (2010), Petra Hůlová’s sixth novel, is a young girl who finds herself at odds with the rest of Czech society after the collapse of the East bloc in 1989, seeing it as a betrayal of the values of communism, which she wholeheartedly believes in. In this excerpt from the beginning of the novel, before the so-called Velvet Revolution, she describes how her family was chosen to live in a model worker’s town, named after the...

from “Germans”

In the midst of World War II, Klara, from Germany, takes a job teaching schoolchildren in a small, mostly German-speaking town in Czechoslovakia; her duties include policing the children’s use of Czech. Language In March Klara overheard some children speaking Czech. It startled her. She was just going out for a walk when she suddenly overheard Czech; unsure what to do, she stepped back into the corridor and waited until the children had gone. A week later, she decided to visit...

Building a New World

I don’t know if people remember how they learned to read and write—or swim, or do cartwheels. I know that one day I wasn’t able to do these things, and the next day I was, even though the difficult gray area in between perhaps extended for months, years even. And the day I did suddenly know how to read and write was so different from all the rest behind me, that it seems perhaps more reasonable now to believe that I never was that other person—that I never existed in...

Some Other Zoo

It was as though she knew exactly where she had to go, as though it was an agreed appointment. She raised her arm to take my hand, pulled gently—she did almost everything gently—and I followed her. She led me to her mother’s car (her mother was not around), and I helped her up into the child seat. “So, off to the zoo.” “Yes,” she said. “Eagle! Lion!” The zoo seemed to be empty. Alone, in the middle of the main path, a roadsweeper was...

From the Archives: Spring Comes to the Mountains

In this endless winter, when spring seems distant as the sun, we turn to Mario Rigoni Stern's luminous "Spring," beautifully translated by Gregory Conti, from our March 2007 issue. Rigoni Stern opens with his childhood memories of winter's end in the Italian mountains—"in the month of March, when the thaw opened up the passes"—and the keen anticipation of spring; with his grandfather he writes a postcard: "To the Head of the Black Swifts | Alexandria, Egypt, Africa:...

To the Islands

She hadn’t seen him since the day when she had bitten his nose and he had chewed on her ear, in a fight over secondhand books. So when, from her comfortable seat on the swing under the mulberry tree, Hazel saw Mutti appear that afternoon, pokerfaced, she didn’t know quite what to do. He came to her and, carefully maintaining his serious expression, said: “I want to take you somewhere.” Under ordinary circumstances, her price for fulfilling this wish of...

At Livia’s Bar

This time she's building a city. The first city after eleven islands in a row, now gathered together in the soft red folder which, when her father goes out for a coffee in the evenings and she finds herself alone, she takes out of the drawer beside her bed, before pulling out one of the maps and descending somewhere into it. Here she comes to a chocolate shop, full of fragrance and cocoa powder. Here she comes to a lounge living room with a giant...

Dolls and Angels

Hannan didn’t realize how late it was or even that it was late. Today was different. It was an extraordinary moment in every respect. Her mother was no longer the woman she knew, and the neighborhood wasn’t the same one that she had always found outside her doorway. At dawn, before foot traffic picked up or the rusty metal barriers of the shops were raised, her mother had quit her bed, which was located to the left of the door. Hannan remembers that this was after the dawn...

Hate

—That makes exactly four kilos. When she heard these words a smile spread across her lips and she looked at her little son… The shopkeeper kept talking: —Sister, take this money…it’s eight rupees. Once again she reached out her hand from her chador and took the money handed over by the shopkeeper. In the afternoon sun, she set off in a hurry toward her home. She walked in haste and held her little son’s hand tightly.  Her grip was so firm...

Magic!

“I can read minds,” said Julian. For the past half-hour, Ronnie had been sitting on the edge of the river bank, his legs dangling and his eyes fixed on the river. It was eleven o’clock in the morning of a late January day, and it was hot as far as the eye could see. The landing stage at the end of the strand, the islander who was making his way across the river in his canoe, the reeds over on the other side of the gully, everything rippling as though imprinted onto the...

Garbage

Chokora. Garbage. Now I know why they call them that. They are of the same color as the street, a noncolor, one that time, wear and tear leave on things like an indelible patina, a distilled filth, that amalgamates and stains hands, heads, shoes. They are walking rags. Their bodies are coated with layers of filth, they are lost, emaciated, rachitic, inside their shapeless jackets, beat-up overcoats, sweatshirts that the passage of days and months have totally faded into oneness with the...

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