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Articles tagged "From 1950 To 2000"

The Robot

No one was surprised by his arrival. There was nothing miraculous about seeing a robot walk in through the door, choose a table, push away chairs, and study the menu. He did all of it as adroitly and matter-of-factly as any other guest would. With his finger he indicated the Wiener schnitzel, and the waiter, not upset in the least, brought it to him. The robot skillfully cut up the meat into rather large pieces (knife in his right hand and fork in the left), poured wine into his glass,...

The Many Masks of Max Mirebelais

Roberto Bolaño's Nazi Literature in the Americas presents itself as a biographical dictionary of American writers who flirted with or espoused extreme right-wing ideologies in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It is a tour de force of black humor and imaginary erudition. The novel is composed of short biographies, including descriptions of the writers' works. All of the writers are imaginary, although they are all carefully and credibly situated in real literary...

Ars Poetica

Poetry Forgive me for having helped you see you are not made of words alone.

Encounter

I have a feeling that it is a mistake to go to the party at Mr. M.'s, especially under the circumstances. Things have tightened up once more. Again scarves have to be pulled down all the way to the eyebrows and legs covered in thick, black stockings. Again the loose-fitting, ankle-length smocks have to be worn. They are once again slashing women's bare legs with razors and shaving the heads of young boys or publicly flogging them in city squares. And yet no one is really scared or...

Selections from Our Archives

Of special concern to Borges aficionados, Alberto Manguel deciphers his detective fictions and Alain Mallard has an epiphany about him by means of oneiric word games. Whereas Cecila Vicuña charts the linguistic theory of infinity that influenced Borges, Witold Gombrowicz criticizes his fantastic metaphysics. Finally, in an interview, Eloy Urroz proposes that the vow of Latin American writers is to become the next Borges.

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 Dark and The Daylight

NOTE: Mahmoud El-Wardani (born Cairo, 1950) has published six novels and several collections of short stories. Typically his works are dispassionate and discontinuous depictions of ambiguous, disturbing situations. Imprisoned for student activism in the 1970s, el-Wardani was also one of those who transported the bodies of deceased soldiers during the 1973 war. For several years now, el-Wardani has worked as a senior editor of Cairo's weekly literary magazine Akhbar al-Adab. In his...

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...

Flirting with the Moon

NOTE: Haggag Hassan Oddoul (born Alexandria, Egypt, 1944) an ethnic Nubian author--who writes in Arabic--did construction work on the Aswan High Dam and has served in the Egyptian armed forces during two wars. He began writing at the age of forty and was awarded the Egyptian State Prize for Short Stories in 1990. An English translation of some of his stories by Anthony Calderbank has been published as Nights of Musk: Stories from Old Nubia (Cairo & New York: The American University in...

Mrs. Saniya’s Holiday

Under the beam of light that fell from the one window of the room, darkening the rest of this particular place, Abla Saniya, the seamstress, starts up her machine aware of making use of the last thread of daylight before darkness takes over the room. Abla Saniya turns on the electric light whose cord comes through the same window, for which she pays five pounds every month and which she takes great care in collecting, since her income melts into the smiles of her youngsters and the...

Women

With their blue tattoos And bruises from endless mournings They stand still looking at the fire They all shiver when the wind blows Their breasts bend to the earth Carrying burning wood in their hands Old as black rusty cauldrons Women continue their wandering When the fire bursts in a rage Voices multiply The fire burns incessantly there Extinguishing it is such a hassle Women with shrunken breasts Are thinking of the hardness of the wood They'll hold with their...

Other Destinations

When I was eight years old I decided to run away from home. There's no sense explaining why right now. Maybe some other time. Let's just say that where I used to live, on via Vincenzo Gemito 64, staircase B, apartment 12, my childhood fears were so real that they chased away the storybook fears I would have gladly braved-a shipwreck, a leap over an abyss, a fire-breathing dragon-which would make a brief appearance, subside, and sneak away. So I made my plans. Basta! I...

The East with Its Acrid Wind

I came Silent and sad I abandoned myself to the earth My heart was saying Wait Hurry and find a temple But I was too late The shadow of the walls remained But they themselves had gone Sometimes I say the east The east with its acrid wind Is surely enough for me to understand For comfort I packed in my bag Quatrains and maps I gathered pebbles I let my hair down in sorrow In the midst of that strange crowd Talking of you I looked into the deep sleep of mountain...

