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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
By Edgar Brau
“Have you ever seen a human body decompose before? No? Well, you will now.”
Translated from Spanish by Donald A. Yates
God’s Punishment
By Mempo Giardinelli
“If I have to kill a thousand innocent people in order to unearth a single guerrilla, I will.”
Translated from Spanish by Andrea G. Labinger
The Two Coins
By Juan José Delaney
Countless small spiders were spreading out over his skin in a kind of exotic dance.
Translated from Spanish by Donald A. Yates
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
By Sergio Bizzio
“You really make people disappear!?”
Translated from Spanish by Amanda Hopkinson
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 tubethrough the cow’s nostril and into its stomach,then pours water.The animal collapses,limbs dangling skyward,belly swollen.Docile black eyes stare out in terror.These…
Translated from Chinese
Octavio the Invader
By Ana María Shua
While the woman was in the bathroom, Alex leaned on the cradle with all the weight of his little body until he tipped it over.
Translated from Spanish by Andrea G. Labinger
The “I Ching” and the Man of Papers
By Guillermo Martínez
In Tokyo, in Buenos Aires, in New York, every night, routinely, someone kills a loved one in his dreams.
Translated from Spanish by Andrea G. Labinger
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
By Silvina Ocampo
Not all hares are alike, Jacinto, and it wasn't her fur, believe me, that distinguished her from the other hares, not her Tartar eyes nor the whimsical shape of her ears.
Translated from Spanish by Andrea Rosenberg
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
By Andrés Neuman
“Don’t move.” Ruth was holding a wooden racket.
Translated from Spanish by Alison Entrekin
Borges’s Secretary
By Lúcia Bettencourt
I can’t, nor do I want to, unmask her, because in doing so I would destroy myself.
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