World Literature Today

World Literature Today is a bimonthly literary journal owned and published by the University of Oklahoma. It has been published since 1927 and is headquartered in Norman, Okla.World Literature Today, which was founded by Roy Temple House under the title Books Abroad, attracts students, scholars and general readers of foreign books from around the world. The publication started with 32 pages in 1927 and grew to 256 pages by its 50th anniversary. In 1977, the name changed to World Literature Today and is now the second oldest literary journal of its kind in the United States.World Literature Today is the sponsor of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, which is an award of $25,000 given every two years by an international jury of writers, critics and literary scholars. The publication is unique in its regular reviews of books from every part of the world, including those that are only iavailable in their native languages including Lithuanian, Esperanto, Maori, Basque, and Macedonian, before they are widely recognized. In 1975, World Literature Today published a special issue on the Greek poet, Odysseus Elytis, and four years later, in 1979, he won the Nobel Prize. The Swedish Academy cited the journal's special edition as a primary source for its decision for the prize. Two other famed writers who received the journal's Neustadt award and went on to win the Nobel include Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Czeslaw Milosz, a Polish poet. Daniel Simon is the Editor-in-Chief. The Managing Editor is Michelle Johnson.

Articles from Vol. 88, No. 6, November/December

25 Book That Inspired the World 1989-2014
25 Book That Inspired the World 1989-2014The ResultsAs part of our cover feature focusing on central European literature of the past quarter-century, the editors of World Literature Today invited twenty-five writers to nominate one book that most influenced...
A Book for Every Bibliophile
HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDEIt's the holiday season once again, and whether you're shopping for Diwali, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Christmas, WLT has a new book for every reader on your list.For the BeatnikDiane di PrimaThe Poetry Deal(City Lights)For the Big Bang...
A Dossier of Contemporary German-Language Poetry
The Shredding of Stillness at NoonDurs GrünbeinAgain this scrabble in the air, barbed-wireGuitars, strung all across the land.Cicada radio, telephony of arthropodsGrinding their legs, sandpaper tongues.The din still resonates with legions'Marching orders,...
Agostino
Alberto Moravia. Agostino. Michael F. Moore, tr. New York. New York Review Books. 2014. isbn 978- 1590177235Alberto Moravia (1907-1990) is a writer who deserves to be more widely read than he is these days. The author of countless books depicting the...
A Harmadik Híd: Magánérdekû Feljegyzések Foghorn Péter Halálának üGyében
László Szilasi. A harmadik híd: Magánérdekû feljegyzések Foghorn Péter halálának ügyében. Budapest. Magvetõ. 2014. isbn 9789631431667László Szilasi's novel Szentek hárfája (see WLT, Jan. 2011, 68) was largely about the history of his hometown, Békéscsaba,...
All Souls' Day
He doesn't know why he's here. There's no one here for him to mourn. The names he reads over evoke no memory, but nonetheless he reads them, one after the other, as if it were important to find someone.His eyes tear in the cold air. One might think he's...
An Uncanny Era: Conversations between Václav Havel and Adam Michnik
Václav Havel & Adam Michnik. An Uncanny Era: Conversations between Václav Havel and Adam Michnik. Elzbieta Matynia, tr. New Haven. Yale University Press. 2014. isbn 9780300204032In 1978 eight dissidents met on a mountainside on the border between...
August
Christa Wolf. August. Katy Derbyshire, tr. London. Seagull Books (University of Chicago Press, distr.). 2014. isbn 9780857421869Dedicated to her husband on their anniversary, Christa Wolf's final story tenderly relays the uplifting power of memory in...
Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant? A Memoir
Roz Chast. Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant? A Memoir. New York. Bloomsbury. 2014. isbn 9781608198061It is difficult to imagine tackling such a complex and emotionally wrought subject as preparing for one's parents' deaths in a graphic memoir,...
Casablanca la Bella
Fernando Vallejo. Casablanca la bella. Madrid / Bogotá. Alfaguara. 2013. isbn 9788420415574 / 9789587586008Colombian author Fernando Vallejo (b. 1942, Medellín) is currently in a privileged position within the world of literature written in Spanish....
