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Words Without Borders is one of the inaugural Whiting Literary Magazine Prize winners!

November 2018

The Weight of History: Writing from Vietnam

Image: Do Thanh Lang, Emotion Chart 5, acrylic on glossy pp synthetic paper, April 2014. By arrangement with the artist.

This month we bring you writing from Vietnam. The prose writers and poets here explore and depict lives shaped by the country’s fraught politics as well as by their own personal histories. Poet and literary critic Nhã Thuyên escorts us through the poetic underground. In two wildly contrasting portraits of marriage, Bùi Ngọc Tấn pens a gentle ode to lifelong love, and Trần Dần observes a household torn apart by infidelity and political betrayal. Trần Thị NgH’s wry divorcée looks back at her checkered romantic past, while Dương Nghiễm Mậu unfurls a hallucinatory reunion. Poets P.K., Pháp Hoan, and Nguyễn Hoàng Quyên suggest the vitality of the poetic scene in Vietnam today. Guest editors Nhã Thuyên and Kaitlin Rees contribute an illuminating introduction. Elsewhere we present writing on mourning and remembrance.

Presences, Ruins, Silences: Writing from Vietnam

Silence, among Vietnamese authors, seems to have become a compelling tradition.


Endless Universe

The passion and blind devotion are no longer. The ending is near.

(Un)contextualizing Underground Poetry: Reimagining a Critical Community

I don't want to put underground poetry into a concrete conflict with mainstream poetry.

A Chair on a Highway on a Rainy Afternoon

a chair standing by itself on a highway means its life is over


The Sitting Woman

I had just finished reading Francoise Sagan’s Bonjour Tristesse and he had imagined me as Odile from André Maurois’ Climats.


Dissonant music lingers in the bodiless ear of the present tense

From “Crossroads and Lampposts”

He said it was politics disguised as debauchery.

Somewhere Better Than This Place Nowhere Better Than This Place

We have found in the deterioration of flesh and bones a spiritual liberation


A Dream

Does he know I intend to murder him?


Book Reviews

“The April 3rd Incident” Showcases Yu Hua’s Daring and Unconventional Style

Reviewed by Andrew Hungate

This collection of early stories by the celebrated Chinese author shows a writer determined to make a name for himself in a literary world that at the time was rife with experimentation.

Atrocity at a Distance, Absurdity Up Close in Dubravka Ugresic’s “American Fictionary”

Reviewed by Jeff Tompkins

In this book of essays, Ugresic juxtaposes reflections on the fate of her country with observations on everyday life in America.

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