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Literature From The "Axis Of Evil": Writing From Iran, Iraq, North Korea And Other Enemy Nations

September 2006

How many Americans, even the most bookish, have ever read the work of a contemporary writer from Iran, Iraq, or North Korea, the countries George W. Bush designated the “Axis of Evil”? Words Without Borders is proud to be among the first to offer American readers a selection of stories and poems, most of which have never before been translated into English, from these and other nations currently considered “enemies,” both in this issue and in our new anthology, LITERATURE FROM THE “AXIS OF EVIL” (The New Press).

In concert with the launch of our first print publication, we offer our readers bonus features online:

“Love’s Turn,” Mohsen Makhmbalaf (Iran): a ghazal in the form of a screenplay

“Words,” Salah Al-Hamdani (Iraq): an apostrophe to Baghdad

“Sprouts,” Zakariya Tamer (Syria): the schoolmaster as dictator

“A Nation Behind Bars.” Khalid Oways (Sudan): “Art is forbidden. It calls for immorality and degradation.”

“Making of Paris,” Ernesto René Rodriguez (Cuba): a road trip across Europe

from Límites de Alcanía, Rito Ramón Aroche (Cuba): experimental prose poetry

“To Offer My Heart,” Nancy Alonso (Cuba): the sound of the spirit read aloud

And interviews with advisory editors, relevant back issues (from July/August, September and October of 2003), and our extensive archives of works from Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Libya, Syria, Sudan and Cuba.

Finally, Words Without Borders salutes the life and work of Egyptian Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz (1911-2006).

Love’s Turn
By Mohsen Makhmbalaf
I’m content. I will be killed for love.
Translated from Persian by Zjaleh Hajibashi
By Salah Al-Hamdani
Baghdad / I will divest you of your morgue
Translated from French by C. Dickson
By Zakariya Tamer
“These essays don’t even deserve a zero.”
Translated from Arabic by William Maynard Hutchins
From “A Nation behind Bars”
By Khalid Oways
“Art is forbidden. It calls for immorality and degradation.”
Translated from Arabic by Jonathan Smolin
Making off Paris
By Ernesto René Rodriguez
Rogelio arrived in Paris at dawn. He was in a car accompanied by three girls; two were in charge of the wheel.
Translated from Spanish by Jacqueline Loss
From “Límites de Alcanía”
By Rito Ramón Aroche
She presumes to know me. Or pretends. Very simple.
Translated from Spanish by Kristin Dykstra, Henrry Lezama & Nicolas Mansito III
To Offer My Heart
By Nancy Alonso
The Monteroni family could tell exactly how Marcelo felt by the music he selected.
Translated from Spanish by Anne Fountain
An Interview with Zara Houshmand
How did you find the pieces you included in the Iran section of Literature from the “Axis of Evil”? Isn’t it next to impossible to find out who the great writers are from the countries…
Translated from Arabic
An Interview with Hayun Jung
How easy was it for you, living in Seoul, to find work for the North Korea section of Literature from the “Axis of Evil” ?Because there are very few North Korean publications available to…
An Interview with Jacqueline Loss
How did you select the Cuban pieces for the anthology, Literature from the “Axis of Evil”?I combed through Cuban print and Internet literary journals*Š and I spoke with translators……
The Toughest Guy in Utouf
By Naguib Mahfouz
“What would you say, Boss,” he asked, “if I offered you a job that would keep the heat off your back?”
Translated from Arabic by Raymond Stock