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September 2006

Literature From The "Axis Of Evil": Writing From Iran, Iraq, North Korea And Other Enemy Nations


How many Americans, even the most bookish, have ever read the work of a contemporary writer from Iran, Iraq, or North Korea, the countries George W. Bush designated the "Axis of Evil"? Words Without Borders is proud to be among the first to offer American readers a selection of stories and poems, most of which have never before been translated into English, from these and other nations currently considered "enemies," both in this issue and in our new anthology, LITERATURE FROM THE "AXIS OF EVIL" (The New Press).

In concert with the launch of our first print publication, we offer our readers bonus features online:

"Love's Turn," Mohsen Makhmbalaf (Iran): a ghazal in the form of a screenplay

"Words," Salah Al-Hamdani (Iraq): an apostrophe to Baghdad

"Sprouts," Zakariya Tamer (Syria): the schoolmaster as dictator

"A Nation Behind Bars." Khalid Oways (Sudan): "Art is forbidden. It calls for immorality and degradation."

"Making of Paris," Ernesto René Rodriguez (Cuba): a road trip across Europe

from Límites de Alcanía, Rito Ramón Aroche (Cuba): experimental prose poetry

"To Offer My Heart," Nancy Alonso (Cuba): the sound of the spirit read aloud

And interviews with advisory editors, relevant back issues (from July/August, September and October of 2003), and our extensive archives of works from Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Libya, Syria, Sudan and Cuba.

Finally, Words Without Borders salutes the life and work of Egyptian Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz (1911-2006).

Love’s Turn

TRANSLATOR'S NOTE: Nawbat-i asheqi (Love's Turn), a 1990 film by Makhmalbaf, provoked an intense public debate about movie morality, specifically women's control of their own


Who walks wearily within me at a time when your wound does not sleep? Baghdad I will divest you of your morgue so long to grasp I will divest you at the heart of things at the


As he did every morning, Bilal al-Dandashi headed to school. Arriving late, he entered trembling from fear of his teacher, whose rebuke would be crude and sarcastic. He discovered, however,

from “A Nation behind Bars”

TRANSLATOR'S NOTE: The author is Sudanese. This excerpt is a translation from Watanun Khalfa al-Qudban (Beirut: Dar Al Saqi, 2002, ch. 17, pp. 46-52). It takes place in the early to

Making of Paris

Rogelio arrived in Paris at dawn. He was in a car accompanied by three girls; two were in charge of the wheel. Quite a feat for Sabina and Jenny, they'd never driven so much. They drove

from “Límites de Alcanía”

Should I say that I take pleasure from treaties? Should I say that I take pleasure, rather, from false treaties? false treatises? * She presumes to know me. Or pretends. Very simple.

To Offer My Heart

The thundering chords of the Ninth Symphony filled a room where the only tapestries were crowded shelves of books and where music mingled with the sound of waves slapping against the terrace.

An Interview with Zara Houshmand

How did you find the pieces you included in the Iran section of Literature from the "Axis of Evil"? Isn't it next to impossible to find out who the great writers are from the countries

An Interview with Hayun Jung

How easy was it for you, living in Seoul, to find work for the North Korea section of Literature from the "Axis of Evil" ? Because there are very few North Korean publications available to

An Interview with Jacqueline Loss

How did you select the Cuban pieces for the anthology, Literature from the "Axis of Evil"? I combed through Cuban print and Internet literary journals*Š and I spoke with

The Toughest Guy in Utouf

As evening fell, Boss Bayumi al-Fawwal left the Husseiniya Police Station clutching a "caution against vagrancy," his chest about to explode with exasperation and rage. He frothed and foamed

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