236 entries in Mag: Articles

Poets of Protest

Manal Al-Sheikh and Mazen Maarouf, two poets living in exile in Scandinavia, appear in the Al Jazeera-produced documentary series Poets of Protest, directed by British filmmaker Roxana Vilk.  The…...

An Introduction to New Venezuelan Writing

It surely is far from good manners to start an introduction with a caveat, but if the subject to be addressed is related to Venezuela, as this one is, it also may be dishonest, even slightly deceitful,…...

Viva Translation!

In 2010 the acclaimed American writer Lydia Davis published a new English translation of Gustave Flaubert’s acclaimed novel Madame Bovary. The convergence of so much acclaim did not, of course, go…...

Breaking the Taboo: Turkish Writers Face the Kurdish Past

Istanbul is a booming city these days. Neighborhoods where no one used to venture after dark become “in” areas full of restaurants, cafés, and art  galleries;  old, decrepit…...

The Ship-breakers

1 Shuel is eighteen years old, in a checked shirt hanging loose over his trousers, and with the trusting smile of a child to whom nobody has ever done any harm. Shuel and I are sunk up to our ankles in…...

Painting the Occupation

What did Suleiman Shakir paint? An abandoned house. An old man on a donkey. Children picking daffodils. The pictures didn’t need captions. Everyone knew what he was trying to tell them about the…...

Kyrgyzstan: Shade and Shadow

No Bukhara, no Samarkand, no meaning, just bare life in the rarefied air. That had been what I was after. A clarity of existence. To see sand sifting through the post-imperial rust. That would be enough…...

Words with Borders: Writing from the Oulipo

As the prevailing image used by book reviewers to praise literary translations is that of transparency—limpid, pellucid, crystalline—it seems clear, so to speak, how ready we are to think of…...

The Stations of the Cry

This is the tale of a lengthy journey. A step-by-step journey, one inspired by a misfortune that took place in the court of the Hungarian Prince Esterházy, in November 1772, in the city of Esterháza.…...

To sleep, perchance to dream

Censorship We know that the earliest readers of Remembrance of Things Past objected to the length of its incipit narration of its hero’s noddings-off and nocturnal (and diurnal) reveries. A gentleman…...

Infinity, Minus Forty Yearly Installments: Noun Complements (1972–2012)

1. In September 1972, funded by a scholarship, I took the Orient Express to Vienna. Sixteen-hour journey, upper bunk. Less than enthusiastic about sharing a room in the student hostel, I looked for a studio…...

The Life You Save May Be Your Own

Canada Dry Spoonerisms 1. A Sicilian caterwauls, except in Apulia. 2. The archaeologist’s wife does love a serious excavation. 3. How adroit you are with your crocuses! 4. The seafarer takes a pruning…...

Biting their Mother Tongue: Three Sudanese Short Stories about Estrangement

The three short stories collected here offer a glimpse into contemporary Sudanese understandings of estrangement, a theme with a long history in Arabic letters. From the pre-Islamic renegade poets who…...

A Coward’s Repentance

He had been watching me for a while, but I hadn't noticed him.  I was busy chatting with my cousin Astrida on the doorstep of her store in the center of the capital.  In Kigali, to greet…...

Writing Genocide: Poetry and Prose from Rwanda

Genocide is a specific type of crime, determined not only by the actions of the killers but also by their goal. The 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide emphasizes that the crime…...

Making the Ordinary Extraordinary: Pablo Neruda’s Odes

When Pablo Neruda published his first of three collections of odes—the Odas elementales (Elementary Odes)—in 1954, he was probably unaware that his Russian hero, Pushkin, had written 130 years…...

Breaking the Taboo of Sex through Songs: The Laabaan Ceremony

Sex education is one of the most important, and most often neglected, subjects in the preparation of children for adulthood, and, a topic that seems to preoccupy parents in cultures around the world. In…...

My Shadow Library: A Chinese Author on Book Piracy

After Mo Yan won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2012, publishers around the world rushed to print copies of his books—none more enthusiastically than China’s infamous book pirates. In China,…...

“Let’s Deal”: A Conversation with a Diamond Smuggler

It wasn’t even level. In fact, just about the only redeeming thing about the tilted plastic card table was the cartoonish beer logo plastered atop it. Even that was scuffed to the point of unreadability,…...

A Letter to a Young Poet: On Tomasz Różycki

I Once, on a long trip, I experienced an incident that was as trivial as it was enlightening. It happened that my luggage was lost for a couple of days while I was staying in a foreign city. Because I…...

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