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April 2009

PEN World Voices

The always-fabulous PEN World Voices Festival launches its fifth annual celebration of global literature at the end of this month, and we're kicking off the party with a sampler of new writing from a selection of the participants. Through narratives grounded in biblical definitions of love and classic Arabic erotic literature, in alphabetical order and mental chaos, writers explore topics local and universal. See how Bernardo Atxaga, Enrique Vila-Matas, Salwa Al Neimi, Meir Shalev, Adrian Tomine, and Paul Verhaeghen create their own worlds in strikingly varied voices. And if you're in New York, do join Words without Borders for our special PEN World Voices event: Saturday, May 2 at 4:30 pm, Revolutionary Writers with Yoshihiro Tatsumi and Adrian Tomine.

Image copyright Stephanie Han Windham

A Surprising Tale in the Form of an Alphabet
By Bernardo Atxaga
They say that the monks of eight or nine hundred centuries ago often had to face unenthusiastic, occasionally hostile audiences, who were most reluctant to follow the steps of a theological proof or of…
Translated from Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa
Once Again Love
By Shaheen Akhtar
“Cops on our tail, cops on our tail!”“Cut and run, cut and run!”The picnic party microbus is stuck in a traffic jam. Before anyone can react, a hijra— separated from her band which…
Translated from Bengali by Mahmud Rahman
Three Fables
By Paul Verhaeghen
The Tiny BonesShe wrote the perfect sentence. It was not crafted; it tumbled freely from the heavens, straight into her head. She didn't do anything. She just sat. And there it was, then, fully formed.…
Translated from Dutch by Paul Verhaeghen
East End
By Enrique Vila-Matas
Bel has rented the only David Cronenberg film I haven't seen. It's about “the breakdown of communication between a loner and an inhospitable world.” In the first scene, young Spider,…
Translated from Spanish by Samantha Schnee
The Masseuse and Her Adulterous Husband
By Salwa Al Neimi
The first time I saw her, I failed to notice her beauty.I met her at the spa. The receptionist led me to her but, in her presence, she kept her eyes lowered. With a sure and certain step, she walked ahead…
Translated from Arabic by Carol Perkins