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On the Road: International Writing on Travel

January 2020

Image: David Thuku, “Untitled XI (Motion),” paper cuts on paper, 2019, One Off Gallery, Nairobi. Courtesy of One Off Gallery and the artist.

This month we’ve traveled back in time and through our archives to bring you compelling international tales of journeys. Writers from nine countries document their own trips or send characters on their ways to destinations ranging from Corsican cemeteries to Indian train stations. W. G. Sebald climbs to a ruined graveyard and meditates on death and remembrance. Witold Gombrowicz embarks on a dyspeptic turn through Argentina, while Gabriela Wiener takes multiple sorts of trips. György Dragomán dispatches a desperate couple on a new form of transit. Subodh Ghosh and Peter Weber find dramatic surprises in train stations. Laila Stien tracks a seasonal migration turned tragic, while cartoonist Liniers records a cheerful car trip through Eastern Canada. And Gabriella Ghermandi’s harried narrator discovers she can go home again. 

Road Stories: International Writing on Travel
By Susan Harris
Some of the writers here document their own trips, while others invent characters and send them on the road.
Campo Santo
By W. G. Sebald
The dead were thought of as extremely touchy, envious, vengeful, quarrelsome, and cunning.
Translated from German by Anthea Bell
A Trip through Ayahuasca
By Gabriela Wiener
It is said after the vomiting comes the visions. I wasn’t seeing anything yet.
Translated from Spanish by Lucas Aznar Miles
Two reindeer on a rocky ledge with a body of water behind them
Photo by Jørgen Håland on Unsplash
Journey toward the Island
By Laila Stien
Norway’s Laila Stien tracks a group of Sámi herders guiding their reindeer on the seasonal migration to the north, fighting obstacles both natural and man-made.
Translated from Norwegian by Kerri Pierce
from “Peregrinations in Argentina”
By Witold Gombrowicz
At first we feel hatred toward other tourists—but eventually we begin to hate the tourist in us.
Translated from Polish by Danuta Borchardt
By György Dragomán
“The bears are tame, I broke them in myself.”
Translated from Hungarian by Paul Olchváry
The House of Wax
By Subodh Ghosh
“Have you been able to forget me?”
Translated from Bengali by Somrita Ganguly
Fish Television
By Peter Weber
I was clouds transforming, a sinking billow.
Translated from German by Anne Posten
The Neighborhood Phone
By Gabriella Ghermandi
For seventeen years I had dreamed of what my return to my country would be like.
Translated from Italian by Giovanna Bellesia-Contuzzi & Victoria Offredi Poletto