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Articles tagged "Cities"

The City and the Writer: Celebrating Five Years

In 2009, Rohan Kamicheril, then an editor at Words without Borders, asked me to be a contributing writer to the magazine—writing reviews, translating. I was very keen on working with WWB but wanted to participate in a different way. Within a year, I proposed the idea of writing the literary travel column “The City and the Writer,” a vibrant and wide-ranging forum for the exploration of cities through the writing of local authors, launched here. The series began...

The City and the Writer: In Salt Lake City with Paisley Rekdal

    If each city is like a game of chess, the day when I have learned the rules, I shall finally possess my empire, even if I shall never succeed in knowing all the cities it contains.                —Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities   Can you describe the mood of Salt Lake City as you feel/see it? Right now: hopeful. What is your most heartbreaking memory in this city? After just moving...

The City and the Writer: Gaza, What Remains with Eduardo Soteras Jalil

The problem with pain is that it hurts. No one summoned me, a young Argentinian, to war; nor was I a freelancer at the time, invited to take part: I simply made up my mind one day. Or maybe it took two days, a week to decide. I might not have decided on anything, but there was something in me insisting, a feeling like a nail puncturing me, refusing to leave me alone until I did something. Gaza was slowly disappearing, humming with F-16s, pounding with explosions like a faraway rumor, like...

The City and the Writer: In Singapore with Latha

Special Series/ Singapore 2015   If each city is like a game of chess, the day when I have learned the rules, I shall finally possess my empire, even if I shall never succeed in knowing all the cities it contains.                —Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities   Can you describe the mood of Singapore as you feel or see it? The mood is one of people always on the go and seeking material success. I...

The City and the Writer: In Singapore with Suchen Christine Lim

Special Series/ Singapore 2015 If each city is like a game of chess, the day when I have learned the rules, I shall finally possess my empire, even if I shall never succeed in knowing all the cities it contains.                          —Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities   Can you describe the mood of Singapore as you feel or see it? In this city of six million...

The City and the Writer: In Singapore with Toh Hsien Min

Special Series/ Singapore 2015 If each city is like a game of chess, the day when I have learned the rules, I shall finally possess my empire, even if I shall never succeed in knowing all the cities it contains.             —Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities   Can you describe the mood of Singapore as you feel or see it? In recent years, like a teenager’s: sullen, discontented, and argumentative. There have been a few...

The City and the Writer: In Singapore with Mohamed Latiff Mohamed

Special Series/ Singapore 2015 If each city is like a game of chess, the day when I have learned the rules, I shall finally possess my empire, even if I shall never succeed in knowing all the cities it contains.                      —Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities Can you describe the mood of Singapore as you feel or see it? Singapore is a small city-state, and is known as one of the most developed...

The City and the Writer: In Singapore with Anne Lee Tzu Pheng

Special Series/ Singapore 2015 If each city is like a game of chess, the day when I have learned the rules, I shall finally possess my empire, even if I shall never succeed in knowing all the cities it contains.                    —Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities Can you describe the mood of Singapore as you feel or see it? For several years now, I have felt a growing sense of...

The City and the Writer: In Singapore with Kirpal Singh

Special Series/Singapore 2015 If each city is like a game of chess, the day when I have learned the rules, I shall finally possess my empire, even if I shall never succeed in knowing all the cities it contains.                  —Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities   Can you describe the mood of Singapore as you feel or see it? Anxiety-ridden and intensely competitive; faces show a lack of inner peace...

The City and the Writer: In Florence with Elisa Biagini

If each city is like a game of chess, the day when I have learned the rules, I shall finally possess my empire, even if I shall never succeed in knowing all the cities it contains.                                                —Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities       Can you describe the mood of Florence as you feel/see it? Quoting the Italian...

Velocity

I met her on the day that I divorced the sow. She came up to me and asked if I wanted a hug. She was wearing a black T-shirt with the words “International Hug Day” emblazoned on it. Behind her trailed a flock of smiling huggers. On any other day I would have yelled at them to go get a real job, since I knew they were the type who turn the celebration of “international days”—days like “No-Smoking Day,” “Family Day,” “Accident-Free...

Dustland

There was a rustle in the bush up ahead and I froze in my tracks. The bush rustled again and I thought there must be a snake in it. Snakes scared me even before, but now one had actually bitten me. It was some poisonous kind and I nearly died. Only someone who’s been bitten at least once by a venomous snake can appreciate how much a person who’s been bitten comes to fear this slithery creature. He starts seeing snakes everywhere, and I too began to see one in this dry bush....

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...

The City and the Writer: In London with Owen Hatherley

Special City Series/London If each city is like a game of chess, the day when I have learned the rules, I shall finally possess my empire, even if I shall never succeed in knowing all the cities it contains.                       —Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities   photo credit: Agata Pyzik Can you describe the mood of London as you feel/see it? The mood...

