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The Fantastic

December 2011

In this month’s main feature we travel into the realm of the fantastic, where routine situations turn surreal and the otherworldly becomes the norm. The journey begins on a bus with its own itinerary in Natsuki Ikezawa’s “Navidad Incident.” Serbian Ranko Trifkovic writes a cookbook for sprites, while French Surrealist Andre Pieyre de Mandiargues finds a man the size of a bug in a loaf the size of a mountain. Nazli Eray finds the complete guide to life in a Turkish bookshop. Urdu master Naiyer Masud’s wanderer confronts family history in a swirling dust storm. Slovenia’s Maja Novak visits a Scottish castle haunted by the Bosnian conflict. In Malta, Pierre Mejlak’s dreamy child creates her own universe.  And Manuel Miguel de Unamuno  sees a man witness his own death. 

In a more realistic vein, we present work from Iran. Mana Neyestani draws a cartoon and sets off a riot, Soheila Beski finds an immigrant clinging to the reflection of her past, and Elham Eshraghi leads a lamb from the slaughter.

In the first online installment of our World Through the Eyes of Writers column, in which established writers recommend new and emerging international authors, celebrated Chinese writer Can Xue introduces Zheng Xialou’s “Festival of Ghosts.”

The Navidad Incident: The Downfall of Matías Guili
By Natsuki Ikezawa
Right at the peak of the afternoon heat, a bus strolled into the local general store.
Translated from Japanese by Alfred Birnbaum
Orkish Cornbread
By Ranko Trifković
But remember, the cornstalks are so gigantic you’ll need the help of seasoned Goblin lumberjacks.
Translated from Serbian by the author
The Red Loaf
By André Pieyre de Mandiargues
I began the laborious ascent of the loaf.
Translated from French by Edward Gauvin
The Map
By Nazli Eray
It’s a General Map of Man with a special interpretation.
Translated from Turkish by Robert P. Finn
By Naiyer Masud
During the red and yellow storms I even went out and watched the landscape changing color.
Translated from Urdu by Muhammad Umar Memon
The Man Who Buried Himself
By Miguel de Unamuno
There are no words to express it in the language of men who die only once. 
Translated from Spanish by Emily Calderwood Davis
At Livia’s Bar
By Pierre Mejlak
Whenever she'd finish a city or an island, she would lift it in the air.
Translated from Maltese by Antoine Cassar
By Elham Eshraghi
Before he could reach for his abacus to add up the total, Tooba Khanum opened the folds of her chador to produce a rooster.
Translated from Persian by the author
The Festival of Ghosts
By Zheng Xiaolou
On the evening of the tenth day of the seventh lunar month, we “invited” all the ancestors to our home.
Translated from Chinese by Karen Gernant & Chen Zeping
The Ghosts are Schrödinger Cats
By Maja Novak
It wasn’t an accident that her head was not attached to her body.
Translated from Slovene by Nina Dolgan & Kristina Zdravič Reardon
December 2011 Fantastic Iranian Metamorphosis Mana Neyestani Feature
An Iranian Metamorphosis
By Mana Neyestani
Write why you drew that cartoon and why you chose a Turkish word.
Translated from Persian by Ghazal Mosadeq
The Mirror
By Soheila Beski
When the Bolsheviks took over, Tsar Nicholas summoned my father.
Translated from Persian by Assurbanipal Babilla
About the Young Writer Zheng Xialou
By Can Xue
Zheng Xiaolu, editor of a literary magazine, is only twenty-five years old. He was probably twenty-two when he wrote this story.Last year, he and another editor visited me to discuss how I arrange for…
Translated from Chinese by Karen Gernant & Chen Zeping