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. 91, No. 3/4, May-August

4 3 2 1
Paul Auster. 4 3 2 1. New York. Henry Holt. 2017. 866 pages.Is it an indulgence to resist the arbitrariness of having only one life to live? Rather than lodge one's alternative paths in a variety of characters in different plots or give one character...
A Listening Wind: Native Literature from the Southeast
A Listening Wind: Native Literature from the Southeast. Ed. Marcia Haag. Lincoln. University of Nebraska Press. 2016. 327 pages.In the introduction to this collection, editor Marcia Haag displays intimate awareness while skillfully articulating the complexities...
American Writers Museum Launches in Chicago
The new American Writers Museum, opening this May in Chicago, celebrates American literature in a lively, interactive space that honors America's writers past and present.Located on the second floor of a grand old building on Michigan Avenue's "Cultural...
A Thousand Horses out to Sea
Erika T. Wurth. A Thousand Horses out to Sea. Norman, Oklahoma. Mongrel Empire Press. 2016. 80 pages.Each of us has a familiar universe that we hide from everyone else. Erika T. Wurth's collection A Thousand Horses out to Sea is an invitation into a...
At Standing Rock
He walked to the frontline in his Army combat shirt.On it, his sergeant badge, name tape, US Army tape, and flag.They were praying togetherBehind him stood hundreds of water protectors.He walked up alone. Police took their positions. Armed and defensive.P...
Blaris Moor
Medbh McGuckian. Blaris Moor. Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Wake Forest University Press. 2016 (©2015). 112 pages.Anyone raised in or near an indigenous culture will understand the ways in which language permeates the local sense of identity. The Irish,...
Bodies of Summer
Martin Felipe Castagnet. Bodies of Summer. Trans. Frances Riddle. Victoria, Texas. Dalkey Archive Press. 2017. 105 pages.The central concept of Bodies of Summer is a good one: what if, after death, your consciousness uploaded to the Internet, where you...
Breathing into Marble
Featured Review Laura Sintija Cerniauskaite. Breathing into Marble. Trans. Marija Marcinkute. Nottingham, United Kingdom. Noir Press. 2016. 183 pages.Epilepsy and psychosis, depression and lust, aging, poverty, betrayal, violence, and the mystery of...
Bricks and Mortar
Clemens Meyer. Bricks and Mortar. Trans. Katy Derbyshire. London. Fitzcarraldo Editions. 2016 (©2013). 672 pages.The phrase "bricks and mortar" refers to the real estate in an east German city, Meyer's Leipzig, which is likewise the setting for his earlier...
Bury My Heart at Chuck E. Cheese's
The day of my mother's funeral service I separated myself from the rest of the grieving throng and hid out in the musician's belfry like tortured Quasimodo, my grief too hideous to expose.I peered down upon the mourners below, watched my aunts struggling...
Camanchaca
Diego Zúñiga. Camanchaca. Trans. Megan McDowell. Minneapolis. Coffee House Press. 2017. 110 pages.Camanchaca is a thick fog often seen along certain parts of the Chilean coast. Pushed along by the winds coming offthe Pacific Ocean, it often appears at...
Captivity
I.A mark across the body. The morning I watched my beloved uncle disappear down the alley. His car leftsitting in our yard for thirty days. This tattoo we cover with shame. The stories my mother whispered as if gitchi-manidoo was a child who should not...
Chanson Douce
Leïla Slimani. Chanson douce. Paris. Gallimard. 2016. 226 pages.The novel that won the prestigious Goncourt Prize in 2016 begins on a grim note: "The baby is dead." Most of the ensuing narrative is recounted in the form of an extended flashback, with...
Chiapas Maya Awakening: Contemporary Poems and Short Stories
Chiapas Maya Awakening: Contemporary Poems and Short Stories. Ed. Sean S. Sell & Nicolás Huet Bautista. Trans. Sean S. Sell. Norman. University of Oklahoma Press. 2017. 185 pages.In 1904 Frédéric Mistral was awarded the Nobel Prize for his efforts...
Continuing the Gift
In Spring 1992 World Literature Today published a special issue entitled "From this World: Contemporary American Indian Literature." The issue released just before Returning the Gift, a historic Native writers' conference held on the University of Oklahoma's...
