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Migrant Labor

July 2014

july-2014-under-destruction-nikola-mihov
Image: Nikola Mihov, "Under Destruction," 2010

Image: Nikola Mihov, “Under Destruction,” 2010


This month we present writing about migrant labor. Through official channels or underground networks, fleeing poverty or chasing dreams, the characters here leave their homelands in search of work and new lives, finding nothing is quite as they expected. Bulgarian journalist Martin Karbovski harvests cucumbers and comedy. Christos Ikonomou’s sorrowful Greeks watch their world slip away. Journalist Wang Bang interviews Chinese prostitutes in a shadowy London, and Russian graphic artist Victoria Lomasko documents modern slavery in Moscow. Taleb Alrefai learns the hidden cost of a work permit. In Paris, Wilfried N’Sondé takes the temperature of a simmering banlieue. Vladimir Vertlib sees Russia recreated in Brighton Beach. Saud Alsanousi, the winner of the 2013 International Prize for Arabic Fiction, portrays a mixed-blood Kuwaiti victimized by that country’s harsh immigration policies, while Bangladesh’s Shahaduz Zaman’s visa applicant endures medical tests and examines his own emotions. Mely Kiyak observes Turkish immigrants in Germany, and Juan Carlos Mestre mourns a worker who never returned. Elsewhere, Musharraf Ali Farooqi introduces and translates a group of Sindhi folk tales. 

Piece by Piece They’re Taking My World Away
By Christos Ikonomou
I say we go. It can’t be worse than it is here.
Translated from Greek by Karen Emmerich
Slaves of Moscow
By Victoria Lomasko
Once there, they had been robbed of their passports and forced to work without pay for twenty hours a day.
Translated from Russian by Thomas Campbell
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Gastarbeiter
By Martin Karbowski
He says that was the most ingenious smokescreen he’s ever seen in his life.
Translated from Bulgarian by Angela Rodel
The Gold Watch
By Mely Kiyak
”The clock inside has no numbers, it has only memories.”
Translated from German by Rebecca Heier
Me and Mycobacterium tuberculosis
By Shahaduz Zaman
“And that shadowy bit you see up there, that’s the thing that has me worried.”
Translated from Bengali by Shabnam Nadiya
The Bamboo Stalk
By Saud Alsanousi
“Do you know how many policemen’s numbers I have in my phone?”
Translated from Arabic by Jonathan Wright
Horsemeat of the Brothel
By Wang Bang
A “new girl” is always more desirable to the regular clients.
The Bed
By Vladimir Vertlib
“All decent Jews go to America.”
Translated from German by David Burnett
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Flowers in Concrete
By Wilfried N’Sonde
The throng was slowly making for the two officers, a clash close at hand.
Translated from French by Edward Gauvin
Poem to the One in Far-Off Lands
By Juan Carlos Mestre
He works in order to return.
Translated from Spanish by Jeremy Paden
Bushrawi . . . Ranjini
By Taleb Alrefai
Mus‘ad, my youngest son, is more than two years old, and I’ve never seen him.
Translated from Arabic by William Maynard Hutchins