​This month we present writing from Guatemala. With contributors ranging from the master Rodrigo Rey Rosa to the rising young Rodrigo Fuentes, the prose in this issue offers a taste of this country’s little-known literature. Parent-child relationships drive many of the narratives here, as Rodrigo Rey Rosa’s frantic father searches for his disappeared toddler, Denise Phé-Funchal’s young girl tries to win the heart of her resentful mother, and Rodrigo Fuentes’s wary adult son is drawn into his mother’s remarriage to a haunted man. Mildred Hernández reveals the violence seething just under the surface of a couple’s home and marriage. Luis de Lion’s witty narrative monkeys around with politics. Dante Liano exposes the shocking truth behind a woman’s innocent pose. Carol Zardetto’s dreamy narrator returns to Guatemala and her previous life. And David Unger, winner of this year’s Miguel Ángel Asturias National Prize for Literature, finds the best way to confront his country’s history of corruption is through fiction. We thank our guest editor, WWB favorite Eduardo Halfon, for his assistance with the issue.

Elsewhere, Alice Guthrie introduces writing from Syria. Alice interviews poet Mohamed Raouf Bachir, who takes a sorrowful inventory; Zaher Omareen finds a lullaby in a story of mistaken identity and loss; and Rasha Abbas observes the onset of madness.

We gratefully acknowledge the support of The Milton and Beatrice Wind Foundation.




New Writing from Syria



I Am a Refugee

When they torched my poems they burned me along with them


A Bedtime Story for Eid

He said they’d taken Omar away naked.




Book Reviews

Ernst Meister’s “Wallless Space”

What happens when a “piteously naked” philosopher-turned-poet decides to pursue philosophy in the form of verse?


David Albahari’s “Globetrotter”

This sense of absence pervades the characters’ ideas of national identity — all of them are personally defined by things they lacked in their pasts, either symbolically, literally, or both.


Antal Szerb’s “Journey by Moonlight”

This phantasmal, complex novel of ideas takes place in a “wild, precipitous landscape”


Venedikt Erofeev’s “Walpurgis Night”

Current events can make us wonder: In times of tremendous violence, do literary questions and conflicts matter at all?


Some Other Zoo

I explained at the top of my voice that my daughter had disappeared.

Amir

His father had just been taken down from the branch of a ceiba tree.

Paranoid City

Inside the trunk was another lifeless body.

from “With Absolute Passion”

I go in and out of memories as one fighting to stay awake.

The Ape

“He really looks like his monkey, doesn’t he?”

Raspberries

Papá’s words have a dry smell, as dry as the skin on his lips.