Essays

  •  Sept. 2009 WLT Many of Laila Lalami’s childhood memories while growing up in Morocco feature books written in French. This early exposure led her to write in French at a young age and almost exclusively throughout her teens and early twenties. Wanting to cast off the colonial baggage that accompanied writing Moroccan stories in French but feeling her liter...
  •  May 2007 WLT Don’t think I believe the people erected this statue to mebecause I know better than you that I commissioned it myself.Nor do I pretend to pass into posterity with itbecause I know the people will tear it down someday.Nor do I wish to give myself in lifea monument you would never raise to me in death:I erected this statue because I knew you would hate it.—Ernesto C...
  •  Sept. 2007 WLT My friend, the late Vine Deloria Jr., once chided me for remarking too often a time when dogs could talk. I had to admit that he was probably right. I had discovered that Kiowa elders used this formula to indicate something that had happened far back in time. This or that happened a long time ago when dogs could talk. It seems to me a charming and approp...
  •  March 2009 WLT The moment we open a book and yield to the adventurous challenge, we assert that our place of residence is in the Republic of Letters. It cannot be found in any world atlas; its borders are unstable and passionately negotiated time and again. With every story read, with every verse quietly recounted, we renew our citizenship in the republic....
  •  July 2009 WLT When I Google my name online and click on result seventy-two, say—way down past the sites featuring remaindered copies of my books for as little as one penny plus shipping and handling, but a bit before the cemetery lists including dead people bearing my first or last name—I find “Rilla Askew” on a variety of Fiction Diversity Lists. I’m on a North American Native Authors...
  • An interloper in a male world, Yrsa Roca Fannberg in her Barcelona FC watercolors paints the "ordinary gestures" that the experts often ignore. Female Control by Yrsa Roca FannbergFull portfolio: http://yrsarocafannberg.info/index.html Yrsa Roca Fannberg's quixotic blog, art versus sport (artversussport.blogspot.com), is what the title promises, a site pulled in these opposi...
  • Illustration by Joel Felix
    Illustration by Joel Felix A cofounder of the NSK Prize looks back to the award’s inspired inception and finds, a decade later, a strong tradition of excellence in honoring the best in children’s literature. It all started back in 2000 while I was reading a picture book to my then three-year-old daughter, Tess. A dream to start a...
  • The meeting ground between science and literature has never been so busy. Not only have the last few years seen a proliferation of anthologies such as Riffing on Strings: Creative Writing Inspired by String Theory and Signs and Humours: The Poetry of Medicine, but there has also been a blossoming of conferences, research centers, and foundations dedicated to examining the common...
  • For guest editor George Henson, it’s been a long journey from reading The Front Runner in 1977 in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, to writing about queer lit for World Literature Today. But just as he has found his place here, the writers featured in this issue have taken their place alongside a long list of notable world authors. Photo: www.flickr.com/people/airadam Photo...
  •    March 2013
    The essence of photography is writing with light. It is the visual language that we use daily and increasingly communicate with. Millions of photographs appear everyday in newspapers, magazines, books, catalogs, passports, movies, billboards, and the Internet. Whereas photography initially set out to capture and to collect, today it seeks to discover and to publish. Since the genesis of photograp...
  • “If the law permeates our lives before we are born, reaching even into the womb, so too do stories, guaranteeing that law and literature will remain intimate bedfellows in the years to come.” Deji Olukotun, PEN American Center’s Freedom to Write Fellow, introduces our special section on law and literature. “It’s being ground to bits in a slow mill; it’s being roasted at a slow...
  • Sudden, Flash, Nano, Short-Short, Micro, Minificción . . . "I usually compare the novel to a mammal, be it wild as a tiger or tame as a cow; the short story to a bird or a fish; the micro story to an insect (iridescent in the best cases)."—Luisa Valenzuela  Photo by GrantandCaroline/Flickr Is very short fiction a renaissance or a reinvention? Are these stories defi...
  • It’s not only individual lives that Mistry paints with such meticulousness; it’s how he stretches his canvas to embrace the wider world that makes his work comparable to the contemporary giants of literature. Rohinton Mistry. Photo by Shevaun Williams. I was in graduate school at Ohio University in the late 1980s, an aspiring writer from Nepal, when I read Rohinton M...
