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Literary

22

Dignified Kiss of Paris Streets by Bae Suah

Translated by Deborah Smith

It began in Mao’s room. Hazy, formless, faint things, things that were neither light nor shade, yet at the same time the illegitimate children of both, a moment of glittering black and dark…

Belladonna by Daša Drndic

Translated by Celia Hawkesworth

On Saturday, November 19, 2002, sixty people incarcerated in a camp for illegal immigrants sew their lips together. Sixty people with their lips sewn reel around the camp, gazing at the sky. Small muddy stray dogs scamper after them, yapping shrilly. The authorities keep assiduously postponing consideration of their applications for leave to remain.

New York to Manchuria

By Christopher Impiglia

For my great-grandparents, as it was for most immigrants of their generation, the past was a hindrance. It was all about the future. A new life with new appliances and new cars and new names. Nothing old, as the old carried with it the weight of oppressive regimes, poverty, and social immobility.

Paper Cuts by Matea Šimić

Translated by Mirza Purić

The smell of apple cider vinegar pervades the room, starting from the clean, warm window panes, making its way into the perfectly tightened coverlet on the bed, the freshly brushed carpet, and one suitcase.

Invisible Bumps by Rachael Maddux

By Rachael Maddux

At the Pawleys Island General Store, I bought a postcard of a ghost. He stood atop a dune in a wide-brimmed hat and overcoat, one arm raised towards the ocean, his body half-disappeared into the overcast sky. Some stories held that the Gray Man was the ghost of a colonial man who had been thrown from his horse and drowned in the marsh.

Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck

Translated by Susan Bernofsky

One Thursday in late August, ten men gather in front of Berlin’s Town Hall. According to news reports, they’ve decided to stop eating. Three days later they decide to stop drinking too. Their skin is black. They speak English, French, Italian, as well as other languages that no one here understands. What do these men want? They are asking for work. They want to support themselves by working.

The Endless Summer by Madame Nielsen

Translated by Gaye Kynoch

The days and weeks in Lisbon, the clear, higher, harder light out here by the coast, the slightly forsaken haziness of the city, a forgotten region of outermost Europe, the sound of the street-cleaning trucks advancing slowly through the streets behind Praça do Rossio in the last hour before daybreak, like big beetles snorting hoarsely in the dust of the strangely quiet city…

A Fact of Survival

By Mina Hamedi

I saw him walking, black hair in knots and a bottle with the cap open held by his side. Leaning over the top, he brought his bottle, took a sip and stared at us.

Four Poems

By Chris Blackman

Hope is but a greeting card, it occurs to me,
while in a cab barreling across the Triborough Bridge
and it might be important enough to get this maxim
tattooed on my neck in case I forget this simple truth
and lest ideas otherwise become more obtrusive,
more incessant, but these are just the ugly thoughts
to which I am chemically prone, when I’m feeling morbid—

Prague-Berlin Train by Stacy Mattingly

By Stacy Mattingly

We’d already shown our passports at the border—it was still Czechoslovakia-Germany then. We’d kept the lights on in our compartment, waiting for the guard. Drab uniform. Angular face. Documents, he’d said. The Cold War was basically dead. Still, I could imagine.

Five Poems

By Michael Juliani

As the fishermen strangle cod
out on the wet docks our refrigerator arrives
and today is a warm sleeved gust
passing through the afternoon
a somnolent incident of pleasure

My Father’s Eye

By Theophilus Kwek

Now that we live in the same house, it sits on a glass shelf in the hallway, a dark lens winking when the lights come on. A cataract of dust, invisible except at certain angles…

Collision by Merle Kröger

Translated by Rachel Hildebrandt and Alexandra Roesch

White swathes of steam float across the deck. It wreaks. Someone has puked into the swimming pool, and fibrous chunks float on the surface. Leg of duck in a truffle reduction—the Chef’s daily special. As though in slow motion, the girl straightens up, staggers away, reeling between stacks of deck chairs and disappears into the haze.

The Lighthouse by Alison Moore

By Alison Moore

He is not in the bedroom. She can hear the shower running in the bathroom, can hear him singing in there. She would prefer not to have to talk to this man who keeps calling her Ester as if he knows her. She is still annoyed with him for being so late and not even apologizing. She is obliged to feed the man – she wants to feed him, she always wants to feed men – but she would be pleased to get away without having to engage with him.

Moonbath by Yanick Lahens

Translated by Emily Gogolak

The elusive gazes of the men, the slightly aghast looks from the women, upon the arrival of this rider, all to suggest that he was a dreadful and dreaded being.

Hladno by Marina Alagić-Bowder

By Marina Alagić-Bowder

The March sunshine is clear as a bell, but there’s a bitter edge to the glassy Adriatic waters. Matt and I follow the children down to the shore to watch them dip their toes and scream, “Hladno-o-o!” The initial H adds to the shivering.

