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Nonfiction

Privilege, Race, and Translation
By Corine Tachtiris
Scholar and translator Corine Tachtiris reflects on the inherent privilege of translating while White in this essay.And if there are few Black translators, there are few representatives of the possibility…
Barriers, Privileges, and Invisible Labor: A Sino Diaspora Translator’s Perspective
By Yilin Wang
Translator Yilin Wang addresses various forms of bias in translation from Asian Languages in this essay.“You must teach yourself how to carry loan words,tiny seeds gift-wrapped like hand-me-down heirlooms…
Reckonings: The Queer Issue XII
By Susan Harris
This year we celebrate Pride Month with seven pieces depicting Queer characters confronting decisive moments.
A dark door cracked open to reveal bright red light
Photo by Dima Pechurin on Unsplash
Yun-Fan: Singing the Variety of Queer Life
By Wanning Chen
When I was twenty-three, I met my first girlfriend, who then went off with a man after just four months—and eventually married him.
Translated from Chinese by Jeremy Tiang
Movement and Stasis
By July Blalack
Mauritanian literature foregrounds characters on the move.
Double portrait of writer Jhumpa Lahiri
Where I Find Myself
By Jhumpa Lahiri
I have come to think of any “definitive text” largely the same way that I think of a mother tongue, at least in my case: an inherently debatable, perpetually relative concept.
The Thrill of Reading Obliviously
By J. R. Ramakrishnan
A translated work’s pitch is aided by comparisons.
The Comparison Game
By Laurence Laluyaux
This game of comparisons, while not always accurate, can open doors and be thought-provoking.
Why Must Two Works be Compared at All?
By Saudamini Deo
Why must two works be compared at all?
The Incomparable Ones
By Juan Milà
It is essential that we understand comps and are aware of their limitations.
On the Periphery
By Larissa Kyzer
The scope of the topics explored in this issue is, therefore, necessarily broad without being comprehensive.
Words Without Borders Campus Launches Iranian Literature Resource
New York City, New York, March 23, 2021—WWB Campus, the online education program of Words Without Borders, announced today the launch of a new unit of literature from Iran.“Read Iran”…
Writing Against Estrangement in Galicia
By Scott Shanahan
No doubt a few Galicians will think it in very bad taste to inaugurate this issue with a likeness to their higher profile southern neighbors, but because there may be a great many glad for the comparison,…
History Interrupted: Georgia’s Broken Thread
By Maya Jaggi
Geography has been destiny for Georgia and its literature.
Multimedia
Words Without Borders Announces 2021 Poems in Translation Contest
Airea D. Matthews to JudgeWinning Poems to Be Published in Poem-a-Day and WWB We’re pleased to announce the 2021 WWB Poems in Translation Contest spotlighting groundbreaking work by poets and…
Words Without Borders Receives 2021 National Endowment for the Arts Grant
New York, New York, February 4, 2021—The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has just announced that it will distribute more than $25 million in support of 1,073 arts and cultural organizations…
Young Russophonia: New Literature in Russian
By Hilah Kohen & Josephine von Zitzewitz
These writings spark immediate conversations through rapid-fire literary texts rather than typical online commentary.
How Can We Better Publish Black Writers in Translation?
By the Editors of Words Without Borders
This month, WWB took a look back at some of the important writing on race and racism to be found in the magazine's archives.
Publishers Need More Black Translator Friends
By Aaron Robertson
There are obstacles translators must face before the international sections of bookstores reflect the world more equitably.
Respecting the Diversity of Creativity
By Évelyne Trouillot
It would be naive to speak of editorial decisions without taking into account power relationships and established patterns of prejudice that undergird the publishing industry.
Translated from French by Paul Curtis Daw
Developing a Publishing Infrastructure in Mozambique
By Sandra Tamele
Running a start-up publisher in Mozambique is challenging, particularly because sales are low due to a nonexistent distribution network and too few bookshops, all located in the capital city.
Celebrating Kazi Nazrul Islam, Rebel Poet of Bengal
By Liesl Schwabe
Much of the radical heart of Nazrul’s larger oeuvre, including his work as a freedom fighter, has been overlooked.
Global Blackness: Black Writers in Translation
By Eric M. B. Becker
Engaging the evolving dialogue that broadens definitions of global Blackness.
Tara Parsons Joins WWB Board of Directors
By Words Without Borders
Words Without Borders is pleased to announce the election of Tara Parsons, Associate Publisher of the HarperOne Group, to its Board of Directors. “Tara's expertise and leadership in…
New Voices: Afghan Women Writers
By Lucy Hannah
A nation’s upheaval cannot be understood without women's perspectives.
Aperture: Sudanese Female Novelists Coming into Focus
By Sawad Hussain
Is there some sort of double marginalization at play?
Introducing WWB’s Assistant Editor and Development Associate, Nina Perrotta
By Words Without Borders
We’re pleased to welcome Nina Perrotta as WWB’s assistant editor and development associate. Nina is a writer, editor, and translator from Spanish and Portuguese. Prior to joining WWB, she…
Toward Our Common Destruction: Humans and the Environment
By Eric M. B. Becker
The protagonist of this month’s work is the natural world in its multitudes.
Introducing WWB’s Editorial Fellow, Varun Nayar
By Words Without Borders
We're pleased to welcome Varun Nayar as a WWB editorial fellow. Varun is a writer, editor, and researcher from Delhi, India. He was most recently the nonfiction editor of Asymptote, and…
Climates: On Environment
By Susan Harris
Global warming manifests in obvious ways.
Farewell to the White Giants
By Andri Snær Magnason
Chaos is not confined to the glacier’s edge.