Coyote Hunters
I'm driving with my husband through eastern Oregon on our way to the nuclear test site in Nevada. The Crooked River Canyon is semi-arid: it gets about nine inches of rain a year. Farmers irrigate a band on either side of the river for cattle. It's fall,...
De Lêste Floed
Durk van der Ploeg. De lêste floed. Ljouwert, Netherlands. Het Nieuwe Kanaal. 2016. 274 pages.In his eighties now, Durk van der Ploeg shows little evidence that he's losing his literary touch. His latest, De lêste floed (The last flood), brings the reader...
Dissolving Classroom
Junji Ito. Dissolving Classroom. Trans. Melissa Tanaka. New York. Vertical Comics. 2017. 174 pages.Dissolving Classroom is the sixth volume to translate Japanese mangaka Junji Ito's probing visions of the horrifying and the weird into English. Despite...
Dreaming the World in Translation: A Conversation with Hélène Cardona
As the world becomes increasingly and undeniably global, translation is more relevant than ever in reaching across borders to find both difference and common ground through art. Poet and translator Hélène Cardona spoke about her new bilingual poetry...
Dunkelmacht
Harald Lüders. Dunkelmacht. Frankfurt am Main. Westend Verlag. 2016. 349 pages.To be taken seriously, a political thriller must persuade its readers that the exciting fiction has been constructed around knowing- perhaps dangerously acute-insights into...
Dynamic Dialogue: Translating with Gili Haimovich
The creative collaboration between myself and Israeli poet Gili Haimo-vich began around 2009. The first poem of hers to be published in English translation was "Evolution," with the opening lines: "I am continually renewed / like evolution." Gili's first...
Ebi Yeibo's Poetic Unfolding of Nigeria's Postcolonial History
Contemporary African literature continues to reverberate with the burden of sustaining the idea of nationhood and the inability of government to nurture the seeds of independence to root. The gloom and disillusionment that settled on the continent shortly...
Editor's Note
In the spring 1992 issue of World Literature Today, published to mark the quincentenary of Cristoforo Colombo's encounter with the New World, Robert Berner writes: "The fact of the matter is that American Indian literature and the American culture of...
Exit West
Mohsin Hamid. Exit West. New York. Riverhead Books. 2017. 231 pages.Mohsin Hamid's latest novel explores the tender and tenuous relationship between Nadia and Saeed, young adults coming of age during a time of strife in their unnamed home country. Their...
Frontier
Can Xue. Frontier. Trans. Karen Gernant & Chen Zeping. Rochester, New York. Open Letter. 2017. 470 pages.Frontier, first published in China in 2008, is Can Xue's follow-up to her novel The Last Lover, winner of the 2015 Best Translated Book Award....
Ghazal Cosmopolitan
Poetry is of course a universal art, but is it possible for a particular poetic form to be not only universally (or largely) adaptable but also act as a vessel for the mercurial shifts that define the cosmopolitan? As I delve into the history of the...
GIAZPA GKPOZNI (Jazra Grozny)
Jazra Khaleed. G????? G?????? (Jazra Grozny). Athens. Ypokeimeno Press. 2016. 62 pages.Jazra Grozny is the long-awaited first poetry collection in Greek of the controversial and charismatic Greek-Chechen poet Jazra Khaleed. For the last decade he has...
Grandma's Zydeco Stomp Dance: A Patchwork Poem *
IMix cultures of homeWest Africa West Indiesdisrupted along slave tradeFrench and Spanish traveling tributaries.Mississippi red,blood arterieshave long varied stories:colonization and conquest.Choctaw, Creek, Cherokee, Natchez, Caddo, andMétis, Cree,...
How I Became a Tree
Sumana Roy. How I Became a Tree. New Delhi. Aleph. 2017. 244 pages.As with acts of observing the complex structures of trees, it takes a few rounds of intense readerly attention to detect the subtle patterns in Sumana Roy's exquisite work of nonfiction,...
Jean Cocteau: A Life
Claude Arnaud. Jean Cocteau: A Life. Trans. Lauren Elkin & Charlotte Mandell. New Haven, Connecticut. Yale University Press. 2016. 1,014 pages.Jean Cocteau was bewitched, bothered, and bewildered in his lifetime: bewitched by exceedingly young males...
Król
Szczepan Twardoch. Król. Kraków. Wydawnictwo Literackie. 2016. 428 pages.The year is 1937. For nearly twenty years, Poland has been independent after a century and a half of foreign occupation. As Hitler casts an ever-longer shadow eastward, Polish democracy...
