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June 2008

The Global Gourmet

Silence
Winds that do not blow in the evening, and winds that do not blow at dawn have burdened me with a book of boughs. I see my cry in the silence. Night descends, blue, between staircases and stars. I see…
Translated from Arabic
Departure ’82
Soon all the rooms will be closed, and beginning with the basement, we will leave them one by one until we reach the guns on the roof. We will leave them too . . . like the rooms and go on to search in…
Translated from Arabic
The Jazz Corner
A moment after midnight every night jazz begins to soak the Jazz Corner like new wine like village wine A moment after midnight every night a woman descends a dark staircase to sing Brazil or balconies…
Translated from Arabic
A Shiver
Hold me, comfort me The stones are nothing but pain tonight Hold me to your breast so that I ramble: The stars are gray as ash and the road to them is ablaze with light.1993
Translated from Arabic
Koofa
We did not name it so that it would become a city. We came to it thirsty starved limping on blazing sands, blinded by sun glow. We cut the world from Mecca to the palace of Naaman. We cut the world with…
Translated from Arabic
The Bird’s Last Flight
When I enter the earth's nest contented and glad, my wings resting, I will free my eyelids so not to see the trees swaying nearer. Do not cry over me. I said do not cry. If you wish, remember that…
Translated from Arabic
Knows Meier
1. How did you discover Walser, and what first inspired you to undertake a translation of his work? Two of my friends, T. and M., love Walser very much. I can't remember which of them first spoke…
On Translating Walser
1. How did you discover Walser, and what first inspired you to undertake a translation of his work? On first coming across Walser in graduate school I found his voice beguiling and, at times, infuriating.…
from “Brains Confounded by the Ode of Abu Shaduf Expounded”
Yusuf al-Shirbini wrote his primary work, Brains Confounded by the Ode of Abu Shaduf Expounded [Hazz al-Quhuf bi-Sharh Qasid Abi Shaduf], in or shortly after 1686. His only other known work is a homily…
Translated from Arabic
An Introduction to Robert Walser
As a reader of Robert Walser for almost 30 years, I'm pleased to host this discussion of the latest addition to the Walser corpus in English: The Assistant. Strange to think that this delightful,…
Swiss Literature and “The Assistant”
In no other novel does modern Switzerland show her changing face with such gentle charm. In The Assistant, Robert Walser looks back on his sojourn with the engineer Dubler in Wädenswil in 1903. As…
Afterword to “The Assistant”
Robert Walser was not quite thirty in 1907 when he sat down in his Berlin apartment—a fifth-story walkup in a rear building at 141 Wilmersdorfer Straße in the Charlottenburg district—and…
after pompeii
I borrow a stocking pull it down over my eyes today I see as I can't be seen I feel like the dog at pompeii shrouded in lava it is written that the time will come when we see each other face to face…
Translated from Arabic
claustrophobia
in the cellar, my father dead for so many years among madmen and deaf mutes their pants pockets stuffed with money and passports outside, lonely horses shod with crescent moons and crosses I feel seasick…
Translated from Romanian
Deaf as a Log
for ioan flora store windows in which I can see you as a blur– the animals make way for me to kiss the glass. you're deaf as a log I ask myself why you ever came here to cry over the human race.…
Translated from Romanian
Settling Accounts
My father abandoned my mother a few months after I was born. So my mother and I had to move into the home of my maternal grandmother. My mother had only one brother, Uncle Otávio, a failed economist…
Translated from Portuguese
Rice
By Yuan Qiongqiong
1She woke in the middle of the night to cook rice.Couldn't sleep. She was lying on the bed, eyes closed, but she hadn't the slightest sensation of sleepiness.He slept quite well beside her. When…
Translated from Chinese by Hsiang Hsu
from “Comfort”
By Ronald Giphart
A two-star colleague had helped me import a rye from a small French village with the rather apt name of Pont-Saint-Esprit. Because opium had been banned under the Opium Act in 1928 and no other hard…
Translated from Dutch by Michele Hutchison
Easter Lunch
By Gabriella Ghermandi
The window of the one bedroom in our tiny house looked out onto the street. Opposite, on the other side of the street, there was a large building known as “the kids' house.” It was a long,…
Translated from Italian by Brenda Porster
Time Out for Blackberries
8 A mushroom in the sauce impresses like a tree: not through violence, through perseverance. 13 Red watermelon humor: meaty appearance, watery vanity. 14 Bolder, the pear: the heart is dead, the shell…
Translated from Spanish
Multilingual
The End of Amsterdam’s Hunger Winter
“The ape brought us the food,” Father said and added, after a pause, “and a book.” This was followed, as always, by another pause, a longer one to let the opening sink in. “This…
The Hunger Artist: Feasting and Fasting with Gogol
“And bake us a four-cornered fish pie,” he said, sucking the air through his teeth and inhaling deeply. “In one corner I want you to put the sturgeon cheeks and the gristle cooked soft,…
Bankruptcy
Don't speak to me of liquidity, I'm consumptive, debts and more debts accumulate in columns of fear. I couldn't carry the crushing mortgage I couldn't shake the bankruptcy that weighs…
Translated from Spanish
Everyone Has Her Own Small Treasure
Through the crack, you could see the smiling face of a gray-haired woman. Ana greeted her; unexpectedly, an image from a book popped into her head—Alice in Wonderland?—a grinning cat that…
Translated from Spanish
Thirteen Ways of Looking at Joseph Brodsky
Between 2003 and 2004, Valentina Polukhina conducted a series of interviews about Nobel Prize in Literature recipient Joseph Brodsky. She spoke with former Brodsky student and executive director of The…
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