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April 2012


If love makes the world go 'round, sex is what keeps it spinning, and this month we're reeling with writing on this most universal of themes. In these stories sex is both subject and object, cause and effect.  See how Fatima al-Ali, Nadine Bismuth, Rubem Fonseca, Mar Gómez Glez, Eduardo Halfon, Fernando Iwasaki, Hanoch Levin, Giulio Mozzi, Felix Palma, Adrian Sangeorzan, Care Santos, and Sebastiano Vassalli address the facts (and fictions) of life. We trust you'll be seduced. Elsewhere, we present Chinese writers Zhu Wen and Xu Zechen, and the second installment of Sakumi Tayama's “Hole in the Garden.”

Throwing Out the Baby
By Xu Zechen
The frog was leaping away but we were closing in on both sides, running along bent over, our eyes fixed on its yellow-green back, the mud  squishing under our feet. There had just been a cloudburst…
Translated from Chinese by Nicky Harman
Beyond this Darkness and this Silence
By Care Santos
  The world has become aware of its invisible citizen. But no one knows you are here. —H. G. Wells   I warned her in one of our first conversations, though she didn’t take me seriously:…
Translated from Spanish by Christina MacSweeney
By Giulio Mozzi
The rain began that morning. Tana was coming home from school. Thursday afternoons they had sewing class, and now on the bus, she realized this was the first day she'd left school in the dark. It…
Translated from Italian by Elizabeth Harris
To Troy, Helen
By Fernando Iwasaki
                         The two lay down together on the bed. Atreus's son paced through the crowd, like a wild beast, searching for…
Translated from Spanish by Jeremy Osner
The Hunchback and Botticelli’s Venus
By Rubem Fonseca
Fluttering locks of reddish hair whipped by the wind and rain, smooth and radiant skin, she is Botticelli’s Venus walking down the street. (The one in the Uffizi, born from a seashell, not the one…
Translated from Portuguese by Clifford E. Landers
The Ringing Body
By Fatima Yousef al-Ali
She always recognized them by the  trembling behind their bravado. From his first “Hello” she was certain  he wasn’t one of them . . . that he had meant to call her, in particular.…
Translated from Arabic by William Maynard Hutchins
By Sebastiano Vassalli
I’m thirty-nine. I’m a chemist, graduate of the university of ****. For the last twelve years I’ve been working as a lab technician for a pharmaceutical company. Practically speaking,…
Translated from Italian by Gregory Conti
Good Women and Bad Women
By Eduardo Halfon
We never discovered how they found us out. My brother insisted that Márgara had stumbled across them accidentally while she was putting clean sheets on the bed, and that she had squealed on us.…
Translated from Spanish by Daniel Hahn
The Bicycle Factory
By Adrian Sângeorzan
In 1966, Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu issued Decree 770, criminalizing abortion. After that, women found their own ways to end unwanted pregnancies, no matter the risk. With money and contacts,…
Translated from Romanian by Jean Harris
By Hanoch Levin
After the intermission, when they prepped the audience and warmed them up with an acrobatic display, clowns, and other supporting acts, the second part began, the main one, the part with the adored women.…
Translated from Hebrew by Atar Hadari
The Sex Life of the Writer
By Nadine Bismuth
Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. —Ernest Hemingway   A friend recently lent us a book called The Sex Life of Immanuel Kant.1  Its author,  one Jean-Baptiste Botul, examines…
Translated from French by Alison Strayer
The Hole in the Garden, Part II
By Sakumi Tayama
The woman showed up exactly one month to the day after the pigʼs arrival. I had just finished cleaning the house and was thinking about feeding the pig before I started waxing the floors when the…
Translated from Japanese by Mark Gibeau
By Félix J. Palma
To Juan Bonilla, who endured the first part of this storyI can’t see it from the terrace, so I don’t know how big it is, or what color. The only thing I know is that every night, perched up…
Translated from Spanish by Nick Caistor & Amanda Hopkinson