Labrador
We lefthome to think it over. Nanna had an abortion three years ago, so this time we wanted to be sure we were making the right decision. When I was younger, I had this idea that the right choice in life would always reveal itself-that you would know,...
Like Any Good Indian Woman
i pull my brothers from words, stupid injun, shot like bullets. when people ask why my brothers hated school i say: the spirit remembers what it's like to be leftbehind when america took children from homes, displaced families with rupture, ripping a...
Love at Last Sight
Vedrana Rudan. Love at Last Sight. Trans. Ellen Elias-Bursac. Victoria, Texas. Dalkey Archive Press. 2017. 204 pages.Vedrana Rudan's new provocatrice, Tilda (unnamed until the penultimate chapter), recalls the protagonist of her first novel, Night, both...
Martutene
Ramon Saizarbitoria. Martutene. Trans. Aritz Branton. Madrid. Hispabooks. 2016. 810 pages.Invoking a mystique of the real in the tradition of Another Country, L'Éducation sentimentale, and Ulysses, Ramon Saizarbitoria has written a contemporary novel...
Mestizos Come Home! Making and Claiming Mexican American Identity
Miscellaneous Robert Con Davis-Undiano. Mestizos Come Home! Making and Claiming Mexican American Identity. Norman. University of Oklahoma Press. 2017. 336 pages.Mestizos Come Home! is a comprehensive and valuable study of Mexican American history and...
Monahsetah, Resistance and Other Markings on Turtle's Back: Lyric History, Poems and Essays
Maurice Kenny. Monahsetah, Resistance and Other Markings on Turtle's Back: Lyric History, Poems and Essays. Norman, Oklahoma. Mongrel Empire Press. 2017. 180 pages.Maurice Kenny's final collection, a lyric jaunt through history and memoir, serves as...
Moving the Palace
Charif Majdalani. Moving the Palace. Trans. Edward Gauvin. New York. New Vessel Press. 2017. 200 pages.Moving the Palace won both the François Mauriac Prize from the Académie Française and the Prix Tropiques, so one opens its pages with high expectations....
Native in the Twenty-First Century
I'm mixed but that doesn't mean I'm mixed up-it just means my parents fell in love across a racial and cultural divide that split my blood. When I was young I looked like my dad, my brown hair tipped red in summer-anyone could think I was white, only...
Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan
Ruth Gilligan. Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan. Portland, Oregon. Tin House Books. 2017. 336 pages.Taking on James Joyce is no small feat, but Ruth Gilligan pulls it offmasterfully in her own distinctive voice while sprinkling in Samuel Beckett, Seamus...
Nota Bene
Nota BeneGabriel Arnou-LaujeacBeyond ElsewhereTrans. Hélène CardonaWhite Pine PressBeyond Elsewhere is a breathless testament to the transcendent power of love, ranging as it emerges from the poet's pen, from the attraction between individuals to the...
Of Darkness
Fiction Josefine Klougart. Of Darkness. Trans. Martin Aitken. Dallas, Texas. Deep Vellum. 2017. 312 pages.It is difficult to find the right genre to capture Klougart's sixth publication, Of Darkness (WLT, Jan. 2017, 53-55). Perhaps people have settled...
Papatea
No.Nothing.Nothing on a really tall chair; a chair with very long legs; up to the sky, which was empty.And down fell fragrance; fragrance of flowers, although there were no flowers; before there were flowers there was just this fragrance, which fell,...
Quaking Cantos: Nepal Earthquake Poems
Yuyutsu Sharma. Quaking Cantos: Nepal Earthquake Poems. New Delhi. Nirala. 2016. 81 pages.On what seemed like an ordinary day in 2015, a series of rumbles jostled the Nepali region, killing thousands and thrusting countless more into homelessness. An...
Refugio Beach
Brother piles sand on his pregnant girlfriend's belly.On her sandy stomach I draw a belly button. Soon it will be duskand the last surfers in the distance will disappearfrom this winter beach. We find ourselves here in a cove beneaththe sway of palm...
Ricky
Cordell stopped by the gallery to drop offmore of their clothes and gather his baseball gear. He parked in back after seeing a shiny black Jaguar in the front driveway and went in the kitchen door. Dina's mom, Peggy, had tossed him the keys to her car,...
