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

October 2012

Oil

Image: Per-Anders Pettersson, "Fighting Oil Fires In Kuwait," 1991. Courtesy of the artist and Getty Images.

This month we explore the role of oil in the international landscape. Oil transforms nations, links disparate political and social ideologies, breeds conflict, and drives governmental and corporate policy; our writers show how this force, both blessing and curse, shapes lives and literature around the world. We begin with an essay by political scientist Michael L. Ross connecting oil wealth and national development. Russian Booker nominee and award-winning short-story writer Alexander Snegiryov presents the (show) business of oil in Russia. In two graphic pieces, Lebanon's Mazen Kerbaj mourns what's left of his pillaged country, and Italy's Davide Reviati grows up in the shadow of Ravenna's ominous petrochemical plant. Translator Peter Theroux shows how Abdelrahman Munif's great Cities of Salt runs on oil. Afrikaans star Etienne van Heerden's solitary South African experiences hydrofracking firsthand, while science fiction writer Andreas Eschbach's stolid loner taps a sixth sense for oil. In two tales of oil workers, Argentina's María Sonia Cristoff and Germany's Anja Kampmann explore solitude, madness, and other occupational hazards. And poet Stephen E. Kekeghe protests the draining of Nigeria. 

In our second feature, Maaza Mengiste, author of Beneath the Lion's Gaze, introduces three pieces connecting Ethiopia and Italy. Italo-Ethiopian novelist Gabriella Ghermandi returns to her homeland to honor her father, graphic novelist Paolo Castaldi tracks a tragic emigration, and poet Surafel Wondimu curses the gods.

feature

Book Reviews

Alessandro Piperno’s “Persecution”

Reviewed by Emma Garman

"Persecution," the title of Alessandro Piperno’s scorchingly ambitious second novel, is not a straightforward label for the catastrophe that befalls the protagonist, Leo Pontecorvo.

Recent Issues

Rewriting Caste: Dalit Literature in Hindi

The Past in the Present: Writing from Georgia

Crucible of Languages and Cultures: Writing from Macau

Turning the Kaleidoscope: Writing from Lebanon

The Queer Issue IX

The World through the Eyes of Writers: Celebrating Fifteen Years

Several Worlds Simultaneously: Seeking Argentina

Charged with Humanity: Six Hungarian Women Writers

Like what you read? Help WWB bring you the best new writing from around the world.