  • Are science and poetry inherently at odds with one another? Poet and cognitive scientist Pireeni Sundaralingam explores the nature of interactions between these two disciplines. Journeying through the pantheon of forms that make up life on this planet, we encounter a host of different relationships between species; while there are those that hunt each other down for foo...
  • Photo illustration by Mary Wuestewald There are, as evidenced by the working-class literature special issue of World Literature Today, many working-class writers around the world. However, the desire of working-class poets to share their writing with working-class communities could not be fulfilled if the writing did not reach its intended audience. Literary journals, magazines, and sma...
  •    March 2013
    Last year, thousands of Tibetan students took to the streets to protest the Chinese government’s decision to conduct all elementary and high school education in the official Chinese language, Mandarin. China has recently mandated that all children go through grade nine and has plans to increase it to grade twelve soon. If Tibetan nomads fail to send their children to school, they get fined. In or...
  • The seven poems published on the following pages are the offspring of a happy, twenty-first century union—between the ancient art of poetry and the Internet. In March 2011 twenty or so Russian and American poets, scholars, and translators assembled virtually—via a document cloud—to work on new translations from Russian into English and vice versa. This group brought together individuals from acro...
  •    July 2012
    Scenes from Marina Carr’s By the Bog of Cats, directed by Susan ShaughnessyUniversity of OklahomaMarch 10–14, 2012 Photos: Ty Johnson / The Oklahoma Daily Marina Carr’s 1998 play, By the Bog of Cats, was the third collaboration between World Literature Today and the Peggy Dow Helmrich School of Drama under my d...
  •   Evening Time Ha Jong-o  On the subway at evening rush hourI called my wife to say I was on my way home.Hearing a familiar voice, I looked round,among the exhausted people on their way home,and saw myself, with a small body, short legs and arms,pushing the numbers on my phonethen talking to myself withoutthinking of my fellow-commuters.Judging by his clothes,he was a day laborer;judging by his f...
  •    May 2012
      For more, see the gallery of Al-Mutanabbi Street Broadsides. In March 2007 a car-bomb suicide attack destroyed the entire perimeter of Al-Mutanabbi Street, the heart and soul of Baghdad’s intellectual and cultural community for centuries. Responding to this tragedy, artists from all over the world have come to share a sense of solidarity as well as ownership in a project that refus...
  • Daffodils and Raindrops
    Photo by Fey Ilyas/Flickr The immense space of the supersensible. . . is filled for us with dark night.— Immanuel Kant The historical conditions that gave rise to Romanticism are still with us. So why would it be surprising that contemporary world writers look toward the techniques of Wordsworth,...
  •    March 2012
    The first time I spoke with Anthony Shadid was over the phone in September of last year, while driving north on Interstate 35 between Oklahoma City and Stillwater. I can't recall where in the world of foreign reportage he told me he was, but I do distinctly remember being far more nervous than I'd been at any time during my undergraduate studies at the University of Oklahoma, which I'd finished o...
  •    March 2011
    Listening suggestion: While reading Camp's essay, listen to Louis Armstrong’s version of the Fats Waller song “Black and Blue," available for streaming on YouTube. Can a writer ever hope to successfully render an aural form in words? Can that writer make it possible for us to appreciate what we might otherwise hear? To complicate the chance of adequately capturing sound, try asking that writer...
  • Eduard Màrquez
    Written in the wake of the Barcelona Olympics, Eduard Màrquez’s Zugzwang reflects the tensions of a culture straining against its minor status with aspirations toward a cosmopolitan outlook. It mines the rich vein of experimental narrative in the United States to make something wholly—and weirdly—Catalan. Eduard Màrquez. Photo by Toni Coll Tort Today, to advocate cosmo...
  •    March 2012
    Left: Rosa Motero, photo by Violeta Lama. Right: Empar Moline, photo by Jordi Play. Of the many trends in literary journalism today, the use of humor to convey sociocultural critiques continues to be one of the major forces in work by Spanish women. The tradition of literary journalism in Spain stretches back to at least the nineteenth century, when Mariano José de Larra regularly wield...

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