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11 International Queer Pieces to Read Right Now

By Susan Harris

As you may have noticed, we’re celebrating our tenth Queer issue. WWB has always published queer work, of course: there was the Spanish writer Andrés Barba’s sorrowful long story “Nocturne,” about a doomed May-December romance, as well as an excerpt from Polish writer Michal Witkowski’s campy Great Atlas of Polish Queens and Matteo Bianchi’s first bow in our pages, the frisky “Maternal Pride.” And we continue to include queer narratives in other issues, most recently last month’s “Shadow of Hermaphroditus,” by the Omani writer Badriya al-Badri. But our annual collections of LGBTQ writing—eighty-six pieces to date, written by authors from forty-eight countries, translated from thirty-two languages—have compiled remarkable narratives of international lives viewed through a queer lens. We recommend them all; but if you’d like to dip in and out of our past issues, we suggest the following highlights.


1. Angela Dimitrakaki,  “Inside a Girl Like You,”  translated from Greek by Karen Emmerich

“How long have I been writing to you? An hour and five minutes. I don’t know what you think when you log in and see that you have something ‘from Kat again, dammit.’ If it disgusts you. What is all this shit I’m writing, for fuck’s sake! I’ll stop now.”

From our first Queer issue in 2010, a yearning email to a lost love, dense with memory and pain. Read more>>


2. Abdellah Taïa,  “The Algerian and the Moroccan,” translated from French by Lydia Beyoud 

“From the very beginning, we wrote side by side, one for the other, one the story of the other, his past, his characters, his images, his obsessions. We did that, this incredible thing, impossible with others: holding the pen together, moving across the page together, in love and its writing at the same time.” 

In another mournful tale, the joint journal of a taboo affair prompts an elegiac letter. Read more>> 


3. Kim Bi, “Tree of Lips,” translated from Korean by Sora Kim-Russell and Eunjung Kwon-Lee

“The first time she saw her father wearing the skirt, she thought it was for fun. Back before she could remember, for reasons she did not know, her mother had left her father and her. Her mother did not say a word to little Ran, and her father, likewise, had nothing to say.” 

A young girl’s resentment of her “crazy” father changes in the face of stunning news. Read more>>


4. Vaishali Raode, "Lakshmi's Story," translated from Marathi by R Raj Rao and P G Joshi

“People are curious to know about hijras. How do we live? Behave? What do we do? Do we kidnap children? . . . Because we hijras are so secretive about our lives, hearsay rules the roost.”

An Indian journalist gives voice to a hijra, a name given to third gender people in many parts of the subcontinent. Read more>>


5. Dmitri Kuzmin, “On the Moscow Metro and Being Gay,” translated from Russian by Alexei Bayer

“For me, the anti-gay hysteria that is being currently revived and fanned in my country has strong personal implications. It forces me to cling to my gay identity. As long as the image of the enemy is being concocted out of gays, I must make all my public statements exclusively as a gay man.”

A Russian writer declares his intention to foreground his sexual identity in his homophobic country. Read more>>


6. Qiu Miaojin, Last Words from Montmartre, translated from French by Ari Larissa Heinrich

 “I knew you had already ensconced me in a hidden corner of your life. You didn’t want me to write you or call you, and I could feel your fierce resistance, a temperamental cry from within, aimed at me: I don’t need anyone. I’m fine on my own!”

 From a Taiwanese writer in Paris, an epistolary howl addressed to the lover who spurned her.  Read more>>


7. Dragoslava Barzut,  “The Death of My Parents in the Village,” translated from Serbian by Paula Gordon

“The death of my parents in the village / played out long ago in my childhood.”

An anguished  poem confronts the pain of estrangement and loss.  Read more>>>


8. Alberto Salcedo Ramos, “Queens Football,” translated from Spanish by Rosalind Harvey

“This afternoon, as has become customary, the players gossip loudly while they change into their uniforms. The most foul-mouthed of all is La Ñaña, the team's founder.” 

A Colombian journalist reports on the raucous activities of a vamping soccer team made up entirely of transvestites. Read more>>


9. Jeon Sam-hye, “Genesis,” translated from Korean by Anton Hur

“I wanted to tell him that I knew Saeun Choi better than any friend or family, that if he crossed her I would kill him. That I knew you better than anyone else because I loved you. But I couldn't say that.”

A banished astronaut-in-training’s yearning for the unwitting object of her affection. Read more>>


10. Milena Solot, “Miss Eddy,” translated from Spanish by Christina MacSweeney

“’Good morning, sir. Rough night?’” said the tall lanky one.
"’Perhaps he prefers to be called Miss,’” said the other with a sort of giggle, twisting his mouth.”

A taut tale of transgender dancers and a seductive sex trafficker at the US-Mexico border. Read more>>


11. Mortada Gzar, “While He Was Sitting There,” translated from Arabic by Claire Jacobs

“Jeffrey told me, 'That guy is here, the one who’s been asking about you for the last four months. There, in the corner.' As I got up, I saw a gigantic pair of legs sticking out of the corner. This guy is made of legs and nothing but legs!”

An Iraqi student hooks up with an American soldier who drives home the costs of war. Read more>>

Published Jun 17, 2019   Copyright 2019 Susan Harris

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