Jennifer Acker Writes About Issue 11 in Amherst Magazine

Amherst Magazine recently published a piece by Editor in Chief Jennifer Acker about the difficulties and delights of bringing Issue 11, Tajdeed, into the world. The first of its kind in the US, this issue contained all Arabic fiction in translation – the work of 26 authors, five artists, 18 translators from 17 countries. It was a “labor of love” from start to finish.

Jennifer Acker photo

“Tell me the story of your romance with the Arabic written word.” The journalist asking was from The National, Abu Dhabi’s English-language newspaper. She wanted to know why we’d devoted an issue of The Common, Amherst’s literary magazine, to Arabic fiction. Editing Tajdeed: Contemporary Arabic Stories had been a labor of love, but it had not been romantic. Just as setting off naively for “the West” or “the Far East”—destinations that are grand notions rather than findable locations—is romantic in inspiration, but in reality involves a lot of getting lost and stuck in the mud.

Magazine Cover

The inspiration to create Tajdeed came while my husband, Amherst philosophy professor Nishi Shah, and I were teaching for a year in Abu Dhabi in 2012–13, and my return this past April was cause for celebration and reflection.

It was also an opportunity to meet Hisham Bustani, my co-editor, who lives in Amman, Jordan. For four years, we had worked together electronically to conceptualize, edit, publish and promote Tajdeed, coordinating 26 authors, five visual artists and 18 translators from 17 countries.

After publishing his short story “Freefall in a Shattered Mirror,” The Common’s first piece of literature translated from Arabic, Hisham and I discovered a shared idea for an English-language compendium of new Arabic writing. Superficially, we were an excellent team, with complementary skills and contacts. Still, we did not know how well we would work together over a long and improvised journey. Most important: Would we agree on the literary merit of the writing?

This question was doubly vexed because we experienced the texts in different languages. Hisham could judge the originals, but I had to rely on translations.

Read the rest here: http://amhrst.is/FirstWords-Summer17

Browse, buy, or teach Issue 11 here: https://www.thecommononline.org/issues/issue-11

Jennifer Acker Writes About Issue 11 in Amherst Magazine

Related Posts

Staff of The Common smiling and laughing

The Common is Hiring: Be Our Next Interviews Editor

The Interviews Editor organizes and edits a monthly interview feature for The Common Online. (Examples of recent interviews can be found here or here.) Additional interviews may be coordinated by TC’s central editorial team, in consultation with the Interviews Editor. A biannual honorarium is available for this position.

Issue 20 cover with cake

Issue 20, Fall 2020: 10 Years of The Common

Issue 20 of The Common will be here this fall. Subscribe by September 30 to find this hot pink celebration in your mailbox! This issue includes a portfolio of writing from and about the Lusosphere: Portugal's colonial and linguistic diaspora.

cartoon writing desk

FAQ: Weekly Writes

Q: What if I’m busy and can’t work on the week’s prompts? Will they expire? A: No. While we hope that writing every week is part of your program experience, we understand that life gets in the way. The prompts are yours to download and keep, so you can start writing whenever you have time.