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April 2018

Several Worlds Simultaneously: Seeking Argentina

Image: Fernando O’Connor, “El Lector”/“The Reader” (detail), 2017, oil and charcoal on canvas, 220 X 170cm. By arrangement with the artist.

Our April issue features five writers who share—much more than, and perhaps in place of, any sense of national identity—a common commitment to searching and seeking out. Each of these writers seeks something different, but all of them grapple with myths: about identity, place, and relationships to others. Two contributors, Sara Gallardo and Norah Lange, appear here with selections from the first book-length English-language translations of their fiction. In a short story from her forthcoming collection, Gallardo presents a retiree and gardener who finds himself at sea in every sense of the term.  And avant-garde writer Lange—who, along with Borges and her husband, poet Oliverio Girondo, formed part of the influential Florida group in the 1920s and ’30s—observes a woman spying on, then becoming involved with, her neighbors in an excerpt from her forthcoming People in the Room. In an homage to one of the greats, Sergio Chejfec sends an essayist, a novelist, and a theologian on a pilgrimage through Père Lachaise after Juan José Saer, the literary giant who died in Paris in 2005. Taking the reader on a literary tour of Buenos Aires, pivotal literary and cultural critic Beatriz Sarlo deconstructs the myth that the city is the Paris of South America, while Marcelo Cohen reflects back on decades as a translator in Spain and the complex relationship between translation, exile, and identity.

Our feature includes writing by three Estonian writers, with an introduction by Adam Cullen.


Book Reviews

Julián Herbert Watches Over His Dying Mother and Casts a Sharp Eye on Mexico in “Tomb Song”

Reviewed by Ángel Gurría-Quintana

In "Tomb Song", Julián Herbert combines a visceral lament about his mother's death from leukaemia with a scathing portrayal of Mexican society. The book’s title plays on the Spanish expression for a lullaby – a cradle song. Except that here the narrator – also named Julián Herbert – is keeping vigil over his dying mother in a hospital room in the north-eastern Mexican city of Saltillo, and writing the book as a way of finding comfort while coming to terms with her life.

“My Little Small,” by Ulf Stark and Linda Bondestam, Tells a Sweet Fable with Philosophical Musings

Reviewed by Mary Ann Scheuer

Ulf Stark and Linda Bondestam’s sweetly eccentric picture book "My Little Small" tells the story of a creature who lives alone in a cave until she befriends a sun spark. On the surface, it’s a story of finding a small friend to care for. Dig a little deeper, and Stark’s philosophical ruminations come through.

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The Slow Burn of Inner Chaos: Writing from Malaysia

Backstories: Afro-Italian Women Writers

The Queer Issue XII

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