Fiction

  • The Firebird by Saikat Majumdar
       May 2015
    In late-twentieth-century India, a boy whose mother is a stage actress grows up in a traumatic relationship with a viscerally compelling but dying art form—commercial theatre.  The sprawling stone turrets of the temple spread out against the sky like the petals of a lotus. It did not look like a temple but a palace that had weathered hundreds and hundreds of years. There was none of the...
  • Moniru Ravanipour. Photo by Aaron Mayes
       March 2015
    To accompany Omid Fallahazad’s interview with Ravanipour that appears in the March 2015 print edition, the Feminist Press has generously granted WLT permission to reprint the title story from The Shipwrecked: Contemporary Stories by Women from Iran. You can also read a review of the story collection in this issue of WLT. Moniru Ravanipour. Photo by Aaron Mayes....
  • Photo by Randall Epp
    A man finishes a cedar hall closet, a wedding gift for his wife, but is the time he spends creating something perfect revealing something flawed? Photo by Randall Epp Sam found him in the workshop, arranging the new tools on the shadow board—he’d put all the screws in and was now carefully drawing each shape in thick black marker. It felt satisfying lining them all up like this—vices,...
  • Cup of tea by a window
    Photo by Victoria Calligo y Solivella While Slovene writer Polona Glavan’s debut novel explored the journey of young Europeans, in the following story, two widowed neighbors form a routine that allows them to look back together. When a few days in a row pass and Anton hasn’t stopped by, I know that means his blood pressure has spiked. He must rest, he says, getting up...
  • A Nutmeg Mannikin bird. Photo by Noel Reynolds.
    Photo by Noel Reynolds/Flickr “Birds” is one of the interrelated stories in Tianqiao shang de moshushi (Magician on the overpass), published in Taiwan in 2011. The entire collection is set in Chinese Plaza (Zhonghua shangchang) in downtown Taipei in the 1970s–1980s. I began raising birds the year I started elementary school.  Before that, I went to the wet mar...
  • Illustration by Marla Johnson
       March 2014
    Žydrūnas Drungilas’s first book, Kita stotelė (Next stop), is a collection of texts in various genres, some verging on science fiction, some with recurring characters, subtitled “an explosive mix of absurdity.” Audio reading by Arthur Dixon   Illustration by Marla Johnson I was l...
  • Barcelona Streets
    Photo by Fernando Rodríguez/Flickr Zugzwang: a chess position where any move is disadvantageous. Eduard Màrquez applies the term to his characters who, he observes, “are subjected to forces and situations that prove too great for them.” While leaving the metro, bored and devoid of any desire to return home, Alberci Riner began to tail a man carrying a case for a musical instrument. Desp...
  • Via Prenestina. Photo by Carlo Busini/Flickr In contrast to Michela Murgia’s Il mondo deve sapere (see WLT, Nov. 2013, 43–46), Peppe Fiore’s Nessuno è indispensabile (Anyone can be replaced) is sardonic, even cynical, and Fiore’s protagonist is not a young and disarming telemarketer but Michele Gervasini, the disillusioned, thirty-six-yea...
  • On the eve of his thirtieth birthday, the narrator recounts three near-death experiences and his journey from Morocco to France. With nods toward Dostoevsky and Genet (echoing the Lazarus scene between Raskolnikov and Sonya in Crime and Punishment), he experiences a crisis of existential vertigo. Photo by Davide Cassanello I’m afraid. I’m not afraid. I’m stro...
  •    July 2013
    Alberto Chimal published these stories in Spanish as “An Alphabet of Twitter-Stories: A Study by Horacio Kustos” (@hkustos) in summer 2012. In a self-interview Chimal published in Casa del Tiempo, he commented on his Twitter minifiction work: “The texts continue to demand a particular attention from the readers—to the delayed effect of the extremely short text, who...
  •    May 2013
    Photo by crowdive/Flickr Based on a legend from eighteenth-century Bengal, Shokhi Rongomala is Shaheen Akhtar’s third novel. The book follows Rongomala, a beautiful and charismatic lower-caste woman who becomes the mistress of Raj Chandra Chowdhury, a zamindar or upper-caste feudal landlord. The zamindar’s womanizing allows his uncle, Rajendra Narayan Chowdhury, to...
  •    May 2013
    Photo by Tortured Mind Photography/Flickr Once again using the lens provided by detective fiction, Leonardo Padura magnifies various aspects of Cuban reality for his readers.  “La muerte pendular de Raimundo Manzanero” appears here for the first time translated in English. News Last Sunday, October 21, at 4:23 p.m., Raimundo Manzanero, forty-six years...
