The December 2013 Words Without Borders is out, featuring Oulipo.
This month we’re showcasing the sparkling innovations in form and literature produced by the members of the Oulipo. The Paris-based literary collective explores how literature might arise from structures, rules, and constraints, working within restrictions—alphabetical, narrative, rhythmic, metric—to set genres and language loose. Ian Monk’s tour of an apartment building maintains a strict numeric unity in lines and words. Olivier Salon travels through a gradually dwindling alphabet. Michèle Métail claims a chain of possessives, and Anne F. Garréta offers a rogue reading of Proust. In playing with poetic forms, Jacques Bens finds sonnets easy as pi; Jacques Jouet extends the sestina; and Michelle Grangaud records everyday events in a new take on the tercet. And François Caradec’s aphorisms offer less than meets the eye. Guest editor and translator Daniel Levin Becker provides a useful key to the considerations at play in both French and English versions. Join us in marveling at the verbal gymnastics of the writers, and at the dazzling ingenuity of the translators.
Our feature presents writing from Sudan, as Max Shmookler introduces three stories of estrangement by Nagi Al-Badawi, Adel Gassas, and Sabah Babiker Ibraheem Sanhouri. And we’re delivering the second installment of Sakumi Tayama’s “Spirit Summoning,” in which a pair of fraudulent mediums deliver unexpected results.