Translated from Icelandic by Lytton Smith
Climate Fiction for Climate Action
By Amy Brady
No single means of communication can be solely effective, because climate change is such a “wicked” problem—it is truly planetary in scale.
A Japanese Lesson
By Silvana Paternostro
When do the provocative girlie girls turn into discreet wives who put on conservative dresses?
A Note from Contest Judge David Tomas Martinez
It was an Hunahpúan effort to choose only four poems from this extraordinarily strong pool of poems.
A Slice of Writing by Nikkei and Tusán Peruvian Writers
By Jennifer Shyue
Some of them have often called upon their Chinese or Japanese roots; others have alighted upon the topic only a few times, if at all.
Life Is a Pose
By Julio Villanueva Chang
In his spare time, he wears clothes.
Translated from Spanish by Nicolás Medina Mora
Announcing the Winners of the 2020 Poems in Translation Contest
By the Editors of Words Without Borders
In the midst of a pandemic defined by isolation, our second Poems in Translation Contest brought together 935 poems from 448 poets and 87 countries, translated from 58 languages. We are thrilled to announce,…
White City Blues in Arequipa
By Maya Jaggi
The colonial system is still alive in Peru.
Ñe’ ẽ: An Introduction to Contemporary Guaraní Poetry
By Elisa Taber
A real work of Amerindian literature makes perceptible another way of ordering and being in the world.
A Persian New Year Beginning with COVID-19
By Poupeh Missaghi
With the news coming out of Iran, I was already beginning to feel the weight of the ongoing disaster in my body.
Really Real Dragons
By Laia Jufresa
When I go out with my daughter, I herd her along, trying to keep her two meters away from anyone who approaches.
Translated from Spanish by Rosalind Harvey
The Right to Identity: The Queer Issue
By Susan Harris
The characters in the works presented here demand recognition of the full spectrum of Queer experience in often hostile environments.
Ricardo and Vânia
By Chico Felitti
She can't count how many times she had silicone applied to her body.
Translated from Portuguese by Flora Thomson-DeVeaux
Pandemic Diary
By Ricardo Romero
We are bad actors who suddenly find themselves in a leading role.
Translated from Spanish by Charlotte Coombe
What We Lost: COVID-19 Beyond the Numbers
By Hideo Furukawa & Kathleen McCaul Moura
What has the coronavirus taken from us? We need to answer this in a way that isn’t expressed through numbers.
Translated from Japanese by David Boyd
Peripatetics: The Essays of Jazmina Barrera, Karen Villeda, and Mariana Oliver
By Charlotte Whittle
These are essays with a roving gaze whose authors travel through geographic and intellectual spaces with the same ease with which we used to walk around in New York.
Özdamar’s Tongue
By Mariana Oliver
Özdamar knew that arriving in a country with no return ticket meant voluntarily surrendering to an indeterminate foreignness.
Translated from Spanish by Julia Sanches
Visegrád
By Karen Villeda
Women were confined to reading prayer books and religious hymns. And they wrote in the margins. Centuries went by. Those marginalia are, in fact, the books I need to read.
Translated from Spanish by Charlotte Whittle
Yaquina Head
By Jazmina Barrera
Robert Louis Stevenson says that to tour lighthouses is “to visit past centuries.”
Translated from Spanish by Christina MacSweeney
Wuhan Lockdown Diary
By Guo Jing
It was not my plan to start writing a diary, let alone keep doing it for seventy-seven days.
Translated from Chinese by Hongwei Bao
6:00 p.m. after the Quarantine
By Lilya Kalaus
“The world will remain untouchable and unknowable, whether you’re in its corona or not.”
Translated from Russian by Shelley Fairweather-Vega
Islands Running across the Globe
By Manuel Brito-Semedo
Right from the start, Cabo Verdean concepts of identity and individuality were defined by this mixed reality: the African and the European, in all their diverse and contrasting characteristics.
Translated from Portuguese by Jethro Soutar
A Form of African Identity
By Germano Almeida
It was only very gradually that we came to understand that the Europeans, out of malice or simple ignorance, had instilled in us our reluctance to accept our condition as Africans.
Translated from Portuguese by Stephen Henighan
Cabo Verde Is the Center of the World
By Germano Almeida
In those days the island of Boa Vista was the whole world.
Translated from Portuguese by Stephen Henighan
A Thundering Silence
By Felipe Restrepo Pombo
She stared at me in horror before hurrying off as fast as she could.
Translated from Spanish by Ezra E. Fitz
Time-Travelers, Fisherwomen, and Sleuths: Arabic Young Adult Literature
By Elisabeth Jaquette
While Arabic publishing has historically focused on literature for adults and young children, recent years have seen an increasing number of titles aimed at a young adult readership.
The Essential Business of Books: 5 Rare Book Dealers at the NY International Antiquarian Book Fair
By Susannah Greenblatt
From March 5–8, 2020, over 170 rare book dealers from 18 countries gathered at the Park Avenue Armory for the 60th Annual New York International Antiquarian Book Fair. In the weeks since the fair,…
Words Without Borders Announces 2020 Poems in Translation Contest
David Tomas Martinez to JudgeWinning Poems to Be Published on Poem-a-Day and WWB We’re pleased to announce the 2020 WWB Poems in Translation Contest spotlighting groundbreaking work by poets…
Plague Diary, March 23, 2020
By Gonçalo M. Tavares
“They say that even the smallest particles, like the virus, atoms, etc., make a sound . . .
Translated from Portuguese by Daniel Hahn
Deceptive Simplicity: International Children’s Literature
By Daniel Hahn
I often feel that adults forget what children’s stories are capable of.