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Nonfiction

Deceptive Simplicity: International Children’s Literature
By Daniel Hahn
I often feel that adults forget what children’s stories are capable of.
Beyond Representation: Life Writing by Women in Arabic
By Sawad Hussain & Nariman Youssef
One cannot write about real-life experiences from the place of the “I” without laying claim to a place in the world.
Communism in Style
By Nadia Kamel
What I'm trying to say is that we didn't have a sense of how dangerous it all was.
Translated from Arabic by Brady Ryan & Essayed Taha
Multilingual
Six Proposals for Participation in a Conversation about Bread
By Rasha Abbas
“That’s what we get for supporting Communism: standing in line for this black loaf.”
Translated from Arabic by Alice Guthrie
University Student
By Sahar Khalifeh
I was a woman: young, alone, divorced, left without a guardian or virtue, meaning that in society’s eyes I was an easy target.
Translated from Arabic by Sawad Hussain
Razor Blade Rattle and the Beginnings of Being Tamed
By Ishraga Mustafa
How could they, when these women themselves had been through so much pain?
Translated from Arabic by Sawad Hussain
Multilingual
Living in a Sci-Fi Movie: An Italian Screenwriter on Coronavirus
By Silvia Ranfagni
I’m living in a sci-fi movie. In fact, you are too. It’s a strange movie and the popcorn tastes of hand sanitizer.
For the Love of the Books
By Habibe Jafarian
I was determined; one day I’d marry a book.
Translated from Persian by Salar Abdoh
Learn
Urdu Feminist Writing: New Approaches
By Asad Alvi, Amna Chaudhry, Mehak Faisal Khan, Anjuli Fatima Raza Kolb, Geeta Patel & Haider Shahbaz
A dispiriting narrowness has defined canons of Urdu feminist writing from previous decades.
A New Year for Everyone
By Hijab Imtiaz
So this is what the new year of those who worship this life looks like!
Translated from Urdu by Sascha Akhtar
Sappho’s Ephemera
By Miraji
Her sagacity immortalized even her scattered, sporadic axioms.
Translated from Urdu by Geeta Patel
Letter from Beirut: Writing as Memory in the “Capital of Amnesia”
By Maya Jaggi
If the collapse of the nation-state reinvented the Lebanese novel, its reconstitution could galvanize literature.
Enduring Tales: The Qatari Oral Tradition
By Autumn Watts
The stories are abundant with social wisdom, moral instruction, and cultural knowledge.
Framing the Story: Six Graphic Narratives
By Susan Harris
These artists capture both words and images to convey narratives individual and collective.
Dispatches from the 2019 FIL in Guadalajara, Mexico
By Victor Meadowcroft
Victor Meadowcroft reports from the 2019 international book fair in Guadalajara, where he attended panel discussions and launches, browsed the booths of innumerable international publishers, and interviewed…
We Usually Ask Literature to Be Humanizing Only When It’s from “Over There”
By M. Lynx Qualey
Our dignified survival as a species probably depends on finding ways to listen to each other.
The Reader’s Openness to the Unfamiliar
By Emmanuel Iduma
When we ask whether international literature can make us better travelers, who are the supposed beneficiaries?
On the “Good” in “Good Traveler”
By Shahnaz Habib
Travel is a self-improvement project that has been sold to us as a world-improvement project.
The Desire to Travel Responsibly Must Come before the Desire to Learn through Literature
By Tomaso Biancardi
There is a surer way for international literature to make us better tourists.
Words Without Borders Receives 2020 National Endowment for the Arts Grant
By Words Without Borders
New York, New York, January 16, 2020—The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced yesterday awards totaling more than $27 million in its first funding round of fiscal year 2020, including an…
A Note from the Editors: January 2020
By the Editors of Words Without Borders
A note from the editors on the occasion of our Rojava poetry feature.
Beyond the Headlines: Poetry from Rojava
By Shook
These poems display the health and vitality of a literature that has already proved to be a potent medium for self-expression, a grounds for linguistic experimentation, and an important declaration of autonomy itself.
Road Stories: International Writing on Travel
By Susan Harris
Some of the writers here document their own trips, while others invent characters and send them on the road.
Forced Confessions: On True Crime Writing
By Susan Harris
The pieces here map the translation of event into prose—the creation of true crime writing.
The Sixth Victim
By Shōko Egawa
It all began about the time that the men and women were finishing their first drinks.
Translated from Japanese by David Boyd
The Pain of Others
By Miguel Ángel Hernández
Twenty years ago, one Christmas Eve, my best friend killed his sister and threw himself off a cliff.
Translated from Spanish by Anna Milsom
Lusia Murdered
By Cezary Łazarewicz
“Must you put on a fur when someone shouts ‘murder'?
Translated from Polish by Sean Gasper Bye
A picture of a choppy ocean
Photo by John Towner on Unsplash
Massacre in the Pacific: A Personal Account
By Du Qiang
It's not a crime to kill someone on the high seas, you know.
Translated from Chinese by Nicky Harman & Emily Jones
Exploring Italian Language, Rap, and Migration through Translation
By Donatella Melucci
In my Italian translation course at Georgetown University, advanced students of Italian learn about translation theory and practice (English-Italian, and vice versa) of different genres, including newspaper…
Other Lives, Other Worlds
By Susan Harris
The results of these confrontations range from triumphant to catastrophic as the boundaries between worlds dissolve.
(Re)writing the Philippines: An Introduction
By Kristian Sendon Cordero & Kristine Ong Muslim
The works we have selected challenge a monolithic view of the fragmented histories and interconnected, overlapping cultures in the Philippines.
