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Our Year in Review: 2017 at WWB

By Susan Harris

Near the end of his life, the writer Bruce Chatwin characterized a rugged year as one he was "glad to see the end of." This December many of us may share his sentiment. In 2017 many of the threats and fears of 2016 came to grim and terrifying life, and unprecedented horrors monopolized the headlines. But even an annus horribilis brings the stimulation and comfort of new writing. From the twelve issues we published in 2017, and the many voices and themes we presented, we offer the following highlights—some echoing current events and others reflecting constant, and universal, themes.


For yet another report on power exploited and boundaries violated in the workforce

From our January “Bad Behavior” issue, Jean-Marie Blas de Roblès exposes the worst kind of industrial espionage in his “Breathtaking View.”

Image: Ivan Navarro, Conduit #1, 2015. Courtesy of the artist and Paul Kasmin Gallery.

For a reminder of the cold facts of global warming

From our February graphic novel issue, Francisco de la Mora and José Luis Pescador Huerta follow a desperate Arctic delegate to the UN, in “Joe.”


For a vivid example of the quotidian challenges of immigration

From our March issue of Bulgarian writing, Zachary Karabashliev tracks a disoriented old man relocated to the US in “Tomato.”

Image: Anastas Petkov, The Bridge in Burgas, Bulgaria, 2012. Courtesy of the artist.

For an illuminating examination of the Spanish economic crisis

Marta Rojals lays out cause and effect in “We Could Have Studied Less,” from our April Catalan issue. 


For an example of one common form of child labor

From our May issue, “The Global Feast: Writing About Food,” Ananda Devi’s girl cook finds revenge is a dish best served spicy in “Kari Disan.”

Image: JeeYoung Lee, Broken Heart, 2017. By arrangement with the artist and Opiom Gallery.

For insight into the dual danger of being both illegal and queer

Milena Solot’s transgender dancer crosses multiple borders in “Miss Eddy,” from our eight annual Queer issue in June.


For a portrait of a fourteen-year-old girl’s grace under pressure in 1982 El Salvador

From our July issue, “Divided Countries,” Claudia Hernández’s young teen stares down a band of guerillas in “Fifteen Days.”

Image: Sama Alshaibi, Contested Land Series—Mount of Olives, East Jerusalem, 2007. Courtesy of the artist and Ayyam Gallery, Dubai.

As a reminder of the unifying and universal power of music

In Paris, Iranian immigrant Najar Djevadi finds a home with “Johnny Rotten, Ari Up, Ian Curtis, Joe Strummer,” from our August issue, “The New French.”


For a reflection on how the writer’s options change in response to politics

One year after the peace deal that ended armed conflict between the Colombian state and the FARC, Silvana Paternostro embarks on a journey of rediscovery as a tourist to her own country in “Living to Tell New Tales.” From our September issue featuring writing from Colombia.

Image: Carlos Saavedra, Daughters of Huitaca: Maryuris Ipuana Uriana, 2011–2012. Courtesy of the artist.

For a lesson in navigating the restrictions of a despotic government

From our October issue, “What Unites Us: Turkish Short Stories,” Behçet Çelik shows a young man traversing a Turkish city under siege in “All the Streets of the City.”


For a damning analysis of the lexicon of racism, north and south of the border

Marco Avilés indicts bias in both his native and adoptive lands in his furious “I Am Not Your Cholo,” from our November issue, “Within (and Without) These Borders: Writing from the US.”

Image: Saba Farhoudnia, Chasing Dreams, 2014. Courtesy of the artist.

For a local take on an item of clothing and its fraught symbolism

From our December issue, featuring writing by Tunisian women, Emna Belhaj Yahia listens in on a conversation about headscarves in “A Game of Ribbons.”


In a year when many of us found ourselves constantly refreshing our browsers in search of good news, turning to literature not only brings relief, but reinforces our appreciation of art’s ability to transcend the limitations of life and transport us beyond them. We hope for a less tumultuous year ahead; but regardless, we’ll bring you another twelve months of exceptional international writing, providing both context for current events and an escape from them, in 2018.

Published Dec 28, 2017   Copyright 2017 Susan Harris

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