Translator Elisabeth Jaquette speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about four stories she translated from Arabic for Issue 19 of The Common magazine. These stories appear in a special portfolio of fiction from established and emerging Sudanese writers. In this conversation, Jaquette talks about the delights and difficulties of translating from Arabic, as well as her thoughts on form, style, and satire in literature from the Arab world. She also discusses translating Minor Detail by Adania Shibli, which is currently a finalist for the National Book Award for Translated Literature.
Podcast: Elisabeth Jaquette on Translating Sudanese Fiction
Writer Omer Friedlander speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about his story “Operation Tamar,” which appears in Issue 19 of The Common magazine. “Operation Tamar” is set in Israel, where Friedlander grew up. In this conversation, Friedlander talks about the setting and inspiration for this story and others, and the editing and revision that went into “Operation Tamar” before publication. He also discusses his current projects, a novel and a short story collection recently sold to Random House for publication.
Tara Skurtu is an American poet and writer, writing coach, and public speaker. She speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about “Offering,” her poem from Issue 19 of The Common magazine. “Offering,” and many more of Skurtu’s poems, are set in Bucharest, Romania, where the poet has lived for several years. Skurtu discusses the inspiration and process behind the poem, her thoughts on teaching creative writing, and her time studying with poet Louise Glück. This conversation also includes the story behind the International Poetry Circle, an online poetry-reading initiative Skurtu started on Twitter in the early days of the pandemic.
Writer David Moloney speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about his story “Counsel,” which appears in Issue 19 of The Common. “Counsel” is an excerpt from Moloney’s novel-in-stories, Barker House, set in a correctional facility in New Hampshire. The book follows nine correctional officers over the course of one year on the job. Moloney discusses his own experiences as a correctional officer in a New Hampshire facility, and the work of turning those complex experiences into stories for the novel. Barker House was published by Bloomsbury in April 2020, so this conversation also includes discussion of what it’s like to publish during a pandemic.
“Miss Val! Miss Val!” A swarm of five-year-olds buzzes around me in the kindergarten playroom. Marni is standing in the middle, feet planted, lower lip sucked in, staring down her blood-coated finger from under her scrunched-up eyebrows as though the finger should have known better. This is leftover hubbub from bigger and scarier trouble in the courtyard, which involved a stuffed monkey, the edge of the sandbox, and a superficial but profusely bleeding head wound, but the ambulance has already left, whisking away the lollipop-loaded victim, and the droplets of blood are being cleaned up outside the courtyard doors.
What if there were no light, he wondered. Just sound & scent owning the night, without the invasive
Surf Shop green neon, or PCH streetlamps glowering at everyone.
Their glint was wrong, false, while the waves sounded
like aloe on a burn, a quick fix.
Some blue & some red lights also flooded the water—flashed
Right before Baby finished ninth grade, Jerry (Baby’s dad) announced that Baby and Carla (Baby’s older sister) would work for him that summer. Baby thought it was a great idea. She would much rather landscape for Jerry than work at one of the three pizza/sub joints in town, or at a basketball camp for kids, which was most of what of her teammates were doing.
Jerry was six-three (two inches taller than Baby) and had a thick mustache and a laugh that rattled fine china. He’d built the house they lived in. In church he sang the loudest and the most out of tune. Six nights a week he did a hundred push-ups. He never took a sick day. It was true what everyone said, that Jerry was the most hardworking, honest man in Waldo County, Maine. The other thing people said was he didn’t suffer fools, but Baby was not one hundred percent sure what this meant, so she couldn’t say if she agreed.