Translated from Filipino by Kristine Ong Muslim
“Languages Constantly Crackling in the Air”
By the Editors of Words Without Borders
Not enough is known about the Philippines.
Across Mountains and Valleys: Stories of Migration from the Kinnaur and Spiti Valleys
By Arshia Sattar
Despite their specificity, these tales transcend the places that produced them and throb with a universal appeal.
Warning: Arabic Humor, Makes Frequent Stops
By M. Lynx Qualey
Humor has that paradoxical quality of being absolutely universal while also being deeply embedded in linguistic wordplay and sociocultural zeitgeist.
The Book of Stupid People
By Ibn al-Jawzī
I shall tell you about one of the nitwits.
Translated from Arabic by Emily Jane Selove
Edith Grossman, Renowned Translator and Advocate for Translation, to Receive 2019 Ottaway Award
By Words Without Borders
We are pleased to announce that Edith Grossman will receive the 2019 Ottaway Award for the Promotion of International Literature.“In a career that spans over half a century—translating, teaching…
Writing Dreams: New Norwegian Literature
By Kari Dickson
Norway is a dream that many people carry.
The Winners of the Words Without Borders—Academy of American Poets Poem-in-Translation Contest
By the Editors of Words Without Borders
We received 717 poems from 282 poets from 87 countries translated from 55 languages.
The Whale That Blinked
By Andreas Tjernshaugen
In the Antarctic in particular, the blue whale nearly died out.
Translated from Norwegian by Lucy Moffatt
Deciphered Desire
By Rebecca Dinerstein Knight
I soon learned that Norwegians deliver praise in the past tense.
Announcing the Winners of the 2019 Poems in Translation Contest
By the Editors of Words Without Borders
This year, we partnered with the Academy of American Poets for our first ever poetry in translation contest. We received 717 poems from 282 poets from 87 countries translated…
The Women of the Strega
By Chiara Marchelli
This year, among the dozen longlisters for Italy’s most important literary award, the Premio Strega, seven were women. The presence of titles written by women on the Strega longlist has never…
Unfamiliar Riverbank: Contemporary Chinese Religious Poetry
By Eleanor Goodman
The Tang Dynasty poets translated by the Beat Generation poets are often associated with the totality of Chinese poetry.
Reimagined Communities: An Introduction to Welsh Writing
By Casi Dylan
In a world reimagining its cultural and political axes, Welsh-language literature gives voice to an experience more necessary and valuable now than ever.
Notes from the Classroom: On Teaching Translation
By Jenny McPhee
I am old enough to remember when creative writing was something you “couldn’t teach” and was considered by the academy to be a less than legitimate area of study. (Journalism didn’t…
A Year Among the Boat People, My People
By Amir Ahmadi Arian
What brings people together isn’t language. If anything, when times are hard, shared language can deepen divisions.
Learn
The Queer “I”: The Tenth Queer Issue
By Susan Harris
All the pieces are told in the first person, lending intimacy and immediacy to the events they describe.
Korean Literature Is Stepping Out
By Anton Hur
Now, thanks to our authors, we’re ready to step forth into the sun.
Words Without Borders Launches Poems in Translation Contest
By the Editors of Words Without Borders
Words Without Borders Launches Poems in Translation ContestMónica de la Torre to Judge We're pleased to announce a new contest to spotlight some of the groundbreaking poets working around…
Introducing WWB’s Digital Marketing and Communications Coordinator, Susannah Greenblatt
By Words Without Borders
We’re pleased to welcome Susannah Greenblatt as WWB’s digital marketing and communications coordinator. Susannah is a writer, filmmaker, and translator from the Spanish, and she…
How to Be a Woman in Tehran
By Habibe Jafarian
Any way you look at it, it’s this town that taught me to be ruthless.
Translated from Persian by Salar Abdoh
Learn
PEN World Voices Feature: “Under My Feet, My Whole Body,” by Marcia Tiburi
By Marcia Tiburi
Brazilian writer, philosopher, and activist Marcia Tiburi currently lives in Pittsburgh, where she is writer-in-residence at City of Asylum. On Saturday, May 11, she will join Scholastique Mukasonga…
Translated by ​Magdalena Edwards
Our 2019 PEN World Voices Festival Itinerary
By Words Without Borders
The fifteenth annual PEN World Voices Festival kicks off today in New York City. From May 6–12, writers from around the world will participate in conversations, readings, translation…
Unsettled: New Writing from Oman
By Ghayde Ghraowi & Ahd Niazy
Unsettlement, a lack of centeredness, manifests itself throughout each of the works in this issue.
Italian Speculative Microfiction in Translation: Three Writers
By Rachel Cordasco
Speculative fiction is alive and well in Italy.
Translated from Italian
Behind Closed Doors: Outing the New Chilean Narrative
By Lina Meruane
Contrary to the epic, totalizing, and politically engaged narratives of the Latin American Boom, the scope of the stories here is narrow, intimate, more local than ever before.
Mozambique, A Land of Poets
By Sandra Tamele
The selection here is proposed not as a definitive list of the major Mozambican poets working today but rather a jumping-off point, a gesture toward the diversity of themes and styles to be found in the contemporary literature of Mozambique.
Translated from Portuguese
International Literary Women & Organizations that Balance for Better
By Words Without Borders
For International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating women and organizations from around the globe who advocate for greater gender parity in the literary world. Through publishing and activism,…
Interiors and Interpretations: New Writing from Indonesia
By Susan Harris
The authors here represent a range of genres and topics in settings extending from distant planets to the very center of the earth.
Geology
By Nirwan Dewanto
When I realize that I am only writing in a national language, it is precisely geography that adds to its meaning.
Translated from Indonesian by George A. Fowler