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June 2015

The Queer Issue VI

Image: William Murphy, Poster Campaign for the Thirty-fourth Amendment of the Constitution, 2015 Used with attribution—share alike creative commons 2.0

​This month we present the sixth installment of our annual Queer Issue. Connections are missed and made, families are rocked and communities are formed, and characters circle each other and the truth in prose and poetry from around the world. Sweden’s Ester Roxberg describes her father’s gender transition and her family’s subsequent transformation. Czech writer Zuzana Brabcová shows a woman leaving her husband to arrive at new understanding, and the Slovak Zuska Kepplová sets her troubled lovers on an idyllic beach at the end of Europe. Taiwan’s Chi Ta-wei puts Debussy’s famous pastoral to an urban narrative. Sylwia Chutnik’s garrulous apartment-dwelllers are fascinated by their “lady-man” neighbor. Giancarlo Pastore’s elusive florist and his smitten customer channel the Victorians to say it with flowers. Cameroon’s Max Lobe shows an immigrant mastering a louche Geneva. And in poetry, Pedro de Jesus sees the truth, and Dragoslava Barzut’s lesbian protagonist buries her parents and her past. Our special feature showcases Icelandic poetry, translated and introduced by 2015 PEN/Heim Translation Grant awardee Meg Matich.

Connections, Missed and Made: The Queer Issue

These are stirring notes as we launch our sixth annual Queer issue.


I’d never found the plant or flower that could serve as punctuation.

A Faun’s Afternoon

The hand of the pocket watch winds on with a sound like mocking laughter.


From “The Year of Pearls”




She laughed and calmly walked naked to the end of Europe.

If I could live on the vision without trying to say it

There is a false time / set in motion when we fall



How could anyone accuse Mr. Pawlikowski of something so awful?

From “The Memory of a Secret”

What do we know about our parents?

The Death of My Parents in the Village

Funeral paid for by the daughter, a lesbian.


The Avenging Whip

In my line of business, people don't talk much.


Book Reviews

Enrique Vila-Matas’s “The Illogic of Kassel”

Reviewed by Tristan Foster

Kassel is a work of chaos. On the surface, this is narrative by association, the aestheticization of the experience of confronting contemporary art, which inevitably includes the turning over of one’s ideas of what is and what isn’t art.

Urs Allemann’s “The Old Man and the Bench”

Reviewed by Anna Aslanyan

In following its own strict logic, Allemann’s fine-tuned absurdism evokes Beckett, who would feel equally at home in the old man's house, with its “bottle room” and “paper bag room,” and on his bench.

Horacio Castellanos Moya’s “The Dream of My Return”

Reviewed by Veronica Esposito

What is impressive about The Dream of My Return is how it manages to have it both ways: to treat the Freudian psyche like the cheap myth it is, but to also show that when push comes to shove, we will rely on it because we need it.

Jean-Philippe Toussaint’s “Urgency and Patience”

Reviewed by Jeffrey Zuckerman

Jean-Philippe Toussaint’s novellas astonish in how they allow us into the heads of his unexpectedly fascinating narrators. Appropriately enough, his slender essay collection, Urgency and Patience, take us just as deeply into the mind of this singular author.

Yuri Herrera’s “Signs Preceding the End of the World”

Reviewed by David Hebblethwaite

It’s a novel of thresholds and permeable borders, but it begins with holes: a sinkhole that forms as the protagonist, Makina, is watching, in a town “riddled with bullet holes and tunnels bored by five centuries of voracious silver lust.” This is an opening scene which fuses the upheavals of nature with human violence and greed, underlining the instability that runs throughout.

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