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Articles tagged "War"

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...

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...

War

Men plan wars And women survive in the rubble One day there will be no men And a woman will pursue another In search of the scent of the last man Who touched his lips to her neck. © Manal Al-Sheikh. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2014 by Angham A. Abdullah. All rights reserved. 

Downtown

My share of sleep: four hours eleven minutes.
 I roll my pierced heart across the bedcover: it slams into the door, leaving
 a line of mud behind. I believe a tree
 will come one night and stop
 beside the line.
 Another tree
 will follow,
 and a third,
 a fourth, a ninth, etc.
 One night the line will grow
 and become a street. One night while I’m sleeping friends will stream out of my head
 and into the street to...

Letters without Envelopes

Mara's first letter came in the autumn of the late 1980s. The fact that she had gotten my address in Switzerland, as she explained at the beginning, seemed incredible to me, almost mysterious. She lived in Dalmatia, in a town I had never been to. She wrote me a two-page letter, mentioning more than once that she was a lesbian, probably the only one in Dalmatia, if not the whole of Croatia. For a number of years, she had been visiting her uncle in Zurich and particularly her friend...

The Poet Who Asked for Forgiveness

At its essence, the purpose of North Korean literature is to praise the Korean Workers’ Party. While South Korean poetry deals with topics such as love or life, North Korean poetry refers only to Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il, and Kim Jong-un, constantly reinventing itself as a mechanism of hymnal thought-control. In North Korea, whatever literary genius poets may possess, ignoring Party ideology in their work is a certain path to being mentally or physically broken by the state. This...

Salman and the Mule Suicides

My acquaintance with Salman extends back to our military service, to the winter of 1984, I think. In that year I began to serve in a series of units that fought in the mountains, cities, and canebrakes of Kurdistan. Till then, before being ordered to serve in the logistics battalion in a suburb of the city of Sulaimaniya at the Dukan Dam, to be precise, I had served in the Division of Military Veterinary Affairs under the command of the Third Army Corps in Basra. The Iran-Iraq War was...

Be Quiet, Soldiers

At the Ajeerda divide, the strip of land that separates the marshes on the eastern side, east of the city of Amarah, we were gathered into deeply dug-out positions. Thousands of soldiers, dressed in khaki uniforms, we were packed together, drenched by the rain, with our helmets and weapons. We placed ourselves in various positions, small sandbags above us, their exposed sides submerged in water and mud. The mud was so deep that we sank into it up to our thighs. The rain hadn’t...

A Portal in Space

The Friday bombardment started a little later than usual, at 8:30 a.m. The sound was loud and clear. Umm Anwar sighed, and her pain showed clearly in her expression. Furrowing her brow and ready to explode, she exclaimed to herself loud enough for the others to hear: “The downpour has begun, O Conqueror, O Provider.” Her son, Anwar, straightened up and rested his elbow on the sofa. He looked at his sister to check her reaction. Then he remarked calmly, “At the end of...

The Arab Altar

The last thing on our minds was celebrating our wedding, after we had waited so long, to the sound of air raid sirens and the reverberation of Dushka guns targeting the Iranian airplanes attacking Baghdad. Maryam had done everything she could to postpone the wedding, using arguments and excuses I found totally unconvincing. I was doing an MA in contemporary literature at the University of Baghdad. Once I was accepted there, Maryam volunteered to help me check sources and references for my...

An Interview with Chan Koon-chung

Chan Koon-chung’s gray, shoulder-length hair is a throwback to the seventies, when Chan founded an influential cultural and alternative lifestyle magazine, City Magazine. Chan has since made a point of being where the action is: City Magazine saw Hong Kong navigate the anxiety-filled return to Chinese sovereignty, and in the early nineties, Chan moved to Taiwan, where he worked in television during the transition to full democracy that had the country choose its first popularly...

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...

Ludwig and I Kill Hitler for No Reason (or, A Berlin Springtime)

"Another piece of pepperoni?" Ludwig offered generously. "Thanks, I'm full." I patted my stomach. "Full," Ludwig repeated the word, enchanted. "It's been so long since I heard that word." He glanced affectionately at the pepperoni stick lying on the uncovered table, as if looking at an old friend who'd helped him relive a pleasant childhood experience, and stroked the peel nostalgically. From time to time, they could hear the shelling out there and if you pressed your...