It Hurts To Be Here in This World / I Came To Know It

All the crimson stones on earth Are washed with God's blood. That is why crimson stones Teach us how to be children. When we are children God goes around with us. Touches our earrings And our necklaces. Hides in our shoes and The folds of our little girls' Ribbons. I must buy a crimson dress and crimson bed A crimson ring And lamp. The time must come When the mother's time runs and then runs out. The blood that knows to wait Knows too to turn to stone...

Look

The blue winter sky like a stone on which angels sublime and quite unearthly sharpen their wings moving on rungs of radiance on crags of shadow they gradually sink into the imaginary heavens but in another moment they emerge even paler on the other side of the sky the eye's other side Don't say that it's not true there aren't any angels you immersed in the pool of your indolent body you who see everything through your eye's color and stand sated with world -...

Principality

Marked in the guidebook with two stars (in reality there are more) the whole principality, that is to say the city, the sea and a stretch of sky, looks great at first glance. The graves are whitewashed, the houses are detached, the flowers are plump. All the citizens are guardians of landmarks. Due to the low number of tourists, the work is easy - an hour in the morning and an hour at night. In between there's a siesta. Over the principality a cloud of snores rises,...

Angels of Civilization

At the turn of the century it seemed that angels were leaving us forever and that every trace of them would be lost. They were still employed here and there by funeral services. They also held up unfashionable canopies. But essentially they went pale from inertia and slowly turned into pink powder. The real renaissance of angels came with the development of airline companies. You could say without exaggeration they came back to earth and took on the flush of life. They provide aid in...

She was doing her hair

She was doing her hair before going to bed and in front of the mirror it lasted an infinitely long time between one bending of the arm at the elbow and another epochs passed from her hair soldiers of the second legion said to be Augustus Antoninian's spilled soundlessly Roland's brothers-in-arms artillery gunmen from Verdun with resilient fingers she secured the halo on the top of her head it took so long that when she finally began her swaying march towards me my...

On Translating Poetry

Like a clumsy bumblebee he alights on a flower bending the fragile stem he elbows his way through rows of petals like the pages of a dictionary he wants in where the fragrance and the sweetness are and though he has a cold and can't taste anything he goes on trying until he bumps his head against the yellow pistel and gets no further than that it's too hard to push through the crown into the root so the bee takes off again he emerges swaggering loudly...

Prayer

Our Father who is on earth, whom I feel in the pine needle's prick, in the blue shirt of the worker, in the child bent over her embroidery, winding the thread around a finger. Our Father who is on earth, in the furrow, in the orchard, in the mine, in the harbor, in the cinema, in the wine, in the doctor's office. Our Father who is on earth, where you reign over your glory and your hell, and your limbo in the cafés where the rich gather to drink. Our...

I Write Poetry, Gentlemen!

I write poetry, gentlemen, I write poetry, but please don't call me poetess; I swig my wine like the bricklayers do and I have an assistant who talks to herself. This world's a strange place; things happen, gentlemen, that I don't disclose; they build cases, for example, yet never build homes for the poor who can't afford them. And old maids are always having it out with their dogs, married men with their mistresses, yet no one says anything to the brutal...

Unjust Praise

In the beginning The spirit moving Upon the face of the waters And in the breaking waves Tasted salt And I see fields of it Drying on the shore. We let in shallow lakes of sea To evaporate, And the salt Accumulates along their edge Thanks to the sunlight: Crystal white, Enough for everyone, Harvested and sold In every shop and on the roads: Salt!- In proper measure Bringing out the taste, The flavor and spirit Of our food, hot or cold. Why should...

Two Poems

The Oracles of the Virgin Music is the art which is most nigh to tears and memory.--Oscar Wilde Buried inside us were the sounds of the words our parents managed to utter in the moment of intercourse before they fell silent at the wonder of budding life. Buried inside us were the sounds of the songs we heard in the cradle before our mothers had forgotten the oracles of the Virgin. Buried inside us were the sounds of the grinding of...

Timid as a Mouse

1 There's an expression that describes me: timid as a mouse. That's what my teacher said, back when I was in primary school. It was one autumn, I remember, in Chinese class. Our teacher stood on the rostrum, wearing a dark blue cotton jacket over a clean white shirt. I was sitting in the middle of the front row, looking up at him. He held a textbook in his hand, and his fingers were coated with red, white, and yellow chalk dust. As he read the text aloud, his face and his hands and...

Groans

1 Here I am you alone In this mad, gaping Hell Here I am you alone and death altogether With its predators and its seers and the informers Perhaps I am arriving at The limit of my possibilities For you to arrive at the last Dream Flare up until you see me and Become complete until I see you My rose between two fires Inflaming me Hopefully I am inciting wisdom In this ruin I have tried To the end of the flower and the fire, Then, how have they isolated my...

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