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Articles tagged "Poverty"

Detour

To Nadève At first Eléonore had been amused.  Why had she taken this detour?  A whim, a random impulse, and seemingly not such a bad one.   But she began shaking her head in commiseration and mild indignation.  How could anyone let people live in such conditions?  Soon her hands grew moist with unease. She shouldn’t have chanced those unfamiliar roads, those broken traffic lights with their pitifully leaning poles, those faces that looked...

Poor Grandpa!

I never wanted to remember at all, let alone write about, what transpired when I took a walk with Grandpa to the sprawling Kariobangi slum area, that part of the slum known as Korogocho. I didn’t want to look back again, to reopen an old wound. An open sore for which there is no remedy, one that has refused to improve to a scar. An open sore. A huge open sore. It oozes with pus and discomfort, and constantly fills me with fright. However, my friends have urged me to write in detail...

The Beginning and End of the Oil Curse?

Why does oil wealth so often become a curse for developing states?  In the developing world, oil-producing states are fifty percent more likely to be ruled by autocrats, and more than twice as likely to have civil wars, as non-oil states. They are also more secretive, more financially volatile, and provide women with fewer economic and political opportunities.  For the last thirty years, good geology has led to bad politics. Not all states with oil are susceptible to the...

The Night Sucks

Jerry Luján, a boy in a visor, is walking in a ditch alongside Menaul Street today.  It’s Tuesday, five o’clock in the afternoon, and night is already upon him.  In Albuquerque it gets dark like this, out of the blue, as if someone has suddenly yanked the tablecloth from off a table.  Jerry Luján dawdles with his hands in the pockets of his windbreaker.  We are in the land of trocas and truck-gear. Meanwhile, in the center of Burque, the...

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...

The Spectacle

It was late in the evening when he came home. His wife sat on the veranda in front of the house, and he approached their sick five-year-old son who was lying on a bed. He took off his shawl, and as he wiped his head and short beard clean, he asked her how everything was with Bari. His wife, close to tears, answered: —His fever is still high. He is very weak and has been lying there all day. He has no appetite either, I gave him soup a couple of times but he wouldn't eat it....

Slow Freight

Are we poor, Dad? Yes, Son, we’re poor. Not very. But poor enough. Why are we poor, Dad? I don’t know. Become somebody took it? Took what? I don’t know. Tibi Kárász said we’re so poor, at our house the mice die of hunger pangs. Tibi Kárász doesn’t know shit. He also said I’m so scrawny, when I blink, the skin slides off my glans. Tell Tibi Kárász I’m gonna kick his ass. And I’m...

Gob

I saw her again today. She came out from the liquor store in Majorstua, the bottles pushed down into a worn brown bag, and I sensed shame, shame is the only word I can use—shame. It was twenty years since I’d seen her last. Georg and I had been to the Frogner Baths. We’d taken the plunge from the tenth board for the first time and were a bit sore. But we were walking on air—by heck were we—we were world champs. Some girls from the same year at school had been standing by the...

Capoeira With Heckler & Koch

My bag in the back of the truck, the Antarctica bottles open, and we're off. David at the wheel of the red pickup, Felix in an open shirt and panama hat, me with the twenty-four-hour flight in my bones. We blast through a red light. Between the entrance ramps and concrete pillars the greenery grows rampant, and above everything an airplane thunders in for a landing. Felix reaches for the glove compartment and tears the door off, Holy Mother of God, there's nothing there, did you...

Run

To Tonino, for the bracelet. Every time I cross this street, I always choose the same spot: I walk sort of kitty-corner from the traffic island, or straight as an arrow along the crosswalk, as if the cars had stopped to let me pass. Or else, stepping down from the trolley, without an umbrella, I run to take shelter under the awning outside the pharmacy. But I always cross Via Marina at this same spot, I don't do it on purpose—that is, I do it on purpose, but without wanting...

Shoes

The clamor of children grew more faint. "It's good you came to get me early. Mom always takes forever." "Your mother works late." "Why don't you pick me up every day?" "I had today off. But I'd like to be able to come and get you every day." "I'm already asleep when you get home and then you leave before I get up and you never come and get me at school." "Oh, is that right? What about today?" The boy smiles and squeezes his father's hand. They cross the...

from “I Can’t Stand Still”: An Interview with Jáchym Topol

Weiss: What was your first time out of the country? Topol: My first time was in East Germany with my mom. She took my brother and me to the seaside there. That change—all of a sudden by the sea in the GDR instead of in Poříčí1 as usual—happened thanks to my mother's coworkers. Apparently they explained that you're supposed to go away on vacation with your kids. That ended the era of staying at home or with our grandma. Vacations at home...

