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October 2009

Foreign Correspondents: International Reporting

This month we present eyewitness accounts from around the world. In the spirit of the great Ryszard Kapuściński, our contributors record far more than just the facts, blending genres in filing dispatches from both political and literary frontlines. From the killing fields of Cambodia to the swarming streets of Tehran, on the ground and in the trenches, the writers here document the news of the world with artful urgency. See how Nanni Balestrini, Karl-Markus Gauss, Gébé, Elham Gheytanchi, Peter Fröberg Idling, Wojciech Jagielski, Erwin Koch, François Vallejo, and Abdourahman Waberi deliver news that stays news.

From “Pol Pot’s Smile”
By Peter Fröberg Idling
1The road through the landscape. You have to drive well below the speed limit of 70 kph unless you already know the wheeltracks, the potholes, the curves. Roads in Cambodia aren’t much different.…
Translated from Swedish by Silvester Mazzarella
From “Sandokan”
By Nanni Balestrini
during the summer months I help my father I work in the orchard and during these two or three months of summer I spend fifteen or twenty days at the fruit dump I drive my father’s tractor to the…
Translated from Italian by Antony Shugaar
Dear Torturer
Evil wears no gloves. You turned red with shame when the slice of cake tipped over onto the tablecloth. Because you've known for a long time what is appropriate in a German cafe. The waiter hissed:…
Translated from German
From “Towers of Stone”
I made a habit of visiting the refugees in the train standing in the middle of nowhere, outside the village of Karabulak. From far away you got the impression that the train had stopped because of some…
Translated from Polish
Rwanda: The Flame of Hope
1 The sunny side of life Recently one evening, as trails of ochre tinged with mauve kept stretching late into the sky of Mantua, I found myself face to face with Predrag Matvejević, the writer from…
Translated from French
When Chaos Came to Salzburg
Pentecost, the peaceful holiday, had come, and Salzburg was something akin to a city under a state of emergency. By Friday, even schoolgirls from good homes did not make it all the way to school, if they…
Translated from German
A Revolutionary Tradition: Shoars in Iranian Street Politics
As images of the bloody crackdown by government militias and plainclothes policemen on the peaceful demonstrations were broadcast after the controversial results of the tenth presidential elections in…
The Front
By Gébé
“The Front” is taken from Not-Quite-Botched Dispatches (But a Hard Sell for the Nightly News), a series of fictional reportages; as satire, they take for their target the trumpery and fabrication…
Translated from French by Edward Gauvin
From “The Burning of the Chiado”
By François Vallejo
It goes quickly. Lisbon burns. The Frenchman has followed the fire’s progress since morning. He was sleeping in his pension, Rua do Ouro. A roar outside, he pulled the curtains back. It should’ve…
Translated from French by Edward Gauvin
An Interview with Suzanne Jill Levine
María Constanza Guzmán: In the introduction to The Subversive Scribe, you mention the usefulness of “self-referential inquisitions by prose translators” as models for the study…
The Tragedy of Narcissus The Comedy of Silver
They returned… from the end of the long tunnel to their mirrors…they returned when they recovered their brothers' salt, single or in groups, they returned from the myths of defending…
Translated from Arabic