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October 2010

Beyond Borges: Argentina Now

This month we join the publishing world in celebrating Argentina, guest of honor at the Frankfurt Book Fair and a pulse point of the vibrant Latin American literary scene. As might be expected of the heirs of Borges and Cortázar, the writers featured here both reflect and extend the masters’ work, combining a touch of the fantastic with surprising turns of both plot and phrase. The prolific Ana María Shua sends an alien invader in a clever disguise.  Guillermo Martínez watches a couple struggle with chance and unimaginable loss.  Sergio Bizzio’s teens pull a disappearing act. Irish-Argentine Juan José Delaney considers mortality, while young star Samanta Schweblin practices unorthodox family planning. In two tales of the Dirty War, writer and journalist Mempo Giardinelli metes out a karmic revenge, and Edgar Brau reports from a prison camp. Poet Maria Negroni stands at the mouth of hell. National Critics Prize-winner Andrés Neuman’s quarreling couple literally draws a line in the sand. The great Silvina Ocampo pens a gentle fable. And in contributions from other languages, Witold Gombrowicz's widow collects tales of his time in Argentina, and Lúcia Bettencourt reveals the secrets of Borges’s muse.

Elsewhere this month, Dimitris Athinakis talks texts with Peter Constantine and searches for an equation, and Yang Zi files a farm report.

The Key
Author’s Note: Around 1969, encouraged by the examples of Cuba and Vietnam and with the pretext of combating the military government that had assumed power three years earlier, the first guerilla…
Translated from Spanish
God’s Punishment
Translated from Spanish
The Two Coins
By Hsia Yü
Portitor has horrendus aguas et                                                                    …
Translated from Spanish
Someone Around Here is Looking for an Equation
By José María Lima
I listen to the sounds, in this room; the house must be settling. I smell me everywhere, I remember the first body.             Finger insistent, upright; wanting to speak.…
Translated from Greek by Juan Carlos Flores
“I can read minds,” said Julian. For the past half-hour, Ronnie had been sitting on the edge of the river bank, his legs dangling and his eyes fixed on the river. It was eleven o’clock…
Translated from Spanish
from “Gombrowicz in Argentina”
By Jorge Olivera Castillo
Rita Gombrowicz’s Gombrowicz in Argentina (Gombrowicz en Argentine, 1984) and Gombrowicz in Europe (Gombrowicz en Europe, 1988) pull together her years of research into Witold Gombrowicz's…
Translated from French
Exploding Cow
In Shandong, someone sticks a plastic tube through the cow’s nostril and into its stomach, then pours water. The animal collapses, limbs dangling skyward, belly swollen. Docile black eyes stare…
Translated from Chinese by Alison Watts & Sam Malissa
Octavio the Invader
By Ana María Shua
He was prepared for the terrifying violence of the light and noise, but not for the pressure, the brutal atmospheric pressure, combined with the Earth’s gravity, acting on that body which was so different…
Translated from Spanish by Andrea G. Labinger
The “I Ching” and the Man of Papers
The man awakens with a start. His back feels numb. He had fallen asleep in the chair, and it takes him a moment to remember where he is, but it’s the second night, and the room with its row of beds…
Translated from Spanish
An Interview with Dimitris Athinakis
By Omar Pérez
The Greek poet Dimitris Athinakis came of age with the new millennium.  Raised in a Greece of fast and cataclysmic change, he belongs to a new generation of writers whose works are bringing brave…
Translated from Greek
The Golden Hare
In the bosom of the afternoon the sun illuminated her like a conflagration in the engravings of an ornate Bible. Not all hares are alike, Jacinto, and it wasn't her fur, believe me, that distinguished…
Translated from Spanish
Five Poems from “Mouth of Hell”
By Linda Coverdale
The ephemeral, suddenly, dazzling, like the shrewd play of verses. Steep curve. A river of hermetic prestige diverted from its own digressions. Possible visions to capture the cry of the human. An urging,…
Translated from Spanish by David Iaconangelo
A Line in the Sand
  Ruth was making mountains with a foot. She dug with her big toe in the warm sand, made little mounds, tidied them up, carefully smoothed them with the sole of her foot, contemplated them a little.…
Translated from Spanish by Sigurbjorg Þrastardottir
Borges’s Secretary
By Lúcia Bettencourt
I don’t know when she discovered that I could no longer see.  Not even I had completely discerned this; I would look at books and judged that I could still see the pages, read them, understand…
Translated from Portuguese by Kim M. Hastings
By Samanta Schweblin
It’s difficult to accept the idea of receiving Teresita so soon, but I don’t want to hurt her, either.
Translated from Spanish by Joel Streicker