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September 2013

Black Markets

This month we're covering black markets: those underground exchanges of contraband that power parallel economies throughout the world. Goods both human and inanimate are traded in these shadowy venues, where everything from kidneys to diamonds is available, often at horrific cost.  In fiction and essays, Wang Bang, Abdelilah Hamdouchi, Vladimir Lorchenkov, Jason Miklian, Dominique Manotti, Dmitri Novosolov, Edgard Telles Ribeiro, and Ye Yonglie explore clandestine systems around the world. And in the latest installment of our World through the Eyes of Writers feature, Poland's Paweł Huelle salutes poet Tomasz Różycki.  

My Shadow Library: A Chinese Author on Book Piracy
By Ye Yonglie
After Mo Yan won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2012, publishers around the world rushed to print copies of his books—none more enthusiastically than China’s infamous book pirates. In China,…
Translated from Chinese by Alice Xin Liu
from “The Good Life Elsewhere”
By Vladimir Lorchenkov
Mingir, a village in the Hincesti region, was famous throughout Moldova for its residents, who habitually trafficked in kidneys. What’s more, the kidneys were their own. There were already thirty…
Translated from Russian by Ross Ufberg
“Let’s Deal”: A Conversation with a Diamond Smuggler
By Jason Miklian
It wasn’t even level. In fact, just about the only redeeming thing about the tilted plastic card table was the cartoonish beer logo plastered atop it. Even that was scuffed to the point of unreadability,…
from “Za”
By Jean-Luc Raharimanana
A man selling sweet dumplings comes up wiz his basket full and asks ze internashonal lady if se would be so kind as to buy one. No? Half of one, zen? — Ma’am iss not espensive, have pity on…
Translated from French by Sophie Lewis
By Wang Bang
“I’m free!” Scarlet shouted, waving a letter at me. She was down in the street, holding onto her rolled-up pant legs, knee-deep in floodwater. From where I stood on the balcony, I could…
Translated from Chinese by Nicky Harman
By Dmitri Novoselov
Back in the early 1990s, when Wild-West capitalism came to Russia, I was a chelnok, or shuttle trader. My wife and I (we weren’t married at that stage) traveled the whole world in search of cheap…
Translated from Russian by Will Firth
Señor Capitán
By Edgard Telles Ribeiro
The lawyer beside me shrugs in silence. His body language seems to suggest that some stories can’t be captured in words. He tries nonetheless. To make his narrative more palatable, he loosens his…
Translated from Portuguese by Kim M. Hastings
A Relentless War
By Dominique Manotti
There is an atmosphere of intense concentration around the solid wood table. General Makhloufi, Commander in Chief of the Royal Gendarmerie, Tangier Province, stands in front of a giant map of the region…
Translated from French by Ros Schwartz
Bled Dry
By Abdelilah Hamdouchi
The Casablanca night doesn’t really begin until after midnight, but after midnight, anything goes. Nezha was wondering where Hammadi would want to finish off the evening. They left La Falaise at…
Translated from Arabic by Jonathan Smolin
The Guy Who Bought the World
By Tomasz Różycki
The guy who bought the world is out for a walkdown Thirty-seventh Street. No one in the leastsuspects that the deal just took place and the stockexchanges keep noting each little increase,ha, ha, ha.…
Translated from Polish by Mira Rosenthal
This Is My Room
By Tomasz Różycki
This is my room. The ice in the glass will melthere in a moment, will melt before the eye,and by the time the hand and fingers have feltwhat’s happening, an inkblot takes the page, dyessnippets…
Translated from Polish by Mira Rosenthal
In the Evening, Love
By Tomasz Różycki
The guy who bought the world has his five minutesand the bartender puts yet another markby his name. What is his name? The unknit wispsof sky, like in Grójec, like in Horyniec.And snow has covered…
Translated from Polish by Mira Rosenthal
A Letter to a Young Poet: On Tomasz Różycki
By Paweł Huelle
IOnce, on a long trip, I experienced an incident that was as trivial as it was enlightening. It happened that my luggage was lost for a couple of days while I was staying in a foreign city. Because I…
Translated from Polish by Mira Rosenthal