Sweating and Swearing in “Clash of Civilizations”

In the opening chapter of Amara Lakhous's gritty mosaic, Clash of Civilizations over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio, Parviz Mansoor interrupts his rambling monologue to comment on the way language is used by the nosy doorwoman, Benedetta: Guaglio' is Benedetta's favorite word. As you know, guaglio' means "fuck" in Neapolitan. At least, that's what a lot of Neapolitans I've worked with have told me. Every time she sees me head for the elevator she starts...

An Introduction to Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio

"Doesn't make any difference who we are or what we are," a cholera germ announces in one of Twain's stories, "there's always somebody to look down on!" No recent novel illustrates the truth of this axiom with more precision, intelligence, and humor than Amara Lakhous's Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio, which is exactly what the title promises, except better. It's a satirical but not unsympathetic examination of the events leading up to a murder...

The A to Z of Literary Translation: W, X, Y & Z

Worldwide web development and the long-tail phenomenon offer new opportunities for the visibility of literary translation. Electronic translation software is to be avoided. Postcolonial and new immigrant writing benefit from cross-frontier digital exchange. And lesser known cultures and languages can become more familiar to wider audiences—Ala Al Aswany's runaway seller The Yacoubian Building (translated by Humphrey Davies), comes to mind.   Xenophobia feeds off ignorance...

In the Shade of the Almond Tree

Author's Note: Two major obstacles to happiness remain constant throughout the history of Haitian society: social and economic injustice, and totalitarian tendencies. Poverty can be as cruel as dictatorship in its effect on the individual. When the two join forces against the human spirit, the choices are limited: violence and madness, hopelessness and revolt. Because even in the depths of madness, revolt can lie dormant, only to erupt, savagely and uncontrollably, against those who...

Deprivation of Liberty

Out of the hundred thousand or more stories that happen in Berlin on a daily basis, why tell this one? Let's say it's indicative of a general trend. The story's main character is Anita Paschke-thirty-two years old, blond, slim, single, and a mother of three. Minor characters making an appearance are Ströhler, a waiter, Schälicke, a second lieutenant with the East German People's Police, and Siegfried Böttger, the director of a state-owned enterprise,...

The Veiler of All Deeds

NOTE: Born in 1968, Hamdy Abu Golayyel is of Bedouin origin and lives in Cairo. In keeping with a growing trend in Egyptian fiction, Thieves in Retirement-the novel from which this excerpt is taken-is set in a crowded Cairo apartment building, the various inhabitants of which offer a cross-section of Egyptian society, while highlighting a modern sense of displacement and urban alienation. Thieves in Retirement will be published by Syracuse University Press in 2006. People are...

The Man Who Sold His Shadow

Here's a question we all ask ourselves at least once when we're young: Where does that starlight come from? It's been there before I was born, and before my grandmother, and her grandmother were born. So just how far is that star from Earth? The curiosity of children is insatiable. They'll grab a flashlight and aim it at the stars and think, This light will get there someday, won't it? When I'm dead, and my grandchildren are gone, and their grandchildren as well....

La Terra Santa

I Insane asylum is a word much bigger than the dark vortex of dreams, yet it used to come once upon blue thread or a distant nightingale's song or your mouth opened, biting at the blue the fierce untruth of life. Or an invalid's ruthless hand slowly climbed your window syllabifying your name and when the foul number was finally loose you rediscovered all the seriousness of your life. II Affori, a distant town buried in filth, here you know beams and bolts and...

Nothing?

Where I used to dwell in my autumn, with my rags and I say dwelled because I felt alive inside there as never before. Where I used to inhabit tremulous, subtle and I was recognized by my sinews and my veins and by the air that traveled in and out your lungs. There, down in your bloodstream and within your thoughts that host now another guest, is there not left a remnant of sorrow? not even some ashes? written in jail in Cuba in the summer of 2003

I Don’t Want Anyone Coming around to Save Me

I don't want anyone coming around to save me So, whoever is sending me those nice thoughts, those smug little messages, --take it elsewhere. Cut off the oxygen now. I don't want to suffer the agony of the mask. And that black paint from the stone path is not going to hide my fatigue nor my headstrong, parsimonious way of putting up with it. The gauze, the tight gauze, saves just the burns on the surface of my skin So there is nothing to do about the...

High Fidelity

They'll be free from the gramophone's pain, its torture from the rub and the needles. Chaste, they'll not know the sin of singing a capella while hungry caught between the farce and the fair. The men who stay at home humming soft melodies will acquire wisdom. A fortunate life, serene happiness will be theirs and their children's. As light as ash. As clear as eternity. For the next poem in this sequence, please click here.

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