All posts tagged: Fiction

Immersion

By DREW CALVERT

The summer after her senior year, Naomi flew to Indonesia with nineteen other Americans and signed a pledge to immerse herself in Bahasa for three months. She stayed in Malang, a city known for its temperate climate and waterfalls, and spent each day at the local college, learning to speak and read and write, piecing together the world again molecule by molecule. It felt like a second childhood, or like being reincarnated. Mountain was gunung. Friend was teman.

Jangan malu, her tutor would say, when Naomi hesitated. Jangan malu. Don’t be shy. In the evenings, she sent emails to her soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend, who was doing a summer internship at a law firm in Houston. He seemed to require a full legal brief explaining his wrongness for her. Apart from that, she was immersed.

Immersion
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Translation: Master of the House

By AHMET HAMDI TANPİNAR
Translated by AYSEL K. BASCI

Piece appears below in English and the original Turkish.

 

Translator’s Note:

Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar (1901–1962), a renowned 20th-century Turkish author, poet, essayist, intellectual, and educator, wrote two of the finest works in modern Turkish literature: The Time Regulation Institute and A Mind at Peace. In fellow Turkish author Orhan Pamuk’s 2006 Nobel Literature Prize acceptance speech, he thanked Tanpınar for his considerable influence and inspiration as a literary icon. 

Translation: Master of the House
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The Other Side of the Moon

By JESUS FRANCISCO SIERRA 

The day of the moon landing, George and I planned to hunt for rocks. Jorge was his actual name, but he preferred to go by George, like The Beatles guitar man. We were going to look for samples just like the astronauts would.

I sprang out of bed and cranked the window open. Looking out between the twisting glass slats, I noticed the leaves of our lemon tree were still. I hoped it meant the rains would stay away, even though July afternoon downpours in Cuba were as regular as the blood orange sunsets.

After dressing to the sound of Mima’s clanging in the kitchen and the scent of coffee brewing, I sat at the dining table. I dipped a piece of stale Cuban bread into the café-con-leche she’d set there. “It needs sugar,” I said.

“You don’t need more sugar,” she said.

But I didn’t understand why. Sugar was the one thing on the island that wasn’t rationed. 

I asked if she was going to my friend Raul’s house to watch the moon landing. His family had the only working television in the neighborhood.

“Maybe,” she said.

I’d dreamt about the moon landing even before I learned that the Americans were going to do it. Ever since I read Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon, a book George had given me, I’d been imagining a spaceship just like the one in the book: a long, narrow, bullet-like rocket, slicing through the heavens.

Mima wasn’t much of a reader. Not much of a dreamer either. I think that was why she’d never thought of leaving Cuba, even though everyone else seemed to be doing so.

“What are they looking for up there, anyway?” she said. “We have enough to worry about right here.”

The Other Side of the Moon
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The Marker

By JIM WEBER

Dispatch crackles over the cruiser’s radio: brushfire on Ranch Road 580.

Frank lights a cigarette, takes a deep pull. His shift over, he listens, unobligated, as Latimer asks dispatch to confirm the fire’s location.

He stares through the windshield at his house, a squat brick ranch. Scuffed exterior and summer-fried lawn identical to the others on the block. The front window drapes are pulled back, giving the house a grin, like an old friend commiserating: Seven years left on your note, Frank. Three years short of retirement. Tough math.

I’ll sell the place when I retire, Frank thinks, not for the first time. Move to Kerrville, or Boerne, or Bandera. Find a part-time security job to help make ends meet. Latimer talks up New Mexico. Strikes Frank as too far from central Texas, too far from the remains of the life he and Lizzie shared before she passed.

Drapes back means his daughter Caitlyn is up and getting ready for work. Two weeks before she’s off to college in Austin. Who knows if she comes back? Live your entire life in a place, can come to hate it.

The Marker
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Puppets

By MANISHA KULSHRESHTHA
Translated by CHINMAY RASTOGI

Piece appears below in both English and the original Hindi.  

Translator’s Note

Hindi is comprised of words from a variety of regional languages of India and has various dialects. The way people speak it changes almost every hundred kilometers, with the language taking on a new garb and flavor, just like the clothes and food of the people who speak it. What delighted me about this story was the place it is set in and the dialect of the characters. It’s not common to come across literature set in the remote areas of Rajasthan, full of Marwari words (the primary language of the people of the state). As someone who spent most of his life in this state, I was even more invested to present the dialect, life, and customs of the communities.

Puppets
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Belleville

By NANCY LEFENFELD

But after the divorce, he moved back to Belleville. To his old neighborhood, the neighborhood of his youth.

His wife—now ex-wife—hated Belleville. It reminded her of the poor Polish girl she had been. All the years they were together, they lived in Boulogne-Billancourt.

He has a small apartment on the rue du Jourdain. It’s just a few steps from the tabac where he used to buy cigarettes for his father. And it’s practically around the corner from the primary school he attended, on the rue Olivier Métra.

Belleville
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Translation: Sindhu Library

By GEET CHATURVEDI
Translated by ANITA GOPALAN

Piece appears below in both English and the original Hindi.

 

Translator’s Note

There is an inherent quiet music and a brokenness in the story “Sindhu Library” excerpted from Geet Chaturvedi’s fiction Simsim. In its simple external reality, the story thinks with images and situations. There is a delicate textuality in the characterizations that take shape in a kind of leisureliness, be it the old man sitting among tattered books in his library or the balloon woman appearing at the start and end of the story, which is very poetic. I have translated the author’s pauses whenever I could, building a balance between language and sensation, between rhythm and vacuum.

Translation: Sindhu Library
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The Children of the Garden

By ANNIE TRINH

The first time Lilian saw her siblings’ hands sprout from the fertile earth, she hid behind her father’s leg and begged him to be careful. She tugged his fingers as the infant-cries rang through the twilight of crickets and fireflies, telling him that they should hurry before mom came back from the store, but he didn’t listen. Her father looked down with watery eyes and knelt to the ground, trembling. He removed the soil from the newborn babies, took them into the kitchen, and placed them in the sink. Monoecious plants, one boy and one girl. Her father cleared all the dirt from their bodies. With a fresh towel, he cleaned their tiny hands, wiggling feet, faces, their grumbling stomachs—dusting off the tiny ants and soil stuck to their eyelids. 

The Children of the Garden
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Transgressions

By SEBASTIAN ROMERO

We went to the bathhouse because it was Dorian’s thirtieth birthday and, being the kind of friend he was, he wanted to do something for himself—partying at Chicago’s Boystown, a neighborhood we’d frequented when we’d been undergraduates at Iowa—and then something for us, especially for Aviraj, who was Dorian’s closest friend and still a virgin. He had flown for this, Aviraj had; I had flown, too, but it wasn’t as big of a deal, because I had come from New York—costing me around $250—and he had from Mumbai—which could’ve cost shy of $1,000 (not that I asked). This infamous holding-out on Aviraj’s part had come, on the one hand, because of his spiritual beliefs and, on the other, because—idealistic as he was—he had never been able to keep a man, which had brought about that soothing old joke of ours where we told him not to worry; he was surely the type of guy who never dated and then, bam!, he’d marry on his first try. The group would laugh at this jealous joke, yet a jealous silence would always follow, for not only did we believe it to be true, but we also believed Aviraj to be the only one of us who had marriage in him.

Transgressions
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