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July 2014

Migrant Labor

Image: Nikola Mihov, "Under Destruction," 2010

This month we present writing about migrant labor. Through official channels or underground networks, fleeing poverty or chasing dreams, the characters here leave their homelands in search of work and new lives, finding nothing is quite as they expected. Bulgarian journalist Martin Karbovski harvests cucumbers and comedy. Christos Ikonomou's sorrowful Greeks watch their world slip away. Journalist Wang Bang interviews Chinese prostitutes in a shadowy London, and Russian graphic artist Victoria Lomasko documents modern slavery in Moscow. Taleb Alrefai learns the hidden cost of a work permit. In Paris, Wilfried N'Sondé takes the temperature of a simmering banlieue. Vladimir Vertlib sees Russia recreated in Brighton Beach. Saud Alsanousi, the winner of the 2013 International Prize for Arabic Fiction, portrays a mixed-blood Kuwaiti victimized by that country's harsh immigration policies, while Bangladesh's Shahaduz Zaman's visa applicant endures medical tests and examines his own emotions. Mely Kiyak observes Turkish immigrants in Germany, and Juan Carlos Mestre mourns a worker who never returned. Elsewhere, Musharraf Ali Farooqi introduces and translates a group of Sindhi folk tales. 

Piece by Piece They’re Taking My World Away

I say we go. It can’t be worse than it is here.

Slaves of Moscow

Once there, they had been robbed of their passports and forced to work without pay for twenty hours a day.


He says that was the most ingenious smokescreen he’s ever seen in his life.

The Gold Watch

''The clock inside has no numbers, it has only memories.''

Me and Mycobacterium tuberculosis

"And that shadowy bit you see up there, that’s the thing that has me worried."

The Bamboo Stalk

“Do you know how many policemen’s numbers I have in my phone?”

Horsemeat of the Brothel

A “new girl” is always more desirable to the regular clients.

The Bed

"All decent Jews go to America."

Flowers in Concrete

The throng was slowly making for the two officers, a clash close at hand.

Poem to the One in Far-Off Lands

He works in order to return.

Bushrawi . . . Ranjini

Mus‘ad, my youngest son, is more than two years old, and I've never seen him.


Book Reviews

Guadalupe Nettel’s “Natural Histories”

Reviewed by Kristina Fazzalaro

In each of her five short stories, Nettel places humans under the microscope and examines them at their most fragile and desperate.

Vladimir Pozner’s “The Disunited States”

Reviewed by Scott Borchert

The result is a frenetic portrait of the United States that he assembles bit by bit, fragment by fragment.

Andrei Bitov’s “The Symmetry Teacher”

Reviewed by Lucy Jones

Andrei Bitov describes his book "The Symmetry Teacher" as a “novel-echo,” a palimpsest of a text which, as he explains in his preface, is his Russian “translation” of an obscure and untraceable English novel by a writer called A. Tired-Boffin.

Dorothy Tse’s “Snow and Shadow”

Reviewed by Camila M. Santos

Dorothy Tse’s third book, "Snow and Shadow," is a collection of surreal stories set in a fantastical version of Hong Kong.

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