Savage Theories
Palo Oloixarac. Savage Theories. Trans. Roy Kesey. New York. Soho Press. 2017. 291 pages.In Savage Theories, Palo Oloixarac addresses the conflict of being both an individual with ideas and a social animal with libido. Theory and sexuality are woven...
Six Poems
Qasida of the Bridge of TeacupsThe soul cleaves into two somewhere along the birth canal,didn't you say, Plato? I send your echo back to Athensfrom my rug of locked antlers in Peshawarwhere I fill a teacup with the question of half my soul(as I watercolor...
Skins, Forms, Flows, Tones
What holds water in a droptension that holds humans inbetweentheir sweet skinswater holds usher arms baystide of bloodbeat so closeJust our skinsbetweenhome and oceaninland seariver just between usjust a beatbetweenwho you arewho I amwho we areWe call...
Someone Always in the Corner of My Eye
BoSeon Shim. Someone Always in the Corner of My Eye. Trans. YoungShil Ji & Daniel T. Parker. Buffalo, New York. White Pine Press. 2016. 94 pages.American readers owe their gratitude to White Pine Press and to translators YoungShil Ji and Daniel T....
Standing on Earth
Verse Mohsen Emadi. Standing on Earth. Trans. Lyn Coffin. Los Angeles. Phoneme Media. 2016. 89 pages.Mohsen Emadi writes a poetry of borders and crossings (WLT, March 2015, 42-44). His poems lay bare a world dissected by boundaries both real and imagined...
Stratford, Ontario
For half the year, the hamlet of Stratford, Ontario-named after the birthplace of William Shakespeare-is much like any other small North American town. But in April, the town's atmosphere changes overnight. Lifeless buildings are suddenly transformed...
Streaming
The innovator isn't important. It's whoever has the watershed moment.- Travis Hedge CokeWe haven't slept since September. Some of us, since we remember. Not the real sleep, the deep-down cloud dreams. We do dream encoded loaded maze of meaning, circling...
Summer Reads
With a wealth of fiction, nonfiction, and verse stacking up in his office, Book Review Editor Rob Vollmar has narrowed his reading ambitions for the summer down to these three worthy titles.Ghareeb Iskander Gilgamesh's Snake and Other Poems Trans. John...
Summer Reads
SUMMER READSThis summer Web Editor Jen Rickard Blair is planning to read a balance of books that refuel calm and creativity as well as examine human nature and our shared history. She hopes to read these under the shade of big trees, in the company of...
Summer Reads
SUMMER READSEditor in Chief Daniel Simon picks three books that promise to unsettle, console, and inspire.Anne CarsonFloatRandom HouseI found myself tantalized by this excerpt from the latest book by the Canadian poet, classicist, and translator: "Eve...
Summer Reads
SUMMER READSAs much as Managing Editor Michelle Johnson loves traveling, she also loves returning home. Her summer reading list reflects a similar course this year.Elif BatumanThe IdiotPenguinEven a fragment of the Boston Globe's review of Elif Batuman's...
Summer Reads
SUMMER READSThere are three recent books from the University of Oklahoma Press that I know would make great summer reading. My own Mestizos Come Home! Making and Claiming Mexican American Identity deals with current social and cultural issues essential...
The Abominable Mr. Seabrook
Joe Ollmann. The Abominable Mr. Seabrook. Montreal. Drawn & Quarterly. 2017. 296 pages.The outline of William Seabrook's life casts him as a juicy subject for a biography. A published writer, sexually kinky player, adventurous traveler, one-time...
The Audacity of Peace
Rahim AlHajLetters from Iraq: Oud and String QuintetSmithsonian FolkwaysIraqi-born composer Rahim AlHaj's latest album, Letters from Iraq, is his most ambitious to date. AlHaj pairs masterful oud playing with a string quintet on eight original compositions...
The Borrowed
Chan Ho-Kei. The Borrowed. Trans. Jeremy Tiang. New York. Black Cat. 2017 (©2016). 490 pages.This is a remarkable book, truly brilliant, whose 490 pages is initially intimidating, but reading it is as pleasurable as binge-watching a miniseries or reading...
The Forked Juniper: Critical Perspectives on Rudolfo Anaya
The Forked Juniper: Critical Perspectives on Rudolfo Anaya. Ed. Roberto Cantú. Norman. University of Oklahoma Press. 2016. 317 pages.Finally, a gathering of essays on Rudolfo Anaya's now vast archive of writing that considerably widens the circuitry...
