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

Debbie WenJennifer Acker Writes About Issue 11 in Amherst Magazine

Related Posts

vaudeville

Before Vaudeville was the Next Big Thing

MARC VINCENZ
So—in they slot and plop in their perfectly/ burnished 180-calorie-sandwiched-glory:/ a delectable mélange well-clothed in filigrees/ of dietary fibers, sodium, zero trans fat/ and generously acidic to keep the heebie-jeebies / at bay—(some, they say, reach as far as Antarctica

The Common’s 10 Most-Read Pieces of 2018

It seems like a great time to reflect on the pieces that made 2018 an exciting time for us! See what resonated with readers the most in 2018 by browsing the list below to survey our most-read works of the past year: they range from fiction to essays, interviews, and more.

FAQ WW vol 2

FAQ: Weekly Writes Vol. 2

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. Because the scaffolded prompts build on one piece week after week, you will want to work in order even if you fall behind.