Three Poems by Zhu Zhu

Translated by Dong Li 

days are placid, like an olive grove
spread upon the slopes, not
too many high rises, not too much dust
or too many nouveau-riche neighbors;

City of Ulysses by Teolinda Gersão

Translated by Jethro Soutar and Annie McDermott

You would’ve come home and told me all about it, filled with enthusiasm and doubtless in fits of laughter. If the conversation had ever taken place.

Tangle by Kulović Selma

Translated by Mirza Purić

All the pain we inflicted on our mother began with our birth. We hurt her when we were being born, and we hurt her by being born. Why people come uninvited, she never understood. She invited her first husband into her life. Me she didn’t invite.

Miss Burma by Charmaine Craig

By Charmaine Craig

Khin had seen him before, the young officer. She had noticed his hands, strong and clenched by his sides, and the restless way he charged from one end of the seaport to the other.

Salki by Wojciech Nowicki

Translated by Jan Pytalski

The city was rebuilt to restore its previous look, sometimes down to exact details, following a naive belief that that would turn it back into what it used to be before the war. It was an exercise in fidelity without purpose, an empty gesture of men in love with history.

Four Poems by Anita Pajević

Translated by Mirza Purić

for breakfast I’ve had
a small coniferous forest
and in it a squirrel
I pressed him on a serviette
stored him between two leaves of newspaper

Three Poems by Mária Ferenčuhová

Translated by James Sutherland-Smith

Crystals grown too quickly to champ with teeth
scratch throat. with narrow fingers across
canvas voiceless retrace twists and turns.

Lessons From the Darkness by Helena Janeczek

Translated by Frederika Randall

They caught her because she made a mistake. For months she had sailed right through their nets with her false passport, her bleached hair, her little heart-shaped medal reworked as a cross, her Polish spoken like a Pole and even her school-taught German spoken badly as only the Poles in Slesia did.

The Communist by Guido Morselli

Translated by Frederika Randall

He didn’t want to drop dead in that room. In the dark. Alone, without a helping hand: it was pure misery. The sound of his breathing did not seem to be him, but a machine.

Six Poems by Daniela Danz

Translated by Monika Cassel

The linden tree has lost all its leaves
and nothing is left of the summer but
the wish to stroke old Germany’s
head one more time

Seeing People Off by Jana Beňová

Translated by Janet Livingstone

The river draws closer and closer to the stream of gawking people. They jump onto the sandbags so they can see themselves in it. And at night they dream dreams on the shore. Dreams in which clouds of dust whirl behind herds of galloping animals.

Two poems by Julia Fiedorczuk

Translated by Bill Johnston

I’d like to say—to her, to both of them—
let’s lie down beneath the grass, lie in the shade
of dried-out ships, let matters of fate be left
to those plane trees, I’d like to say, look over there!

The Teeth of the Comb & Other Stories by Osama Alomar

Translated by C.J. Collins

I took the big bag that I had inherited from my grandfather down from the attic. It was brightly colored like a storm of rainbows. I hoisted it onto my back and went out into the street. I closed my eyes and began to choose samples at random from everything that was inside: humans and stones and dust and flowers and wind and the past and the present and the future.

Two Poems by Miodrag Stanisavljević

Translated by Mirza Purić

My beautiful triune people, you’re fairest
in the morning when you gush forth
from your colon-colonies
and your public transport vans
– thank you.

Celestine by Olga Ravn

Translated by Sherilyn Hellberg

The face, the voice, the hands press against the wall. Celestine up in the south-facing attic, in front of the stained mirror—and there is also a dried wreath there. In the darkness inside the wall, a glimpse of Celestine’s eyes. In one eye a nettle grows. The forest around the castle sparkled like silver, carrying Celestine’s name within it. She is furious; she hunts down the guests at the hotel when they sleep. She slides down the corridors. She licks their faces. She licks the sleep out of their eyes. She cries no no when the wall closes in on her.

Wolf Hunt by Ivailo Petrov

Translated by Angela Rodel

I’ll try to introduce to you the six hunters individually and I’ll start with him, since he was the reason they set off in that miserable weather to track wolves.

Three Poems by Anja Marković

Translated by Mirza Purić

You’re always on the edge between two chasms, cradle-ladles,
as your limping legs laze on the wall.
There are wider spaces in you, their evening chill
callously presses your palms
as if to pierce your insides, spill into the night,
into the rivers above the roofs, into the rotten orchards of the sky.

Three Poems by Wioletta Greg

Translated by Eliza Marciniak

Cold surfaces of mirrors stubbornly hold their form.
Beyond the looking-glass, atoms have combined
into impenetrable worlds.
I found warm newborns in the rabbit-hole.

Two Poems by Selma Asotić

Translated by Mirza Purić

When we wet the bed
for three nights in a row
they put a shroud
over our heads
and brought the lead
to our eyes

Two Poems by Lidija Deduš

Translated by Mirza Purić

I’ve got all the necessary qualifications to become stateless I’ve got
an expired passport of a state which no longer exists and a birth certificate
from a city in a country no one will recognise

Two Poems by Darko Cvijetić

Translated by Mirza Purić

Says
All things
When you lay them
One across the other
Make a cross
Only a man
Dropped as a perpendicular
Onto another man

Frontier by Can Xue

Translated by Karen Gernant & Chen Zeping

Nights on the riverbank were terrifying: it was as if the violent wind would blow the boxes into the river at any moment. Mixed with this strong wind were many howling wolves.

