This month, we bring you writing from five Omani writers who, as guest editors Ghayde Ghraowi and Ahd Niazy write, “engage with the precariousness of identity, how our settled selves are always under threat from without and within.” Man Booker International winners Jokha Alharthi and Marilyn Booth bring us a tale of a young Omani woman who finds herself grappling with her grandmother’s troubled past and the personal dilemmas of her fellow international students in London. Badriya al-Badri follows a transgender narrator through a kaleidoscope of memories and personal crises, while Aisha al-Saifi crafts a poetic response to the loss of father and country. Reem Allawati seeks to commit the ineffable to the page, while Abdulaziz al-Omairi's poetic engagement with the Classical Arabic tradition teeters between wistfulness and vengeance. In their striking range, these pieces offer modes of reconsidering what we think we know about not only Oman but also the uses of literature.
Our special feature, guest edited by Rachel Cordasco, presents speculative microfiction from Italy.
Unsettled: New Writing from Oman
Unsettlement, a lack of centeredness, manifests itself throughout each of the works in this issue.
I forget the fingers. I forget the medications. Then . . . one night, any night, I’ll see her in a dream.
Like Any Messiah Taken Unaware by Death
Death is colder than a cup of water on my body, and/ Fonder to me than sand
Its scent is like infirmity, / This soul
I huddled in sorrow beside the warmth of my wound.
The Shadow of Hermaphroditus
Nothing can force me to go on living beneath Hermaphroditus’s long shadow—one half wearing the other, half a woman leaning on half a man.
Reviewed by Anjie Zheng
From sharp-edged social criticism to extravagant and alluring imagery, this collection of short-stories displays the wide range of the genre in contemporary China