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. 90, No. 6, November/December

Absolute Solitude
Dulce María Loynaz. Absolute Solitude. Trans. James O'Connor. Brooklyn. Archipelago Books. 2016. 263 pages.Raised in a progressive, prosperous Cuban family, Dulce María Loynaz (1902-97) gained a reputation for innovative writing. But after refusing to...
Against the Current
Featured Review Tedi López Mills. Against the Current. Trans. Wendy Burk. Los Angeles. Phoneme Media. 2016. 80 pages.In a Drunken Boat interview by Rebecca Seiferle, Mexican poet and translator Tedi López Mills states, "I don't know if it pertains to...
A Greater Music
Bae Suah. A Greater Music. Trans. Deborah Smith. Rochester, New York. Open Letter. 2016. 128 pages.A Greater Music is another addition to a growing body of literature that explores the idea that human sexuality is more pliable and fluid than the rigid...
"Always and Everywhere a Book Is Waiting for Me": A Conversation with Lidija Dimkovska
It's 1984 and two twelve-year-old sisters are playing a sidewalk game in communist Yugoslavia, only these sisters are unique: they are conjoined twins, joined at their heads. And so begins Lidija Dimkovska's epic novel of two impoverished sisters and...
A Q&A with Wang Anyi
Q: Would you like to be called a "woman writer" or just a "writer"?A: When I was young, I didn't like the title "woman writer"; but now I've accepted it, because that is what I am.Q: Which is your favorite period of Shanghai?A: I grew up and live in...
A Spare Life
Lidija Dimkovska. A Spare Life. Trans. Christina E. Kramer. San Francisco. Two Lines Press. 2016. 532 pages.Zlata, a Siamese twin conjoined at the head to her sister, Srebra, is the unlikely protagonist of Macedonian writer Lidija Dimkovska's remarkable...
Behind the Scenes
"I wish to request that a small allowance be made for the financing of. . . a journal of information as to current foreign books. . . . A good many of us, I think, are coming to feel strongly that the University of Oklahoma must begin fostering contributions...
Bye Bye Blondie
Virginie Despentes. Bye Bye Blondie. Trans. Siân Reynolds. New York. The Feminist Press. 2016. 248 pages.An aging punk named Gloria comes face to face with her own past in Virginie Despentes's latest novel, Bye Bye Blondie, but her destructive romance...
Crossed Paths
For almost the entire decade of the 1990s, I was deeply depressed. My mother was ill and was in and out of the hospital every year. Her room was on an upper floor of a newly built hospital, and it would be safe to say this was the tallest point in the...
Danube 1954
The Trinity test thunders across the sky, the anthropocene is about to begin. There is something new under the sun.The humans drag a net ashore: there's some runny, viscous flesh in it, not fish. Its eyes are open but it doesn't look. The others gather...
Dreamwriter (Autobiography)
Hello, it's morning, I'm sitting at the kitchen table and have just read two versions of "Draumkvedet" (The dream ballad), except I keep getting distracted by the feeling of looking up through a torrfiskstativ, a fish-drying rack, set on a mountain....
Editor's Note
Pay inequality. Sexual assault on college campuses. International acts of misogynistic violence. Sexism at the orchestra conductor's podium. These and other headlines persist as World Literature Today brings this issue to press. In a recent New York...
Eva Sleeps
Francesca Melandri. Eva Sleeps. Trans. Katherine Gregor. New York. Europa Editions. 2016. 370 pages.Given that Francesca Melandri's novel Eva Sleeps has received such critical acclaim in Italy, it is no surprise that a narrative with such far-reaching...
Eve out of Her Ruins
Ananda Devi. Eve Out of Her Ruins. Trans. Jeffrey Zuckerman. Dallas, Texas. Deep Vellum. 2016. 160 pages.When tourists visit the island of Mauritius, located off the east coast of Africa, they see gorgeous beaches and luxury hotels and not the hopelessness...
Five Poems
9:40 a.m. / VenipunctureThe way they step on one another's heelsuntil a spindle-legged woman with dyedhair trips in the queue, and all sticktheir necks forward for fear someonemight overtake them on the productionline behind the door they all strive...
Fragile Travelers
Jovanka Zivanovic. Fragile Travelers. Trans. Jovanka Kalaba. Victoria, Texas. Dalkey Archive Press. 119 pages.Like many postmodern Yugoslav novels, Jovanka Zivanovic's slim debut, Fragile Travelers, mines magical realism in its shifts between, and merging...
Fuchsia
Mahtem Shiferraw. Fuchsia. Lincoln. University of Nebraska Press. 2016. 83 pages.The futility of rage in the face of violence is among the many threads running through Fuchsia, winner of the 2016 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. The physicality...
God Dies by the Nile and Other Novels
Nawal El Saadawi. God Dies by the Nile and Other Novels. London. Zed Books. 2016. 494 pages.Nawal El Saadawi. The Hidden Face of Eve. London. Zed Books. 2015. 368 pages.In a 2012 interview, now eighty-four-year-old Nawal El Saadawi confessed that "I'm...
Half a Lifelong Romance
Eileen Chang. Half a Lifelong Romance. Trans. Karen S. Kingsbury. New York. Anchor Books. 2016. 379 pages.Eileen Chang is undoubtedly one of the most influential writers in modern Chinese literature. Born in Shanghai in 1920, she later moved to America...
Heavens on Earth (an Excerpt)
As teenagers during the first two years of the heavenly seventies, we dreamt of sexual equality; we believed in the Cuban dream; we scribbled slogans against racism, our unconditional adoration for Martin Luther King, and abhorrence of the KKK on our...
