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Fiction

Ahlem
By Fatos Lubonja
1The television room had never been so full and so silent, except for the announcer’s voice booming for more than an hour. Nobody added a whisper to his commentary. Nobody made a move to leave.It…
Translated from Albanian by John Hodgson
from The Banquet in Blitva
By Miroslav Krleza
Written before the Second World War but not widely available until 1962, Miroslav Krleza’s Banquet in Blitva combines the satire of a Jonathan Swift with the style and tone of the Austrian Recession…
Translated from Croatian by Edward Dennis Goy & Jasna Levinger
Cactus
By Miljenko Jergovic
She was always afraid of missing the beautiful and important things in life. She traveled a lot, but more often she panicked because she was stuck at home. For some reason she always imagined that real…
Translated from Bosnian by Stela Tomasevic
The Villa in Acibadem
By Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar
The villa in Acibadem left a clear mark on every stage of my life. It isn't just that it touched my tender years like all those miracles of childhood are bound to do. It influenced my way of thinking,…
Translated from Turkish by Fatih Özgüven
from Picture, Icon, Old Testament
By Sahar Khalifeh
The story began for me when I fled a family marriage arranged by my mother’s brother. In rebellion, I accepted a post in a forgotten village at the city’s far perimeter. But my troubled conscience,…
Translated from Arabic by Marilyn Booth
The Geological-Surveillance Institute Part 1
By Alexander Selin
“Well, let’s fly . . .”“Why, a geologist of course, no question about it,” said the rector with a scowl. “A spy wouldn’t throw himself under a train because of…
Translated from Russian by Nick Allen
from Me and So Forth
By Vyacheslav Pyetsukh
Me and PerestroikaNow I will tell you how perestroika collapsed. To be more precise, it hasn’t collapsed yet, but it definitely will due to the archaic institutions of the family and marriage, which…
Translated from Russian by Dinara Georgeoliani & Mark Halperin
Me and Perestroika
By Vyacheslav Pyetsukh
Now I will tell you how perestroika collapsed. To be more precise, it hasn’t collapsed yet, but it definitely will due to the archaic institutions of the family and marriage, which dominate in times…
Translated from Russian by Dinara Georgeoliani & Mark Halperin
Animal Transport
By Wladimir Kaminer
The eighties began with the Olympics in Moscow. In spite of the boycott by many western countries, Leonid Brezhnev, who was General Secretary at the time, was determined to prevent the whole thing from…
Translated from Russian by Liesl Schillinger
Nancy
By Alexander Pokrovsky
Nancy was this woman. From America. A woman general. And not just a general, but an advisor to the president. Rumor even had it she could do the same amount of push-ups as any other American general and…
Translated from Russian by Tony Perry
from The Roulette Player
By Mircea Cartarescu
By chance, the first roulette player I ever saw escaped with his life. Since then, for many years in a row, I attended hundreds of roulettes and I saw many times an image that cannot be described: the…
Translated from Romanian by Julian Semilian
Waltzing Matilda
By Najem Wali
All I have left from this story is a white Caribbean suit, a Panama hat, and a cassette tape that I’ve carried persistently in my left shirt pocket. And a pair of white shoes which, if I hadn’t…
Translated from Arabic by Marilyn Booth
Homeland as Exile, Exile as Homeland
By Najem Wali
Iocasta: What is an exile’s life? Is it great misery?Polyneices: The greatest; worse in reality than in report.Iocasta: Worse in what way? What chiefly galls an exile’s heart?Polyneices: The…
Translated from Arabic by Jennifer Kaplan
Trastevere Boy
By Pier Paolo Pasolini
The kid who sells roasted chestnuts at the end of the Ponte Garibaldi gets down to work. He sits in a groove in the parapet of the bridge with a small stove between his legs, looking no one in the face,…
Translated from Italian by Marina Harss
from Scattered Crumbs
By Muhsin al-Ramli
Set in an Iraqi village during the Iran-Iraq war, Scattered Crumbs critiques a totalitarian dictatorship through the stories of an impoverished peasant family. A father (Hajji Ijayel), a fierce supporter…
Translated from Arabic by Yasmeen Hanoosh
from At the Borderline
By Sherko Fatah