The Magician of Vienna by Sergio Pitol

Translated by George Henson

I was in Vienna this year, after a twelve-year absence. My arrival coincided with a mass rally of three hundred thousand people who protested against the return of Nazism to the country, precisely in Heroes’ Square, the same one where one million Austrians frenziedly cheered Hitler.

The White City by Karolina Ramqvist

Translated by Saskia Vogel

Her fatigue was bright and jagged. It rained down on her, dispersing her thoughts until they were but white noise. She had no idea how long she’d slept last night.

The Night So Long by Marjorie Agosín

By Marjorie Agosín

Suddenly,
That night became longer still.
Around us the silence turned dark as well,
An opaque hue of gray without blue.
Bewildered girls asked what had happened.
All their mothers knew to do was play with their disheveled hair.

Leonora Carrington EuropeNow

Down Below by Leonora Carrington

By Leonora Carrington

Various events were taking place in the outside world: the collapse of Belgium, the entry of the Germans in France. All of this interested me very little and I had no fear whatsoever.

Radiant Terminus by Antoine Volodine

Translated by Jeffrey Zuckerman

Mudugan was a typical village of thieves, built in the middle of the forest in a gap that barely deserved to be called a clearing, so tightly did the trees encircle the log houses. There weren’t any paths that had been marked to get there and it was inaccessible to anyone who didn’t know exactly where the ravines and undergrowth were. That was where Umrug Batyushin learned to live his life as a self-sufficient child, there where he learned to shoot rifles, to carve up elk, and endure cold and hardship, as well as bear the howling of the wolves…

Merman by Tea Tulić

Translated by Mirza Purić

My husband is burly, and when he walks, it’s as if his steps are yawning. He stumbles over me as if over a pet. I sometimes hide behind a tree and wait for him to turn around. Or leave. If we’re going to a birthday party, I’m the one who wraps and carries the present. If he’s had a lot of wine, the room takes on a smell which makes me put on my shoes and walk up and down the street.

Three poems by Maximilian Voloshin

Translated by Masha Udensiva-Brenner

I want to scream something
Into its dark, open jaws,
To bring my ear to it,
Press up against it with my tremulous heart.

Volatile Texts: Us Two by Zsuzsanna Gahse

Translated by Chenxin Jiang

Europe is disintegrating, the old lady is falling apart. She recently appeared at the Museum Festival with a terrible heap of jewelry around her neck; she’d just dyed her hair blond; above her fake gold necklace hung her wretched, worn face, and then she laughed, walked up to the bar, embraced a tall young man and kiss him artfully.

The Life-Writer by David Constantine

By David Constantine

During the funeral, and after it when the mourners came back to her house, Katrin continued in the almost rapturous state she had been lifted into by the last hours of Eric’s life. It was over, accomplished, her strength had sufficed. And now meticulously she would attend in every detail to every thing that needed to be done. She allowed advice, but followed it her way; help, but she directed it. She accepted condolences, and herself extended them to whoever had been saddened by Eric’s death.

What Are the Blind Men Dreaming? by Noemi Jaffe

Translated by Julia Sanches

She continues to divine the future—more so than the past, which she has almost completely forgotten. She has herself turned into Linka, the gypsy from Debrecen. Her Jewishness is a mixture of faith and superstition; a religion she has partly invented herself.

Berlin-Hamlet by Szilárd Borbély

Translated by Ottilie Mulzet

At the time I had no answering machine, so
I couldn’t call myself. Ludicrous, perhaps,
even morbid, how secure it made me feel to know
at any time I could hear my own voice. There is a voice, however
mechanical, which is mine.

Pianist’s Fingers by Berta García Faet

Translated by Kelsi Vanada

love’s cry lingers incomplete like a half-articulated sneeze love is a half-sneeze cut off by another sneeze creaking a reflex scandalously i rest my skull on your sweet skull a phonograph before the sonata in C major accentuates and duplicates the cravings and increases wellbeing and exists

Memoirs of a Polar Bear by Yoko Tawada

Translated by Susan Bernofsky

As soon as he entered the sleepers’ realm, the air around him grew sharply colder, with glittering silvery particles of light falling all around him. He watched the miniature flakes floating, they danced, liberated from gravity, yet still went on falling: falling ever farther until at last they alighted on the frozen earth and disappeared.

Of Darkness by Josefine Klougart

Translated by Martin Aitken

We come no closer, only the opposite—we are moving away. Moving backwards, losing the pores of the woman’s skin, we lose the pores, the fair down of her upper lip that you discovered, the lines of her skin reminding you of some other age—youth, funnily enough, that couldn’t quite be placed.