Skip to content

Languages

92 article(s) translated from German

Small-town Novella

is it obvious when b’s gaze lingers on people in the schoolyard? there goes leif, being watched. how does it look to someone else? crazy? cheesy? b has known leif since twelfth grade, meaning they were separated from the others and sent to this school where they have a hundred and twenty classmates. then it’s down to pure chance whether old friendships slacken, stay firm, or fall apart at the seams. a high price to pay for a couple of “free” subject choices, limited...

translation

is there a zone of darkness between all languages, a black river, that swallows words and stories and transforms them? here sentences must disrobe, begin to roam, learn to swim, not lose the memory that nests in their bodies, a secret nucleus. will the columbine’s blue be a shade of violet when it reaches the other side, and the red bee balm become a pear, cinnamon- sweet? will my tench be missing a fin in the light of the new language? will it have to learn to crawl or to walk...

Heldenplatz

(Common room in a senior citizen home. Two elderly men in wheelchairs. The first is watching the one o’clock news, the second is devouring an apple pastry.) FIRST MAN: The nerve. Everyone cheers for him on the Heldenplatz and then he goes and cuts deals with the Russians. SECOND MAN: Yes, that was a mistake. But, come now, it was so long ago, at some point there’s got to be an end— FIRST MAN: That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about...

The First Thing I Saw

The first thing I saw when jolted from sleep was my father throwing books out of the window. He was dressed in the clothes he always wore at home, a sleeveless white undershirt and meticulously pressed dark blue trousers that matched the suit jacket he carelessly draped on a hook in the wardrobe as soon as the front door shut behind him. I’d woken with a start, it was night. In the harsh light, Father was standing at the window. He took one book after another from a pile and checked...

Getting Undressed, Yes, Getting Dressed, Too

Is it me? Am I next? No, you’re not next, no. No? I’m not? No, you’re not. No matter how many times you ask. You? And you? What about me? If you’re next? No? I’m not and you’re not. Neither of us is next. Whether you like it or not. Good. I thought so. No? What was it you thought, take your time, tell me what it was you thought, we’ve surely got long enough for that. That I was next, I thought. Or you. One of us. Me first and then you. I...

when speech left me

perhaps i was just drinking coffee or opening the newspaper. perhaps i was drawing the curtains or looking out onto the street when speech left me. still, i thought, what a rattling from deep in the wall, what a clattering in this room. no windowpanes shattered, no chairs toppled in the kitchen. the names on street signs vanished leaving only the ashes of letters. a tanker filled with words retreated above the houses, massive, silent, my swollen tongue twitched in my dry mouth. i escaped...

From “Staying Gone”

TGV 6175 from Paris Gare-de-Lyon Now Lo sits in a Train à Grande Vitesse to the sea. Le TGV: the train of great speed. The TGV has an odd nose similar to the Concorde before it. Lo thinks it might have to do with De Gaulle, who surely had a weakness for prominent noses. Although the train’s furnishings have seen better days, she doesn’t trust herself to tuck in her knees as usual and put her feet against the back of the seat in front of her. Nor to take off her...

Fish Television

I was clouds transforming, a sinking billow. I wanted to stretch out; I threaded and spun myself across the ground floor to the tracks. In times of haphazard, interrupted sleep, I had always used the train station as my sleeping pill. The new ice-white high-speed train stood before the waiting passengers with its windows closed, a foreign being. No one knows what goes on inside its smooth skin. These creatures are called Schlingerlings in common parlance, after the nameless white snakes...

You Turn Your Head, I Turn My Head

blue The way I spend all morning just thinking: blue! No way is this here blue. You must have been crazy or had some kind of color disability or been a total joker to call this green blue, to insist for years, stubborn as a mule and absolutely serious, that there was an ocean-blue sofa in this room. The way I sit here and shake my head and think: it’s crazy, it’s incredible, crazy blue! The way I sit here and think: all that’s left over, all it is is this totally green...

The Legal Haziness of a Marriage

Leyla’s 10-by-6-foot cell looked like the setting of a bad film noir. A hard cot. A tiny barred window. The air was stuffy and the days dragged by unapologetically. Leyla spent most face down, hands cuffed behind her back. She felt disgusted with her body. It had been a week since her last shower. Her dress was caked with multiple layers of blood and sweat. She had been arrested for illegal racing in Baku’s city center. The official charge might have been...

Rickshaw Diaries

August 27, 2014 Lucky Punch My second novel Deutscher Meister is about how the professional boxer Heinrich Trollmann beat the Nazis; it was published by Hoffmann und Campe in 2014. As I was writing the last chapter, researching liver punches, those ending in K.O. and those not, and how differently and yet specifically to the liver punch the recipients fall, and what kind of pain they feel, and how liver punches take effect on the inside, in anatomical terms, I worked out where a...

After Half a Life

1 After half a life: selva oscura. The dog that I was. Jesus-mittens nailed onto treetips—the Lord had large hands. Blooms made of ejaculate. I walked on. Deeper into the woods.   2 King of the beasts: a bird walking with a broken nose; wings, a comet tail, never worn. Pride after the fall. Carnal desire: a puffy octopus from the class of unsuitable cephalopods, floating in the sky in place of a moon. Staring at the transwoman I cannot be. Call me Beatrice, she says. I...

