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Singular and Universal: Stories of Parents and Children

January 2018

Image: Eva Navarro, Mother and Son, 2014, acrylic on board, 40 X 40cm.

Image: Eva Navarro, Mother and Son, 2014, acrylic on board, 40 X 40cm.

This month we’re turning to our archives for international stories of parents and children. Tales of widowed fathers, ambivalent couples, vengeful mothers, and more reveal both the specific and universal challenges of raising children in complex times. Argentine sensation Samanta Schweblin finds an unexpected solution to an unplanned event. Iranian Kader Abdollah’s stoic father faces a parent’s worst fear. In two looks at fathers and daughters, Finland’s Shimo Suntila tracks a day in the life of a man and his two endlessly imaginative little girls, and Belgium’s Lize Spit watches an abandoned husband search for a cure for his toddler’s illness. Teresa Solana’s elderly widow cuts off her abusive son-in-law; Martha Batiz finds raising septuplets is not exactly seventh heaven. Charlotte-Arrisoa Rafenomanjato’s impoverished Malagasy widower struggles with his son’s innocent ambition. In Tibet under Mao, Pema Bhum’s disgraced party members are redeemed by their politically savvy infant. Syria’s Zaher Omareen relays history in a coded bedtime story. And in Brazil, Cristovão Tezza’s new father realizes his life truly never will be the same. 

Joyful, Painful, Surreal: Life As a Parent
By Karen M. Phillips
The intensity of the parent-child relationship, with its high emotional stakes, life-and-death responsibility, and inescapable physical proximity, makes for powerful stories.
By Samanta Schweblin
It’s difficult to accept the idea of receiving Teresita so soon, but I don’t want to hurt her, either.
Translated from Spanish by Joel Streicker
By Kader Abdolah
My father was born in one of those villages, and my brother lies buried in the mountains.
Translated from Dutch by Peter Constantine
By Shimo Suntila
“We needed some liquid gold,” Milla says very seriously.
Translated from Finnish by Liisa Rantalaiho
María Times Seven
By Martha Batiz
It was by accident that Doña Toña decided to sell her daughters’ tears.
Translated from Spanish by the author
Plastic Wrap
By Lize Spit
If she can’t see it, if it isn’t in the room, it doesn’t exist.
Translated from Dutch by David Doherty
A Stitch in Time
By Teresa Solana
As we were intending to cut him into small chunks, we thought it would be less stressful if he were bandaged.
Translated from Catalan by Peter Bush
A Bedtime Story for Eid
By Zaher Omareen
He said they’d taken Omar away naked.
Translated from Arabic by Alice Guthrie
From “The Eternal Son”
By Cristovão Tezza
The most brutal morning of his life started with interrupted sleep.
Translated from Portuguese by Alison Entrekin
By Pema Bhum
It seemed to them as if the Chairman were sharing with them a playful and secret sign.
Translated from Tibetan by Tenzin Dickie
Omeo Zamako
By Charlotte-Arrisoa Rafenomanjato
Lehilahy tells his son that he must work harder in order to succeed, that knowledge is not easily attained.
Translated from French by Sophie Lewis