Set in the border triangle of Iran, Irak, and Turkey, Im Grenzland [At the Borderline] is the story of an Iraqi Kurd who makes his living as a smuggler. Having bought a map of landmines from a former…
Translated from German by Andrea Heyde
from Outcast
By Shimon Ballas
Dreams don’t come to us without being provoked externally, which is what happened to me yesterday when I woke up at five in the morning, precisely the hour I had intended to get up. I found myself…
Translated from Hebrew by Ammiel Alcalay
Completely Absentminded
By Mario Benedetti
He never considered himself an exiled politician. He abandoned his country out of a strange impulse that was forged in three stages. The first was when he was approached by four successive beggars on…
Translated from Spanish by Harry Morales
from He’s Alive
By Kim Hong-ik
In this 1995 story, Bun-nyo is an elderly superintendent at a reservoir in the countryside. She devotes much of her time and effort to taking care of a flourishing flower garden that she has planted in…
Translated from Korean by Ha-yun Jung
Toba Tek Singh
By Saadat Hasan Manto
Two or three years after Partition, the governments of Pakistan and India decided to exchange lunatics in the same way that they had exchanged civilian prisoners. In other words, Muslim lunatics in Indian…
Translated from Urdu by Richard McGill Murphy
from Hopes for Good Fortune
By Han Ung-bin
The narrator, a manager at a factory in the city, is sent on an urgent business trip to his wife’s hometown. As the hapless narrator sets out on his journey, his wife pressures him to visit his…
Translated from Korean by Ha-yun Jung
Third Letter to Uncle Sam
By Saadat Hasan Manto
31 Laxmi Mansions Hall Road, Lahore15 March 1954Dear Uncle,Greetings,I write this after a long break. The fact is that I was ill. According to our poetic tradition, the treatment for illness lies in what…
Translated from Urdu by Khalid Hasan
from Friends on the Road
By Kim Byung-hun
This story, written in 1960, is narrated by a middle-aged party committee chairman in the countryside who encounters a young woman on the train, on his way back from an important regional meeting. The…
Translated from Korean by Ha-yun Jung
Berlin Bolero
By Ingo Schulze
“What a slimeball!” She pressed the glass against her cheek again. “And you go along with him. All this time you’ve been so stubborn. Then somebody like him comes along and . .…
Translated from German by Edna McCown
Second Encounter
By Han Ung-bin
This is a story about something that took place over ten years ago, during the 13th World Youth Festival. It is now Juche Year 88 (1999).1 Outside our window slogans on the street, visible everywhere,…
Translated from Korean by Stephen Epstein
Agony in the Kitchen
By Juan José Millás
Surveying the men near him to see which ones looked more athletically inclined, he selected the members of a prospective rescue party.
Translated from Spanish by Tobias Hecht
from The Shadowboxer
By Inka Parei
For the last week it’s been quiet in this side wing of what used to be a fashionable Jewish apartment block in Lehniner Strasse. We’re the last two inhabitants, she and I. A wing full of gloomy…
Translated from German
from Cuneiform
By Kader Abdolah
Hadjar bore seven children. Aga Akbar was the youngest, and he was born deaf and mute. She knew it even in the first month. She saw that he didn't react. But she didn't want to believe it. She…
Translated from Dutch by Sam Garrett
from A Little Less Conversation
By Tirdad Zolghadr
To describe Tehran would be like spelling out a frenzied, hourlong dinner table discussion to a complete newcomer.
Translated from English
from Snow over Tehran
By Firouz Nadji-Ghazvini
“Your eyes are full of sadness, friend.”
Translated from Farsi by Zara Houshmand
An Empty Room
By MuXin
As the mountain crested its slope steepened. I was already sweating. A church appeared at the top of the crest. I thought I should rest there a bit before deciding when to descend. The war had just ended.…
Translated from Chinese by Toming Jun Liu
Hitchcock and Agha Baji
By Behnam Dayani
To my grandmother, and all other grandmothers whom we never treasured as much as they deserved.On that sunny autumn Thursday afternoon, between the hours of two and seven, three unusual incidents took…
Translated from Persian by Nahid Mozaffari
Paris Lost
By Wladimir Kaminer
Our government was very generous with its citizens; it couldn't be compared to an imperialist regime.
Translated from German by Liesl Schillinger
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