In Praise of an American Egg Wholesaler

May 6, 1946, thirty miles east of Dayton, Ohio, at an altitude of six thousand feet, in an old C-54 transport plane. John Conkey, six feet four inches and still completely pale after the fudged takeoff, unbuckles himself and wriggles forward through the gutted interior of the aircraft to Ray Melanchthon Petersime, who is sitting in one of the two remaining rows of seats and watching as a backwater called South Solon emerges beneath him, a heap of houses dumped between sodden fields by the...

Aladdin

The barrel of a gun is trained on my head. I stare at the wall, the unplastered bricks that have to be scenery so that this doesn’t stop being a game. Faruq is lying behind me. I want to turn my head, expecting the shot, blanks, a bang as my eardrum ruptures. The soldiers yelling, the supervisor’s voice, and I feel like I can hear Faruq gasping. Don’t move!—it’s my own breathing. The moment we were supposed to prepare for. The instant when the situation starts...

Maidenhands and Monologues

Maidenhands I walk past an establishment: Barbecue, Drinks, Girls. A modest sign stands out on the right— Contact Bar—and above the red lights smiles a blonde woman with heavily plucked eyebrows. She’s not actually the advertising face of the Contact Bar—she’s holding a pat of butter in her hands, just above her breasts, which are spilling out of her bodice, and smiling on behalf of a supermarket. An ad for a budget market and plucked breasts. Butter ads and...

Fighter

He doesn’t say that he had no choice. He says that his father was also a soldier. He says that if he had the choice today, he would perhaps choose differently. At that time he made his choice. My two grandfathers were also soldiers and fought for the lunatic who had his grandparents gassed in a concentration camp. But he has never asked about my grandfathers. He was stationed for five years in the occupied territories. Voluntarily. During the First Intifada. He tells this to...

as a mouse

“muxmäuschen” © Simone Kornappel. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2015 by Jake Schneider. All rights reserved.

Lessons from the Human Zoo

In the 1950s, the behavioral scientist Desmond Morris carried out art experiments with the chimpanzee Congo. What began with a hesitant pencil line drawn by Congo soon led to expressive, powerful, abstract compositions. Julian Huxley and Pablo Picasso were among those who bought the work. Congo painted with a passion but he wasn’t interested in "impact." He felt no need to display his pictures. In fact, he liked to tear them up as soon as they were finished. Morris had to go to some...

No Light in the Windows

Christmas was a weary old man when he entered the city. Puffy-eyed and heavy-legged, he dragged himself along, from street to street, from flat to flat. Our door must have been the last one on a long list, because when he finally got here, I slept through the presents and was comatose long before the oohing and aahing had faded away. There was nothing worth staying up for. I didn’t care about any of our relatives and because Dad wasn’t living here any more, half of them stayed...

The Gold Watch

Fifty years ago, when Turkish guest workers came to Germany and telephone calls were expensive, people recorded audio tapes and gave them to friends and acquaintances traveling to Turkey. On these tapes the guest workers talked about their lives, their jobs, and the factories they worked in; they described the cities they'd wound up in, and following all these narratives were lists of people they wanted to say hello to. In return, the relatives back home also recorded tapes, sometimes...

The Bed

I wake up early on an August morning in 1980. The blinds are drawn and the rays of the sun are blinding me. I reach for my sunglasses on the desk, but there is no desk, and the giant map of the United States hanging over the bed is missing too, along with my books, my wardrobe, the pictures, the carpet, and the wallpaper with its distinctive geometric pattern. For a few minutes I lie in bed, confused. I dreamed I was in America. America, my father said, is a melting pot, where everyone is...

from “The Graveyard of Bitter Oranges”

In front of a tropical fruit stand in the Piazza dei Cinquecento, lit up by low-hanging bare bulbs, I stood and observed the red flesh pierced by black seeds of the melons, the yellow pineapples split in two, the ovular, yellow-green bunches of grapes, and the segmented coconut flesh laid out in large basins. I heard Arabian music, camels knelt down before a Corpus Christi altar covered over with flowers, blessed mendicants meandered through the streets among the dead cobras, playing...

Block

Karl Walter Block was the only son of Irmgard Block (née Mucek) and Heinrich Maria Block. Heinrich had been a captain during the war and worked in an important secret office in Berlin until, for reasons no one ever discovered, he was dishonorably discharged, on Hitler’s own orders, and sent back to Upper Austria, where there was nothing left for him but to toil away from morning till night for the rest of his life on the farm he had inherited from his parents. This fate...

Pulse beyond the Horizon

After the water, there was nothing. And if you looked long enough at the horizon, you could make out a stillness that transformed when the waves crashed against the rig's legs and the rusted steel platform began to sway. The drill ate through layers of limestone into the earth's interior, it probed deep beneath the seabed while the reel on the drill floor rotated ceaselessly, and we, in twelve-hour shifts, stood by at the ready to connect more tubing to the well. The Gulf of...

A Time for Jokes

“What a feeling,” she says. “It’s like everything’s new, it’s really funny.” She means being out again, I think. On her own two feet, so to speak. A bright morning just before the summer, a time for T-shirts, tops and skirts. The road’s empty this early, me watching Susan without looking at her. I drive too fast, for the first time since I took her to the hospital, weeks ago when you couldn’t quite trust the spring. Fifty miles an...

Like what you read? Help WWB bring you the best new writing from around the world.