Editor's Note
[After 1989], I felt as though I had crawled out from under the debris of a mass collision of historical proportions, slightly scraped, yet a new man. - Durs Grünbein, "The Vocation of Poetry" (2009)December 23, 1988. As our night train to Prague approached...
Five Poems
BioHow unlike a dead fish a live fish is- Maxine Hong KingstonWhen I was a fishSpace had cozy wallsAnd as always was roundI dreamed of divine finsFeather headdresses and lifeUpon the waterIt was said the tailDrops offbut there is a reward:A pair of aching...
Five Poems
A Young HorseI've never figured out what world I live in.I rode on a horse as young and as happy as I.When he galloped I could feel his heartbeatAgainst my thighsAnd my heart pounded, unquenchable, with the speed.Everything flashing by, I didn't even...
Flores Amarillas
Raúl Tola. Flores amarillas. Lima. Alfaguara. 2013. isbn 9786123090999Raúl Tola is one of Peru's most respected print and television journalists; in addition, he is an accomplished fiction writer, as his third novel, Flores amarillas, well proves. The...
George Arion and the Quest for a Romanian Crime Writing
The Romanian language is an island of Romance in a Slavic ocean, adjacent to another linguistic island, Hungary. Once roughly the Roman province of Dacia, the area retained the Latin the Romans brought with their conquest in the second century ad. Successive...
Herstories: An Anthology of New Ukrainian Women Prose Writers
Herstories: An Anthology of New Ukrainian Women Prose Writers. Michael M. Naydan, ed. London. Glagoslav. 2014. isbn 9781909156012The common thread that unites the diverse works of fiction presented in Herstories is that they were all written by Ukrainian...
Incarnadine
Mary Szybist. Incarnadine. Minneapolis, Minnesota. Graywolf Press. 2013. isbn 9781555976354What happens when the nonhuman confronts the human? Mary Szybist explores the possibilities by making the Annunciation scene between Mary and the angel Gabriel...
Izabrane Pesme
Vasa Mihailovic. Izabrane Pesme. Belgrade. Tanesi. 2013. isbn 9788681567708With 131 mostly prose poems in six named sections, we get a clear picture of the Serbian American poet Vasa Mihailovic (now eighty-eight years of age), who emigrated to the United...
K
Bernardo Kucinski. K. Sue Branford, tr. London. Latin American Bureau. 2013. isbn 9781899365777In Bernardo Kucinski's novel K, an elderly man searches for his adult daughter, a political militant who vanishes at the height of the military dictatorship...
La Route Des Clameurs
Ousmane Diarra. La route des clameurs. Paris. Gallimard. 2014. isbn 9782070146284In his third novel, Ousmane Diarra (who works as a librarian in Bamako) describes the disasters caused by the Islamic fundamentalists who have attempted to take over Mali....
Last Word
Jonathan Blum. Last Word. Iowa City. Rescue Press (SPD, distr.). 2013. isbn 9780988587335One aspiration of many writers is to maintain a comical thread throughout a serious work. Jonathan Blum is just such a writer. In his debut book, the 2013 novella...
Le Fils De Judith
Marie Cosnay. Le Fils de Judith. Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, France. Cheyne. 2014. isbn 9782841161973Marie Cosnay's latest novel, like many of her other books, involves a quest for origins, as a young woman named Helen searches for her father. More broadly,...
Literature and the Hippocratic Oath: A Conversation with Tomas Venclova
Born in 1937, Lithuanian poet Tomas Venclova experienced firsthand the annexation and occupation of Lithuania by the USSR during and after the Second World War. From 1956 on, Venclova took part in the Lithuanian and Russian literary and dissident movements,...
Littenser Merke
Ale S. van Zandbergen. Littenser Merke. Ljouwert, Netherlands. Friese Pers. 2013. isbn 978- 9033004223The reader of this debut novel will be surprised to get two stories for the price of one. Author Ale S. Van Zandbergen is indeed offto an ambitious...
