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from At the Borderline
By Sherko Fatah
Set in the border triangle of Iran, Irak, and Turkey, Im Grenzland [At the Borderline] is the story of an Iraqi Kurd who makes his living as a smuggler. Having bought a map of landmines from a former…
Translated from German by Andrea Heyde
The Culture of Translation
Throughout medieval Europe Arabic had a far more powerful impact on the transformation and shaping of culture than most narratives of our history reveal. This was true not only in Spain, where Arabic…
Nothing but Iraq (March 29, 2003)
I remember as-Sayyab screaming into the Gulf in vain: Iraq, Iraq. Nothing but Iraq. And nothing but an echo replies I remember as-Sayyab, in that Sumerian space A woman triumphed over the sterility of…
Translated from Arabic
Completely Absentminded
By Mario Benedetti
He never considered himself an exiled politician. He abandoned his country out of a strange impulse that was forged in three stages. The first was when he was approached by four successive beggars on…
Translated from Spanish by Harry Morales
from Outcast
By Shimon Ballas
Dreams don’t come to us without being provoked externally, which is what happened to me yesterday when I woke up at five in the morning, precisely the hour I had intended to get up. I found myself…
Translated from Hebrew by Ammiel Alcalay
At Home in Exile: An Interview with Shimon Ballas
This interview appeared in slightly different form in Keys to the Garden: New Israeli Writing, edited and translated by Ammiel Alcalay (San Francisco: City Lights, 1996). Ammiel Alcalay: Starting with…
Translated from Arabic
from He’s Alive
By Kim Hong-ik
In this 1995 story, Bun-nyo is an elderly superintendent at a reservoir in the countryside. She devotes much of her time and effort to taking care of a flourishing flower garden that she has planted in…
Translated from Korean by Ha-yun Jung
Toba Tek Singh
By Saadat Hasan Manto
Two or three years after Partition, the governments of Pakistan and India decided to exchange lunatics in the same way that they had exchanged civilian prisoners.
Translated from Urdu by Richard McGill Murphy
from Hopes for Good Fortune
By Han Ung-bin
The narrator, a manager at a factory in the city, is sent on an urgent business trip to his wife’s hometown. As the hapless narrator sets out on his journey, his wife pressures him to visit his…
Translated from Korean by Ha-yun Jung
Playing Manto
I first encountered Saadat Hasan Manto by playing one of his characters. In 1994, I was doing fieldwork for an ethnographic thesis on social life in the Pakistani city of Lahore, where Manto lived, worked,…
Third Letter to Uncle Sam
By Saadat Hasan Manto
31 Laxmi Mansions Hall Road, Lahore15 March 1954Dear Uncle,Greetings,I write this after a long break. The fact is that I was ill. According to our poetic tradition, the treatment for illness lies in what…
Translated from Urdu by Khalid Hasan
from Friends on the Road
By Kim Byung-hun
This story, written in 1960, is narrated by a middle-aged party committee chairman in the countryside who encounters a young woman on the train, on his way back from an important regional meeting. The…
Translated from Korean by Ha-yun Jung
Berlin Bolero
By Ingo Schulze
“What a slimeball!” She pressed the glass against her cheek again. “And you go along with him. All this time you’ve been so stubborn. Then somebody like him comes along and . .…
Translated from German by Edna McCown
Second Encounter
By Han Ung-bin
This is a story about something that took place over ten years ago, during the 13th World Youth Festival. It is now Juche Year 88 (1999).1 Outside our window slogans on the street, visible everywhere,…
Translated from Korean by Stephen Epstein
How the Other Half Lives
After spending seven years in the U.S., I recently moved back to Seoul, the capitalist capital in the southern half of my divided country. When I arrived, both sides were preparing for the fiftieth anniversary…
Agony in the Kitchen
By Juan José Millás
Surveying the men near him to see which ones looked more athletically inclined, he selected the members of a prospective rescue party.
Translated from Spanish by Tobias Hecht
Encountering North Korean Fiction: The Origins of the Future
By Stephen Epstein
The new year is dawning. The thought that we are entering the last year of the current century arouses a different feeling within me than usual. My heart is overwhelmed with emotion and my thoughts come…
from The Shadowboxer
By Inka Parei
For the last week it’s been quiet in this side wing of what used to be a fashionable Jewish apartment block in Lehniner Strasse. We’re the last two inhabitants, she and I. A wing full of gloomy…
Translated from German
To Marina Tsvetaeva
Many a one has sunk in the abyss of horrid silence, and you among them, slender ghost whom I evoked with tools that are improbable, a little pile of grammars and of dictionaries, or now, with more urgency…
Iran in Theater
Last summer in New York, two Iranian theatre events cracked open a small window on a dramatically alien world. Each made its impact without benefit of a text that could be comprehended by the audience;…
Translated from English
By Ahmad Shamlou
And so we repeat the round / of night and day
Translated from Persian by Zara Houshmand
A couple at the tomb of the poet Hafez.
By Adam Jones. License: CC BY 2.0.
The Fish
By Ahmad Shamlou
I think my heart has never been / like this / so warm and red.
Translated from Persian by Zara Houshmand
from The Moon and the Leopard
By Bijan Mofid
Why should I give up the light that I've held?
Translated from Farsi by Zara Houshmand
from The Eighth Voyage of Sindbad
By Bahram Beyzaii
We are going to seek happiness for you and your children. All of us! Because one hand alone is useless. Are you ready?
Translated from Farsi by Zara Houshmand & Bella Warda
from Cuneiform
By Kader Abdolah
Hadjar bore seven children. Aga Akbar was the youngest, and he was born deaf and mute. She knew it even in the first month. She saw that he didn't react. But she didn't want to believe it. She…
Translated from Dutch by Sam Garrett
Freedom Can Be a Nightmare: An Interview with Kader Abdolah
This interview was originally published August 12, 1995, in NRC Handelsblad. A unique phenomenon in Dutch literature: Kader Abdolah, a political refugee from Iran who writes little gems of stories—in…
Translated from Dutch
from A Little Less Conversation
By Tirdad Zolghadr
To describe Tehran would be like spelling out a frenzied, hourlong dinner table discussion to a complete newcomer.
Translated from English
from Snow over Tehran
By Firouz Nadji-Ghazvini
“Your eyes are full of sadness, friend.”
Translated from Farsi by Zara Houshmand
from Borderlines–The Return
In the summer of 1947 the flight to Athens, Greece, from New York's Idlewild Airport-my first flight anywhere-involved many hours of idleness both in the air and on sometimes remote runways along…
An Empty Room
By MuXin
As the mountain crested its slope steepened. I was already sweating. A church appeared at the top of the crest. I thought I should rest there a bit before deciding when to descend. The war had just ended.…
Translated from Chinese by Toming Jun Liu