The Hunchbacks' Bus
Nora Iuga. The Hunchbacks' Bus. Trans. Adam J. Sorkin & Diana Manole. Fayetteville, New York. Bitter Oleander Press. 2016. 117 pages.The Hunchbacks' Bus marks the first published collection of Nora Iuga's poetry in English, a reminder that too many...
The Last Pow-Wow
That Native Thomas and Steven Paul Judd. The Last Pow-Wow. Anadarko, Oklahoma. Hosstyle. 2016. 387 pages.In The Last Pow-Wow, by That Native Thomas and Steven Paul Judd, a Native American baby is born with powwow regalia growing out of his skin. Feathery...
The Late Arrival of the Native American Detective
The indignities and brutalities suffered by ethnic and racial groups at the hands of others are legion on the unhappiest pages of human history. Not the least of these insults is, of course, stereotyping or exaggerating ethnic traits with the intended...
The Ninety-Ninth Floor
Jana Fawaz Elhassan. The Ninety- Ninth Floor. Trans. Michelle Hartman. Northampton, Massachusetts. Interlink Books. 2017. 288 pages.In Jana Fawaz Elhassan's first translated novel, she explores the entwinement of passion and affection with despair and...
The Shell
Mustafa Khalifa. The Shell. Trans. Paul Starkey. Northampton, Massachusetts. Interlink Books. 2017. 252 pages.Mustafa Khalifa's debut effort, The Shell, is difficult to stomach. It is also undoubtedly necessary. A fictional account that emerges from...
The Teeth of the Comb and Other Stories
Osama Alomar. The Teeth of the Comb and Other Stories. Trans. Osama Alomar & C. J. Collins. New York. New Directions. 2017. 96 pages.At his very finest, Osama Alomar is heir to Kahlil Gibran, whom he greatly admires, by way of the surrealists. Despite...
The Turtle's Beating Heart
Denise Low. The Turtle's Beating Heart. Lincoln. University of Nebraska Press. 2017. 177 pages.Peek into the kaleidoscope spin of one family's sense of identity. Denise Low's The Turtle's Beating Heart invites you to watch as she looks into the complexities...
The Year of the Comet
Sergei Lebedev. The Year of the Comet. Trans. Antonina W. Bouis. New York. New Vessel Press. 2017. 245 pages.In his second novel, Sergei Lebedev explores the thrills and failures of the late Soviet Union through the eyes of a young boy. Both a coming-of-age...
This Poem Is You: 60 Contemporary American Poems and How to Read Them
This Poem Is You: 60 Contemporary American Poems and How to Read Them. Ed. Stephen Burt. Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. 2016. 419 pages.Anthologies bearing the distinct taste of the anthologists are preferable,...
Tunisian Yankee
Cécile Oumhani. Tunisian Yankee. Tunis. Elyzad. 2016. 283 pages.Daoud Kaci / Dawood Casey is a person displaced by his thirst for independence and the rigors of French colonial rule. From Tunis to Palermo, New York, and the 1918 battlefields of France,...
Tuolumne
"Tuolumne River. My father took me there when I was a baby to show me 'the Indian river,' and again when I was released from prison. We went to see the salmon." - Al Miranda Sr. (November 19, 1927 - June 28, 2009)My father walked out of San Quentin after...
Two Poems
Go TheeAnd the way you gathered up your excess soulbefore it spilled to the floor.At the end of the Hebrew-Yiddish-English poetry readingand you went to eat shawarma.The way you gathered up your soul,but didn't hold it too tight,because too much of something...
Vital Kinships: A Conversation with Eric Gansworth & Arigon Starr
A central yet surprisingly undernoted facet of Native arts production is its interrelationality. Whether innovating across genres or moving across expressive forms, many Native artists refuse to settle. In doing so, they make visible vital kinships between...
Witness: Inside Jehovah's Witnesses Inside Catholic Poland Inside a Gay Life
Robert Rient. Witness: Inside Jehovah's Witnesses inside Catholic Poland inside a Gay Life. Trans. Frank Garrett. San Francisco. Outpost19. 2016. 156 pages.To many, the Jehovah's Witnesses are known for knocking on doors and leaving the religious tract...
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