Mapping Life through Poetry: A Conversation with Bruno Montané Krebs
A Conversation with Bruno Montané KrebsThe poetry of Bruno Montané Krebs (b. 1957, Valparaíso, Chile) is as tactile as it is visual. With materiality as its touchstone, Montané Krebs's work tackles the problems posed by relating life and language with...
Measure Twice, Cut Once
Sam found him in the workshop, arranging the new tools on the shadow board-he'd put all the screws in and was now carefully drawing each shape in thick black marker. It felt satisfying lining them all up like this-vices, handsaw, clamps, even glue gun-but...
Men We Reaped: A Memoir
Jesmyn Ward. Men We Reaped: A Memoir. New York. Bloomsbury. 2013. isbn 9781608195213In Men We Reaped, Jesmyn Ward crafts a beautiful narrative about loss, grief, and remembrance. Ward's second novel, Salvage the Bones, earned her the 2011 National Book...
Mortality's Muse: The Fine Art of Dying
D. T. Siebert. Mortality's Muse: The Fine Art of Dying. Newark / Lanham, Maryland. University of Delaware Press / Rowman & Littlefield. 2013. isbn 9781611494549Mortality's Muse is a rare book: thoroughly researched, genially delivered. The best-or...
Nan Dòmi: An Initiate's Journey into Haitian Vodou
Miscellaneous Mimerose P. Beaubrun. Nan Dòmi: An Initiate's Journey into Haitian Vodou. D. J. Walker, tr. San Francisco. City Lights. 2013. isbn 9780872865747Nan Dòmi is Mimerose Beaubrun's fascinating, first-person narration recounting her study of,...
Nota Bene
Nota BeneKjell AskildsenSelected StoriesSeán Kinsella, tr.Dalkey Archive PressKjell Askildsen's short-story collection is propelled by his masterful characterization. Each story is populated by people who experience typical work and home life. Their...
Polishing October: New and Selected Poems
Verse George Gömöri. Polishing October: New and Selected Poems. Clive Wilmer & George Gömöri, tr. Beeston, Nottingham. Shoestring Press. 2013. isbn 9781907356834Upon hearing that George Gömöri has lived in England since 1956, someone remarked that...
Prague: The Czech Republic's "Dear Little Mother"
City ProfileCities are like oceans: their ebbs and flows offer glimpses of their depths, providing contrasts between what we know and what they've yet to reveal. Similarly, Prague's staccato bursts of modernism are juxtaposed against its wonderfully...
Regarde Les Lumières Mon Amour
Annie Ernaux. Regarde les lumières mon amour. Paris. Seuil. 2014. isbn 9782370210371Regarde les lumières mon amour is a wonderful addition to Annie Ernaux's life writings. Her observations of social life in a Parisian suburb reveal her incredible giftin...
Santa Fe's Biblioteca Amigos Library
Five minutes away from Santa Fe's historic downtown, a wooden cart goes in and out of the Youth Development Center. It has been loaded and unloaded, dragged and pushed, narrowly avoiding throwing offthe precious words stacked on top of it. The rickety...
Sofi Oksanen's Purge: Trafficking the Suffering of Others?
You have to imagine the scene. It was the fall of 2010 at the Berlin International Literature Festival. SofiOksanen's 2008 novel Puhdistus (Eng. Purge, 2010) had recently been translated into thirty-something languages, and Oksanen was now enjoying her...
Strange Life
Eleanor Lerman. Strange Life. Woodstock, New York. Mayapple Press. 2014. isbn 9781936419357Eleanor Lerman, a visionary American poet from New York, whispers her view of contemporary society instead of shouting or employing complex poetic devices. Her...
"Strangely Seeming to Count Us . . ."
strangely seeming to count usthe leaves fallthe houses are shapedlike a brash thoughtin no one no one remainssometimes the poor hear the void in thingsthe hands of the blind no longer mattertheir agility of purebars caressing a wordwhich thinks uswith...
