As the holidays end and the new year begins, we bring you back to work with tales of employment from around the world. Whether loathed or loved, work provides both livelihood and identity; and in times of economic depression and shrinking labor markets, jobs assume even greater importance, determining both personal and political stability. Whether reinventing themselves in a new economy or sticking it out in an old one, the characters here demonstrate the variety of the international work force. Colombian journalist Andrés Felipe Solano goes undercover in a Medellín factory. Milica Mićić Dimovska’s shopkeepers recycle used clothes for new clients. Ángela Pradelli's suddenly jobless woman goes into business as a bather. José Pérez Reyes describes a cabbie's strangest fare. In two tales of returning natives, Djibouti’s Abdourahman A. Waberi sees an academic transformed into a spy, while Iraqi Najem Wali watches a disgraced activist turn teacher. From London, Rebecca Carter explores the tremendous cultural differences from one country to another in the art of editing. In an extract from Patrick Hofmann’s Robert Walser Prize-winning novel, an earthy butcher slaughters a pig and enlivens a family. And on the flip side, François Bon charts French factory closings, and Quim Monzó paints a portrait of Catalan work stoppages.

Also in this Issue


I took the watercolor in my hands, looked it over briefly, and ripped it to shreds.

Pedestrian of Quito

Impossible to live with dead citizens / noosed to the floor of a stage

El Terrible

Life is postponed defeat / victory is death by an authentic hand.


The uncertainty spread: / who will watch over those without eyes? / ears?

Rooms and Gardens

They will greet you with mysterious / smiles, those who were there before you.

Book Reviews

Modern Poetry of Pakistan

For a country often drawn in newspapers as the backdrop of mosque and market bombings, troubled politics, and underdevelopment, poetry seems to waft through every aspect of Pakistani life.

Atiq Rahimi’s “A Thousand Rooms of Dream and Fear”

To traverse the fractured mind of Farhad, the protagonist and narrator of Atiq Rahimi’s latest novel, is to glimpse the broken soul of a battered and confused country.

Aharon Shabtai’s “War & Love, Love & War”

Aharon Shabtai’s new poetry collection War & Love, Love & War is, as its title suggests, a book full of reversals and inversions.

Six Months on Minimum Wage

One afternoon I counted 1,253 items of clothing.

Boutique Cinderella

She pulled on the dress playfully and it stirred there in the mirror, as if twitching with fright.

from “The Final Cut”

The butcher turned around, the kidneys in her left hand, the knife in her right.