Green Card

The kid was turning his stubby little chest this way and that with his arms stretched wide like the wings of a glider whirling out of control. There were few people on the sidewalk of September 3rd Street and so his mother didn't have to hold the groceries in one hand and him by the other. She let him walk along the side farthest from the road under a regime of partial autonomy. The kid spotted the tin can in Victoria Square at a distance of about ten paces. Previously he had kicked...

Out of Sight

A new publicity campaign called Colombia is Passion hopes to soothe travelers with an unlikely promise: "Colombia, the only risk is wanting to stay." A couple of months ago, the Huffington Post ran a travel piece that cheerily declared Bogotá "a safe, under-the-radar gem with plenty of nifty surprises." In the north of the city, young urban professionals now hop from bar to designer bar, from one Asian fusion restaurant to another, and all without bodyguards or armored cars....

from “Harbinger”

when yıldız was a little girl, big letters were always a problem for her. also the big ideas written in big letters. from the very beginning some people said that it was a disorder. for example, when she was only in elementary school—she must have been about five and a half years old at that time, her teacher asked her mother one monday morning—a gray, rainy morning, after the flag-raising ceremony it was—and a nasty, grumpy anger could be felt in the voice of...

Six Pots of Hot Water

Translator's Note: China has always been an agricultural society. In spite of recent industrial development, the majority of Chinese are officially identified as farmers, holding what is called the "nong ye hu kou" (farmer's resident status). Rural China has received much less attention than cities in China's modernization process. Farmers are facing a changing world where their traditional lifestyle is challenged as they often have to leave for the cities to make a living....

Bankruptcy

Don't speak to me of liquidity, I'm consumptive, debts and more debts accumulate in columns of fear. I couldn't carry the crushing mortgage I couldn't shake the bankruptcy that weighs like a hump in my back. I live in hiding from my creditors, like magpies they pursue my bounced checks, my credit cards are sneering harpies and if that weren't enough there is an order out for my arrest. What a monstrous catastrophe! From my autumnal...

Over the River

The river was as wide as a lake, a sea, or a plain. The village at the foot of distant mountains over the river would have seemed more illusory had it not been for a few green dots on the bank—lonely willow trees that brought the distant village nearer. Water as smooth as brocade flowed with boundless dignity toward somewhere over the horizon. The poor village on this side of the river had seventy-odd households, their shabby stone houses scattered along the slope. Yak dung...

Old Man with Garden at the Rear End of Time

In the Dona Berta garden, there's a bench. The only one left. All the others have been torn up, turned into loose planks bound for firewood. On this last remaining bench there lives an old man. Every night, seat and man, wood and flesh, cuddle up together. It's said the old man's got stripes on his skin, patterned by the shape of the planks, his outer skeleton. The elderly gentleman has been given a name: Vlademiro. He's been named after the avenue that passes by there,...

Milgrom

A girl is sewing herself a dress for the first time. She bought three meters of cheap fabric (just over a ruble a meter), but the fabric turns out to be surprisingly pretty, black with bright bursts of dots, like a nighttime carnival. The girl is in college and has no money—that's first of all. Second, she's just broken out of her schoolgirl shell. Literally—she tried to turn the ruins of her school uniform into a kind of skirt, and it came out hopelessly crooked and...

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...

All the Languages in the World

Chapter One Awakening It was a terrible dream. At first I couldn't find my bearings in it - I didn't know what I was actually dreaming about, what I felt afraid of, or what those big chunks of raw meat were supposed to be; despite being beaten to a bloody pulp, they were still showing signs of life. Only a while later, when an image loomed out of the confusion, moved towards me and came into sharp focus did I catch sight of an infinite multitude of human tongues, torn from...

from “Leyla”

My teacher was standing at the entrance to the schoolyard, watching me as I walked away. Now finally I can hide the front part of me from him, and I unbutton my white smock collar, holding the ends together so it won't fall off. I am sure blood will soon be gushing from my nose. The candy-store man has gone back into his cave-like shop. Caramel candy sticks wrapped in a cloth napkin lie piled like pieces of wood in the shop window. I'd love to stop and look at them for a long...

“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...

from “White Masks”

Chapter IV: The Dog -1- There's the clatter of the ancient truck lumbering through the hazy Beirut morning, the sea, and the mingled smell of salt and fish. Sky, gray clouds and waves. Engine clacking, its wheels pitching the ruts, the truck rumbles along. Zayn Alloul is sitting next to the driver up front. Mohammad al-Kharoobi and Saleh Ahmad are suspended on two small fenders at the back-end of the vehicle. The aroma of Virginia blend tobacco suffuses the front cabin: the...

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