Illustrating Conflict: Perspectives from FIBDA

Under the heading "Algiers, Bubbles without Frontiers," this year's International Comics Festival of Algiers (Festival International de la Bande Dessinée d'Alger, or FIBDA) provides an important space for discussions and works around history, war, and conflict. I previously wrote about FIBDA in this series with an eye to the role it has played in the evolution and renaissance of Algerian comics. In this installment I would like to focus on the role comics can play as a...

The Ghosts are Schrödinger Cats

It was one of those evenings when the world was coming off its hinges, and once again, who knows why, someone decided to be unwise enough to care for it so that it wouldn’t. I stood in the armory next to small, deeply embedded Gothic windows and, looking through the lead, mullioned glass (which looked like it was made from the bottoms of bottles), tried to see what was happening outside the castle doors. As a waterfall thundered down over the gables, bringing with it pieces of slate...

To Arrive

When you get off the airplane, it will not be like Kabul airport, or like other cities of Afghanistan for that matter, where they drive stairs up and attach them to the door and then take down the passengers one by one. These days, there have been improvements everywhere, old man. But we, we are lagging behind, and war has taken us further and further back. The only thing we think of is devastation, and not creation . . . they will drive the bridge up and attach it to the airplane door,...

from “Ru”

I came into the world early in the Year of the Monkey, during the Tet Offensive, when long strings of fireworks hanging from the houses exploded in polyphony with the sound of machine guns. Saigon was my birthplace, and thousands of bits of old firecrackers covered the soil in red as if they were petals from a cherry tree, or the blood of two million soldiers, scattered through the towns and villages of a Vietnam torn in two. I was born in the shadows of skies embroidered with...

from “Purge”

When the Baltic Germans were invited into Germany in the fall of 1939, one of the sisters’ German classmates from school and confirmation classes came to say good-bye, and promised to return. She was just going to make a tour of a country that she’d never seen before, and then she would come back and tell them what Germany was really like. They waved good-bye and Aliide watched as Hans’s hands wrapped around Ingel’s waist and moved toward her rear end. Their...

Imaginary Return

1984 It was night. The ninth night. The most silent, the most oppressive. Under the whiteness of snow, in the darkness of time, the edges of the earth were lost. It was night. The ninth night. The smuggler had said: —On the ninth night, we’ll cross the border. Secretly, silently, we approached the border. All fugitives, leaving the land of our birth. Each because of a person, a thing, a word . . . It was night. The ninth night. We reached a pass. The smuggler...

Let Us Talk

First, we will bury you in the sand, with your head free to speak about mutual understanding, about peace;   first, we will make your field our own, station soldiers between mine and thine, direct the camera from our side;   first, we will count our dead from the past two thousand years and justify the beating,   and wipe the spit from our hands and declare—it's clear as day; you want no peace in this land. Translation of "Laat ons praten," from...

from “Farm 54”

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Galit Seliktar and Gilad Seliktar map a soldier's first evacuation

The graphic novel Farm 54 brings together three semi-autobiographical stories from the childhood, puberty, and early adulthood (military service years) of its female protagonist, growing up in Israel’s rural periphery in the 1970s and 1980s. The stories present the disturbing underground dimensions of adolescence, and the dangers and traumas that subvert the superficial tranquility of youth in the countryside. While these Israeli childhood stories take place in the shadow of war and...

from “A Game for Swallows”

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Zeina Abirached dodges bullets in the Beirut of her childhood


Father’s Return from War. Topics

Father went to war. Then he died in the war. When our neighbors found out the news, they looked at us, Mother and me, with pity. Later on they found out that Father did not die but he had eloped with a woman from over there where the war had taken him. This is why he never came back. Then the neighbors started looking at us, Mother and me, as if we were traitors. Contemptuously and repugnantly. Although I wasn’t at fault, we also started feeling as if we were traitors. Let us be...

From “Pol Pot’s Smile”

1 The road through the landscape. You have to drive well below the speed limit of 70 kph unless you already know the wheeltracks, the potholes, the curves. Roads in Cambodia aren’t much different. An ancient pathway that has grown wider over the centuries. Coated with asphalt in modern times. A surface now thinning and cracked. The society builders are looking in another direction. My car dates from 1971. Its once-red paintwork is blotchy and on the upper left corner of its cracked...

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