  • Marie and Frank were lifelong renters, and though moving their things out of a house was like unloading a ship, their old house didn’t sail away. It sat there, on the South Dakota plains, waiting—  Photo Nicholas A. Tonelli Frank had never been one to fight back in the heat of any moment. He would usually wait a few days and then state his opposition to some plan or an...
  • Photo Shannalee/Flickr In the first translation of his work into English, South Korean writer Kim Kyŏnguk imagines an ad executive confronting a man who may be his former school nemesis. And as in other anxious moments, he craves one thing: 99 percent chocolate. There are times when I want something sweet. Like when I’m up all night waiting for an idea that...
  • During the time my father was in the hospital, it made sense to leave the car in the hospital’s underground garage. I would stop at the top of the entrance’s small abyss and let my white Opel slide down the ramp. I’d stop to press the button, pass underneath the bar, and begin to look for a spot. I always found one.  I detested going to the hospital, feigning a serenity that I didn’t have, squeez...
  • In a haze of marijuana and beer, a vacationing photojournalist discusses the state of humanity with a West Indian boy. What are we without our addictions, our distractions, and are we doomed if we hold onto them? Photo by jgarber/Flickr “Get off your iPad,” Hugh Copley said. He was lying in a hammock tied between two palm trees. The hammock had been there forever—or at...
  • www.flickr.com/people/paloetic “Everything has a price,” but how do you put a price tag on the human condition? In Mahmoud Saeed’s unflinching story of abjection and brutality, the moral cost of war is calculated on the balance sheet of a single human life. She opened the door of the trailer, the rising sunlight submerging her. The still air was saturated with extreme humidity,...
  • As this story about changing laws and changing times in South Africa reveals, repealing the letter of a law will not necessarily kill its insidious spirit. Photo illustration by Jen Rickard. Vuyo, the book (which is entitled The Visitor), felt very lonely, cold, and claustrophobic. It was difficult to breathe. This was not Robben Island, but for him i...
  • In this tongue-in-cheek story from Ethiopia, a man ponders his spending habits, his proposal to regulate Ethiopian beggars, and whether to end his own life.    1.  I walked from Haya Hulet Mazoria to Arat Kilo. Walking is good for the health–it saves you from the headaches that come from having to pay for taxis. Another advantage is being able to admire God’s handiwork i...
  • To the revolutionaries of Egypt who left their couches and burnt their televisions It’s raining again. Like the winters of my childhood. But my head has changed and is covered in scars. It’s not as light as it used to be. It’s raining. A shower of the Imam’s heavy words falls on my head from the nearby minaret. The last Friday in January isn’t a regular day in my room. Inside th...
  • For several days, it is quiet in the apartment. The sister and brother are playing quietly, and Daddy and Mama are not talking. The silence is thick and heavy. It echoes sometimes, too, when the boy and the girl stand between their parents and ask questions, which both have to answer at the same time. Then one day Mama comes home from work early. The brother isn’t there yet, and Daddy is working....
  • Photo by uopfindsomt/Flickr For Daniel Sada   The dedication was short and impersonal, followed by the unlikely signature: Lauro H. Batallón. Santiago held the copy in his open hand. He seemed to weigh the words of every page, confirming the grammage of the sentences to detect the core of deception. The author didn’t exist; or rather, he had existed, but somewhere in his imagin...
  •    July 2012
    Apologia? Manifesto? Confessional? In this stream-of-consciousness narrative, a Havana drag queen tells her story. “Fátima, Queen of the Night,” published here for the first time, won Cuban writer Miguel Barnet the Juan Rulfo prize for short fiction in 2006.  Photo by Josephine Caruana/Flickr     When I was seven years old, the Virgin of Fátima appeared to me in the kitchen of my house i...
  • Nov. 2009 WLT Writer Mikhail Shishkin won Russia’s 2005 National Bestseller Prize and the 2006 Big Book Prize for his novel Maidenhair, whose narrator works in an immigration off ice in Switzerland interpreting the interviews of asylum seekers from war-torn former Soviet republics. In the following excerpt, the interpreter and his wife have gone to Massa Lu...
  • Sept. 2010 WLT Reinaldo Arenas was born in a small village in Cuba’s Oriente province on July 16, 1943. He was an early supporter of the Cuban Revolution, joining the rebels in the mountains when he was just fifteen years old. By the late 1960s, however, Arenas’s writings and his open homosexuality brought him into increasing conflict with the Cuban authorities, who took a dim view of de...

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