Noor Naga speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about co-editing The Common’s first-of-its-kind portfolio of writing from the Arabian Gulf, which appeared in Issue 22. Noor penned an introduction to the portfolio, titled “Who Writes the Arabian Gulf?”, which explores her experience growing up in the Gulf with no real contemporary literature written for, by, or about that diverse population. Noor discusses her idea to create the portfolio, what she enjoyed about assembling it from submissions, and what themes unite the pieces that became part of it. She also talks about her forthcoming novel from Graywolf Press, and why an earlier novel didn’t find a home in publishing.
Podcast: Noor Naga on “Who Writes the Arabian Gulf?”
Mary O’Donoghue speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her story “Safety Advice for Staying Indoors,” which appears in The Common’s fall issue. Mary talks about crafting a story that explores two points of view within the same Irish family, both stuck inside during a strong storm, both coping with loss. She also discusses her work translating Irish-language poets, her interest in stories that require the reader to connect their own dots, and what it’s like to edit fiction for AGNI while writing her own short stories, too.
Podcast: Mary O’Donoghue on “Safety Advice for Staying Indoors”
Priyanka Sacheti speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her essay “Oman is Mars: An Alien All Along,” which appears in a portfolio of writing from the Arabian Gulf, in The Common’s fall issue. In this conversation, Priyanka talks about her feeling of not belonging anywhere—born in Australia to an Indian family, but growing up in Oman as a third culture kid. She also discusses her work as a poet and an artist, and her experience being stranded between countries during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Podcast: Priyanka Sacheti on “Oman is Mars: An Alien All Along”
Carin Clevidence speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her essay “Ghosts of the Southern Ocean,” which appears in The Common’s fall issue. In this conversation, Carin talks about how her experiences traveling to Antarctica on expeditions have changed over the years, and how that change comes through in her writing. She also discusses her 2011 novel The House on Salt Hay Road, and the novel she’s recently completed about an expedition to Antarctica.
Podcast: Carin Clevidence on “Ghosts of the Southern Ocean”
Julian Zabalbeascoa speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about his story “Igerilara,” which appears in The Common’s fall issue. In this conversation from San Sebastián, Julian talks about writing stories set in Spain during the Spanish Civil War and the Basque Conflict. He also discusses his love of travel and his experiences running study abroad programs for college students, and what it’s like to teach The Common in his classes at UMass Lowell.
As the car passed the Flag and sped toward Za’abeel, Avi’s crisp V’s became softer and less pronounced—“wees,” even. By the time he crossed Sana Signal, coffee shops and villas having given way to the old city’s chai stalls and low-rise apartments, the languid, questioning “ahs” at the ends of his sentences had been abandoned, the tongue clicks dropped. “Paps, what time do we have to make a move to the souq?” he said to his dad on the phone, sounding like just another Bur Dubai kid. “Okay, I’ll be downstairs in an hour.” He gestured to the driver to pull up outside his building and hopped out, throwing the Capri-Sonne straw he had been chewing all the way from school onto the pavement. His gait had changed, too: on the Jumeirah side of the Flag, he adopted the exaggerated chest-swivel of the Khaleeji, ass jutting out, body taking up far more real estate than someone of his frame reasonably should. Here, however, he stepped within himself.
There were rules, though. If even one lochal or premium expat were spotted, accents would be drawn. Intonations would warp midway, vowels replaced with dressier ones like guest bedsheets.
Last year, I wandered through Greece, knocking on all the gates of Hades. I walked along the Acheron River, whose icy blue waters seemed colored by the spirits of the dead. Stalactites dripped onto the back of my neck as a silent boatman ferried me through the caves of Diros. I searched for the entrance to the sea cave at Cape Tainaron, scrambling over sharp rocks below the lighthouse as darkness fell. Sometimes I wondered if my search for the underworld tempted the Fates. I remembered Orpheus, the father of music, who charmed beasts with his lyre and descended into Tainaron to find his lost bride, Eurydice. With song, he implored Hades and Persephone to bring her back to life, and his words moved the deathless gods to tears. They granted his wish, allowing him to lead her out of the underworld on one condition: he must walk ahead of her, not looking back until they left the dark halls of death. Approaching the surface, the farthest reach of light, Orpheus feared his love’s silence behind him. He turned to look and saw her sink back into the depths, reaching out to him and bidding him farewell for the last time.