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May 2008

Public Lives, Private Lives

The Rooms Aren’t What They Appear to Be
The rooms aren't what they appear to be nor are they the sum of what they seem. What comes clear is their daily record of contact: from the contours that rooms impress on objects and that objects…
Translated from Spanish
Among These Ruins
This hotel is an old school, you can feel it despite the time. Despite the torn down walls, the broken spaces. Those who live here seem to be passing through. A few hours a day. A couple months. No doubt…
Translated from Spanish
Under the Bridge
By Rosario Sanmiguel
I went to look for Martín even though he didn’t like for me to go all the way to the riverbank. Since it was Monday, there wasn’t anybody in the restaurant, and at seven, Mere let me leave.…
Translated from Spanish by John Pluecker
The Wandering Song
By Rubén Darío
A singer goes all over the worldimpassioned or boredIn a little train or a white trainby the gulls or through the grainA singer walks into wars and peacesinto civil wars, trench wars, trade warsthrough…
Translated from Spanish by Gabriel Gudding
Over the River
By Tashi Dawa
The river was as wide as a lake, a sea, or a plain. The village at the foot of distant mountains over the river would have seemed more illusory had it not been for a few green dots on the bank—lonely…
Translated from Chinese by Li Guoqing
By Rubén Darío
Little spider, greet the sun. Don't be down.Give thanks, dear toad, that you are here.The hairy crabs, like roses, all have thorns,and mollusks are reminiscences of women.Know how to be what you are:enigmas…
Translated from Spanish by Gabriel Gudding
Why cry for the wingless spirit bird? Why cry for the honeybird? The king attends a funeral and dances with his eyebrows, his naked words smelling of sand and gunpowder. The polluted wind only smells…
A Voice in the Crowd: A Sketch
By Antonio Muñoz Molina
Ignacio Abel stopped in his tracks when, through the hubbub of Penn Station, he heard someone calling his name. Which, of course, was impossible. In his three days of waiting in New York, he’d received…
Translated from Spanish by Esther Allen
Of Words and Borders
By Chenjerai Hove
As a writer, I have come to know that writers have the misfortune of being invited to speak on things about which they know absolutely nothing. What do I know about this magic string of words: “Hospitality…
from “In Ben’s Footsteps”
By Abdourahman A. Waberi
For Tim Peltason, Debra Carbares, Anjali Prabhu, and the Newhouse Humanities Center, Wellesley CollegeBen, do you know why the dreams of children are always corrupted in the mouths of adults? Why must…
Translated from French by Nicole Ball & David Ball
By György Dragomán
The bears are tame, I broke them in myself.
Translated from Hungarian by Paul Olchváry
Ernst and Mylia
By Gonçalo M. Tavares
Ernst Spengler was alone in his attic apartment, ready to throw himself out the already open window when, suddenly, the telephone rang. Once, twice, three times, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten,…
Translated from Portuguese by Anna Kushner
By Yael Hedaya
So what is the moment? What does it look like? What shape does it take and when does it occur, that instant which is not a moment and yet is everything? And why does it slip away from her time after time…
Translated from Hebrew by Jessica Cohen
Field of Battle, Field of Fruit
By Francesc Serès
Spreading out like a dense forest, shaking and rippling like a field of corn combed by the north wind, a hypnotic wave, a river above craggy peaks, the flock is like a cloud-filled sky when a storm is…
Translated from Catalan by Peter Bush
MS Hitra
By Jo Nesbø
Captain Jonasen followed the dotted line in the atlas with his finger. What he would do after Buenos Aires he didn't know. As far as he was concerned life could end there. He closed the atlas with…
Translated from Norwegian by Don Bartlett
The Soul Mate
By A. B. Yehoshua
My only son has a soul mate I’m not fond of. But what can I do? They bonded in the army, and although they’ve been out for a while now, the ties have only grown stronger. Is such a friendship…
Translated from Hebrew by Gila Brand
from “Friends for Four Years”
By Anja Sicking
The bunker, located in a quiet, remote corner of the dunes, was surrounded by a low, thorny shrub that kept other beachgoers at arm’s length, along with their economy-size cookie wrappers, empty…
Translated from Dutch by Sherry Marx
By Amanda Michalopoulou
After the rain, the clouds shrank and the sky shone silver. The phone would ring any minute now. I was standing over the receiver when its shrill snarl echoed in the room.“How are you?”“Fine.…
Translated from Greek by Karen Emmerich
from “How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone”
By Saša Stanišiç
The promise a dam must keep, what the most beautiful language in the world sounds like, and how often a heart must beat to beat shameFrancesco rented a room from old Mirela and moved in opposite, and…
Translated from German by Anthea Bell
They Began to Call You
They began to call you, the rocks, breathing, their innumerable visages, their gesticulant throbbing, from the cliff face. You could see the entrance of the cave and you knew. Totems fusing together.…
Translated from Spanish
The Story of One Occasion
By Kristín Ómarsdottir
On one of many occasions Greta Garbo visited her fellow actress Marilyn Monroe in her home town, the City of Angels. Greta, who lived in New York, flew to the West Coast, took a taxi at the airport, and…
Translated from Icelandic by Janice Balfour
The East
By Lieve Joris
The high school was a large red-brick colonial building on a hill covered in scrawny pine trees at the edge of Bukavu. There were better schools in town, but you had to take an entrance exam and Elias…
Translated from Dutch by Liz Waters