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Tablet & Pen

The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry

September 2010 Cover
Image: Joe Neff, In Flight, Gelatin Silver, 2007

September 2010: Urdu Fiction from India

This September we’re treated to the finest in new Urdu fiction from India. Curated by distinguished translator Muhammad Umar Memon, this stunning collection is the perfect primer on the fantastic and varied forms of contemporary Urdu writing. Naiyer Masud, master of the Urdu short story and Saraswati Samman award winner, follows the travails of a young runaway given refuge by a mysterious stranger. Celebrated fiction writer Qurratulain Hyder tracks the fortunes of a young woman who jettisons family and home on an intercontinental romp, with the past hot on her heels. Trailblazing feminist writer Ismat Chughtai gives an unsparing account of the goings-on in a maternity ward, while Anwar Khan’s protagonist discovers the comforting solitude of a shop window. Award-winning journalist Sajid Rashid sorts through a train explosion in a tale told by a severed head, and Siddiq Aalam listens in on two grumpy old men in a Kolkata park. Rounding out the issue, Sahitya Akademi Award winner Rajinder Singh Bedi gives a lesson in the art of erotic statuary, while Zakia Mashhadi recounts a troubled saga of marriage, love, and religion, and Salam Bin Razzack paints a picture of a Mumbai under siege.

Also this month, Askold Melnyczuk extols the virtues of speaking more than Amerikanisch, Avrom Sutzkever recites an ode to the dove, and Najem Wali describes a visit to the morgue.

Urdu Fiction from India: An Introduction
By Muhammad Umar Memon
“Notwithstanding President Barack Obama’s delightful disclosure that he likes Urdu poetry, few in the West know anything about this language and even less about its otherwise vibrant literature.”more>>>

Destitutes Compound
By Naiyer Masud
“For some time I thought about Childhood Love. What a strange name! Was it some woman? Some old flame of Murad Mian? What state must she be in now?” more>>>

Beyond the Fog
By Qurratulain Hyder
“People regard her as no more than a tart.  Do you really want your daughter to become a striptease dancer in some hotel?”more>>>

Of Fists and Rubs
By Ismat Chughtai
"But Ratti Bai, when you earn forty rupees, why whore around?"more>>>

The Pose
By Anwar Khan
“The moment he saw her, his hand stopped dead, his mouth fell open, and his eyes widened.  She stared at the cop sweetly.”more>>>

Fable of a Severed Head
By Sajid Rashid
“Although the picture of the unclaimed head didn’t exactly resemble his brother’s, the slightly curved nose and the scar above the upper lip were exactly like Chotto’s. more>>>

Two Old Kippers
By Siddiq Aalam
"Why don’t we toss a coin. Heads you’ll live longer, tails I will."more>>>

By Rajinder Singh Bedi
“Magan hesitated, fumbling for words, and then said, ‘Why, you could make a Gandhi, a Nehru . . .’ And as if he’d made a mistake, he quickly corrected himself, ‘A nude, for instance.’” more>>>

A Sheet
By Salam Bin Razzack
“A scrawny young man ran out of a narrow alley.  His wrists were bound behind him and his clothes were on fire.  ‘Help! Help!’ he was shouting.  ‘Water! Water!’” more>>>

The Saga of Jaanki Raman Pandey
By Zakia Mashhadi
“I used to be a simple, unpretentious Hindu.  I got mixed up with you and became a fake Muslim.  Then I didn’t even stay a true Hindu.  I have become a complete heretic, what you might call an atheist.” more>>>

Also In This Issue
From "Ode to the Dove"
By Avrom Sutzkever
Translated by Zachary Sholem
Trapped on the lips are sounds, like pearls of forts oceanatemore>>>

Bitte, Ich Spreche Nur Amerikanisch
By Askold Melnyczuk
. . . before them stands a primly dressed woman, her mouth open wide as though she were belting out an aria, an open book in her hand. The caption reads: Americans enjoying literature in translation. more>>>

Visiting the Morgue
By Najem Wali
Translated by William Maynard Hutchins 
Yusuf caught a quick look at the box’s label: “Container for Cut-off Ears and Earlobes.” more>>>

Book Reviews

Am I a Redundant Human BeingAm I a Redundant Human Being? 
by Mela Hartwig
Translated from the German by Kerri A Pierce
Dalkey Archive Press, 2010

Reviewed by Daniela Hurezanu 

It is as if the narrator takes her own self, puts it under a microscope and probes it without flinching. more>>>

A Novel Bookstore  
by Laurence Cossé
Translated from the French by Alison Anderson
Europa Editions, 2010

Reviewed by Emma Hamilton

A new bookstore opens in Paris and stirs up a culture war.  more>>>

Recent Dispatches

From the Archives: A Coastal Village, When Summer Gives It the Slip

By Susan Harris
As the Northern Hemisphere's summer crawls to a close, we recommend Yasmina Khadra's "Absence."  In an Algerian resort town at the end of the season, shy, dreamy teen Nasser waves good-bye to the departing Noria, the object of his mute yearning. Wandering the deserted streets, Nasser imagines the conversations he never had with Noria, and ends up in her bedroom in her family's now-empty villa. The tone shifts from elegiac to tragic, as summer's end turns out to be only one of many, and the multiple meanings of absence become clear.
By Geoff Wisner
Mohammed Dib was born in Algeria in 1920 and was deported for his nationalist views in 1959, during the country's long and bloody war for independence. Though he was a prolific and honored writer in France, where he died in 2003, his work has been almost unavailable in English.

In 2001, the University of Nebraska Press published The Savage Night, a collection of thirteen stories translated from the French by C. Dickson. The press called it "the first book-length English translation of Dib's work," although a novel entitled Who Remembers the Sea was published by Three Continents Press in 1985. more>>>
By Jonathan Blitzer
In his excellent new book, Hispanic New York, Columbia University’s Claudio Remeseira stays within the five boroughs and yet has achieved something decidedly, and admirably, far-flung. I think of the volume as a biography of New York, a portrait of the city – past, present, and future – as it’s been constituted by Spaniards and Latin Americans drawn to it as early as the mid to late 19th century. more>>>
By Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi and Chana M
We'd like to respond to a recent online article which raised some concerns about the initial description of our project. First of all, as the moderators we would like to thank the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) for their feedback and state that we are appalled and deeply saddened by the human rights crisis in Gaza and the West Bank, and by the daily, systematic oppression that Palestinians face in light of the occupation. We are both against normalization of any kind, and would like to take this opportunity to clarify that the aim of the blog is to understand how writers and filmmakers are responding to the violence and resisting the occupation on both sides. more>>>

More from Dispatches

September Events

Litquake NYC: Down and Dirty Round the World

September 11, 2010 8:15 pm 
Lolita Bar, 266 Broome Street, NYC

As part of LitQuake’s NYC Lit Crawl, Words without Borders presents an evening of hard-boiled, pulpy, and erotic international literature read by translators Ross Benjamin, Peter Constantine, Karen Emmerich, Susan Bernofsky, and W. Martin.

Check out the complete schedule and be sure to join us at Fontana's (218 Bowery) for the post Lit Crawl party.

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