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Fiction

22

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.