Sworn Virgin
Elvira Dones. Sworn Virgin. Clarissa Botsford, tr. London / New York. And Other Stories. 2014. isbn 9781908276346Sworn Virgin, winner of the English PEN Award, highlights the consequences of a little-known cultural practice through the geographical,...
The Astronomer
On that day, the astronomer caught a glimpse of three stars through his telescope. He watched them for a long while. They were tiny, like grain, and he stared at the vision of a frozen corpse.There were three Sea Gypsies, who traveled by ship to the...
The Contemporary Spanish-American Novel: Bolaño and After
The Contemporary Spanish-American Novel: Bolaño and After. Will H. Corral, Juan E. De Castro, and Nicholas Birns, eds. New York. Bloomsbury. 2013. isbn 978-1441142597This unique collection of essays by fifty scholars and writers on the work of sixty-nine...
The Day of Shelly's Death: The Poetry and Ethnography of Grief
Renato Rosaldo. The Day of Shelly's Death: The Poetry and Ethnography of Grief. Durham, North Carolina. Duke University Press. 2014. isbn 978-0822356493 / 56615When we lose a great love, our first impulse is to find a way through the grief-and the rage...
The Poetry Deal
Diane di PrimaStill writing "on this earthquake fault" in San Francisco, feminist Beat poet Diane di Prima continues to create her revolutionary verse. At eighty, aged out of the thirty-underthirty and forty-under-forty lists and writing from Silicon...
The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
Fiction Gabrielle Zevin. The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry. Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Algonquin. 2014. isbn 9781616203214Recently widowed A. J. Fikry seems the last person on Alice Island to whom one would entrust a toddler named Maya. But he owns a...
The Sun King
Conor O'Callaghan. The Sun King. Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Wake Forest University Press. 2013. isbn 9781930630673Conor O'Callaghan's The Sun King is a rich volume that immediately stuns the reader with its seamless interweaving of a contemporary...
The Trip to Echo Spring: On Writers and Drinking
Olivia Laing. The Trip to Echo Spring: On Writers and Drinking. New York. Picador. 2014. isbn 9781250039569Alcoholics offer various reasons for their addiction. Fitzgerald believed, or rationalized, that liquor heightens the emotions, enabling him to...
Thirty Girls
Susan Minot. Thirty Girls. New York. Knopf. 2014. isbn 9780307266385The temptation to use the term "ripped from the headlines" is strong, but this remarkably moving novel about the kidnapping of thirty African girls predates recent events and yet presages...
Touched by Mourning
Aller Tage Abend (2012), the best-selling novel by acclaimed German writer Jenny Erpenbeck, centers on a female protagonist of Eastern European Jewish heritage. This is a story of forking paths that retraces its own steps several times to explore different...
Two Poems
Days were never this long before.Their whiteness a lactose too difficult to dissolve. He dozeswherever he can. Gets upset only when lunch is not ready on time.Speaks a little less each day and moves from one sentence to the otherwithout arguments as...
Two Poems
Eating NoodlesEven though it is cold outside,the windows of the noodle shopare covered with humid warmthas the columns of fragrant steamarise from bowls of broth.The crowd, of course, is busy -children, adults, the very elderlyeating, conversing in non-English...
Two Poems
ApartSomewhere in Africamy mother tendsher late mother's jacarandas.Somewhere past a frozen rivermy father drinks his cold teain the winter chill of a quiet dawn.One day you will knowwhat it is to be truly apartyet painfully bound.Today we flew kite-maker...
Ukraine
What to Read NowUkraineA Ukrainian writer looks outside the country for three books that help illuminate what threatens modern Ukraine.Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North KoreaBarbara DemickThis book by American journalist Barbara Demick, who has...
Wilfred Owen
Guy Cuthbertson. Wilfred Owen. New Haven, Connecticut. Yale University Press. 2014. isbn 9780300153002As a young man of twenty-one, Wilfred Owen remained the boy who posed in a family snapshot as a proud soldier with gun in one hand, sword on his belt,...
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