New Words Without Borders – December 2011 – The Fantastic

The December Words Without Borders is out now. This month’s theme is the fantastic. I have grown more interested in the fantastic recently, especially with my readings of Cristina Fernandez Cubas and Samanta Schweblin. From the Spanish there is one by Miguel de Unamuno, but of course Words Without Borders is full of interesting workings from around the world.

This month we’re traveling in the land of the fantastic. Routine situations turn surreal and the otherworldly becomes the norm, as inanimate objects come to life, the dead coexist with the living, and the laws of physics are defied and overturned. In a more realistic vein, we present work by three Iranian writers.

We’re also launching a new feature this month, The World through the Eyes of Writers, where we’ll publish writing by new and emerging international writers recommended by established authors. In our first installment, the celebrated Chinese writer Can Xue introduces Zheng Xialou’s eerie “Festival of Ghosts.”
The Navidad Incident 

By Natsuki Izekawa

Translated from the Japanese by Alfred Birnbaum 

Right at the peak of the afternoon heat, a bus strolled into the local general store. more>>>

Orkish Cornbread 

By Ranko Trifkovi ć 

Translated from the Serbian by Ranko Trifković

But remember, the cornstalks are so gigantic you’ll need the help of seasoned Goblin lumberjacks. more>>>

The Red Loaf 

By André Pieyre de Mandiargues 

Translated from French by Edward Gauvin

I began the laborious ascent of the loaf. more>>>

The Map 

By Nazli Eray

Translated from the Turkish by Robert P. Finn

It’s a General Map of Man with a special interpretation. more>>>


By Naiyer Masud

Translated from the Urdu by Muhammad Umar Memon

During the red and yellow storms I even went out and watched the landscape changing color. more>>>

The Man Who Buried Himself 

By Miguel de Unamuno

Translated from the Spanish by Emily Calderwood Davis

There are no words to express it in the language of men who die only once. more>>>

At Livia’s Bar 

By Pierre Mejlak 

Translated from the Maltese by Antoine Cassar

Whenever she’d finish a city or an island, she would lift it in the air. more>>>

The Ghosts are Schrödinger Cats 

By Maja Novak

Translated from the Slovene by Nina Dolgan and Kristina Zdravič Reardon

It wasn’t an accident that her head was not attached to her body. more>>>

Writing from Iran


By Elham Eshraghi 

Translated from the Persian by Elham Eshraghi

Before he could reach for his abacus to add up the total, Tooba Khanum opened the folds of her chador to produce a rooster. more>>>

The Mirror 

By Soheila Beski

Translated from the Persian by Assurbanipal Babilla

When the Bolsheviks took over, Tsar Nicholas summoned my father. more>>>

An Iranian Metamorphosis 

By Mana Neyestani 

Translated from the Persian by Ghazal Mosadeq

“Write why you drew that cartoon and why you chose a Turkish word.” more>>>