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September 2021

The Slow Burn of Inner Chaos: Writing from Malaysia

Image: Chang Yoong Chia, Don't Spread Rumors—Study I, 2012, postage stamps and polyvinyl acetate glue (collage).

Our September 2021 issue features six writers whose work across four languages represents the cultural and linguistic breadth of contemporary Malaysian society. "Life in Malaysia," guest editors Pauline Fan and Adriana Nordin Manan write, "is enriching, infuriating, and full of inner contradictions." In verse and in prose, the writers featured here head straight into this maelstrom. From Jack Malik and T. Alias Taib, poets who take us from the ethereal to the terrestrial, to writers like Fatimah Busu, M. Navin, Alis Padasian, and Ho Fok Song—who provide unfliching portrayals of racism, poverty, and patriarchy, as well as a sensational story of pop singer-cum-ax-wielding assassin Mona Fandey—this month's contributors do not shy away from their society's contradictions. Stay tuned later this month for work from the winners of the 2021 Words Without Borders–Academy of American Poets Poems in Translation Contest and our celebration of the PEN Centennial.

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Book Reviews

“Psychedelic,” “Profound,” “a Feminist Classic”: Magda Cârneci’s “FEM” Challenges Definitions

Reviewed by Jozefina Komporaly

Blurring genre boundaries, Cârneci's debut novel brings to life a mesmerizing landscape of female desire and frustration. As the fragmented yet captivating narrative examines the twin subjects of love and loss, readers are confronted with the ultimate feminist agenda of a woman’s right to choose, together with the numerous hurdles and dilemmas associated with it

“Last Summer in the City,” Gianfranco Calligarich’s Ode to a Long-Gone Lifestyle, Hits a False Note

Reviewed by Allison Grimaldi-Donahue

Set in a deserted Rome during a hot and melancholy August, this 1973 novel now touted as a classic rehashes a familiar theme within Italian literature and film: a country and art of malaise. At turns beautiful and frustrating, it ultimately feels like a pastiche of the works it attempts to keep company with.

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The Slow Burn of Inner Chaos: Writing from Malaysia

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