Home
Luke shakes the last hand. "If you need to talk" he says, "just give me a call" He picks up his alb and walks to the car. In the driver's seat, he sits staring through the windscreen. Turns on the ignition and drives. Past straggly eucalypts, dry earth...
Imagination and the Environment
In an era in which we spend an increasing number of our waking hours immersed in virtual and augmented realities, gliding across the two-dimensional surfaces of a placeless digital world, it is perhaps not too surprising that a significant number of...
Lahore Nocturne
after Tarfia FaizullahHere, by this tide of waste thatribbons black across empty fields,parched grass a girl gnawsand fills in a straw sack. Here,deep in my own body beatingwith the stop, stop, stop,of the commando's thrustinggun - here, in this hue...
Landing
Laia Fàbregas. Landing. Trans. Samantha Schnee. Madrid. Hispabooks. 2016. 200 pages.Landing is a multifaceted book, written under two simple chapter headings, "Her" and "Him," alternately throughout the book. These chapters develop the individual characters...
Look to the Ladies
This summer the British Library held another of its highly successful Bodies from the Library days celebrating the Golden Age of crime fiction. We had papers on Josephine Tey, Ngaio Marsh, and Georgette Heyer (her crime, not her Regency, novels), all...
Maryam: Keeper of Stories
Alawiya Sobh. Maryam: Keeper of Stories. Trans. Nirvana Tanoukhi. Chicago. Seagull Books (University of Chicago Press, distr.). 2016. 265 pages.Maryam: Keeper of Stories is a novel depicting women's experiences during the Lebanese civil war across class,...
Memoirs of a Polar Bear
Yoko Tawada. Memoirs of a Polar Bear. Trans. Susan Bernofsky. New York. New Directions. 2016. 288 pages.As acrobatic with her writing as her polar bear subjects, Yoko Tawada walks a line between fantastical yet believable. Her novel Memoirs of a Polar...
Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea
Teffi. Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea. Trans. Robert Chandler, Elizabeth Chandler, Anne Marie Jackson & Irina Steinberg. New York. New York Review Books. 2016. 267 pages.In this memoir-cum-travelogue, Teffi, an immensely popular early-twentieth-century...
Mermaids
Sophia Kingshill. Mermaids. Toller Fratrum, UK. Little Toller Books (Dufour Editions, distr.). 2016 (©2015). 148 pages.For many children in Western culture, the first introduction to mermaids is via Disney's cheerful cinematic adaptation of The Little...
Negroland
Margo Jefferson. Negroland. New York. Pantheon Books. 2015. 256 pages.Margo Jefferson, acclaimed journalist and critic, has written a tour de force on the black privileged class. Hers is an artful and complicated memoir that achieves what countless other...
Nota Bene
Nota BeneMarjorie AgosínThe White Islands / Las Islas BlancasTrans. Jacqueline NanfitoSwan Isle PressThis bilingual edition of verse is a triumph of the imagination as Chilean-born Marjorie Agosín retraces the exile of the Sephardic Jews from Spain after...
Of Gatekeepers and Bedtime Stories: The Ongoing Struggle to Make Women's Voices Heard
Do we still need magazines, anthologies, prizes, and publishers' lists devoted solely to women writers? For a start, have recent electoral events not shown that women now have access to the highest position of power in the world, that the glass ceiling...
Olena Chekan: The Quest for a Free Ukraine
Miscellaneous Olena Chekan. Olena Chekan: The Quest for a Free Ukraine. Ed. Bohdan Rodyuk Chekan. Vienna. Der Konterfei. 2015. 93 pages.Ukranian actor and journalist Olena Chekan died of a brain tumor just as protests calling for a freer and more democratic...
One Hundred Hungers
VerseLauren Camp. One Hundred Hungers. North Adams, Massachusetts. Tupelo Press. 2016. 91 pages.One Hundred Hungers is a book of exile, faith, and acceptance. Of flavor, desire, and violation. Poet Lauren Camp confides in us what feels like a timeless...
One Hundred Twenty-One Days
Michèle Audin. One Hundred Twenty-One Days. Trans. Christiana Hills. Dallas, Texas. Deep Vellum. 2016. 176 pages.One Hundred Twenty-One Days, the debut novel by mathematician and Oulipo member Michèle Audin, is truly the sum of its parts. Each of the...
One of Us Is Sleeping
Josefine Klougart. One of Us Is Sleeping. Trans. Martin Aitken. Rochester, NY. Open Letter. 2016. 260 pages.If one of us is sleeping, is the other one awake? Might Danish author Josefine Klougart's English-language debut be a luminous waking dream? The...
On the Way Down: Fluttering Wings and Three-Dimensional Afterthoughts
#1 EmotionsI was in the museum in that old Paris railway station, standing in front of an artist's self-portrait, twisting my lips, trying to fit the picture into some cubbyhole in my brain so I could get on with my life. I felt as if my brain were dissolving....
Papi
Rita Indiana. Papi. Trans. Achy Obejas. Chicago. University of Chicago Press. 2016. 145 pages.In "Ain't No Sunshine" by Bill Withers, the performer sings "I know" a remarkable one hundred-plus times. Surprisingly, the repetition of these lyrics does...
Playing the Classical Chinese Literati Tradition
I have great respect for all musical traditions and have enjoyed collaborating in past decades with great musicians from different cultural backgrounds, including African, Arab, Indian, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Western. It was indeed mindbroadening...
Proben Von Stein Und Licht
Anja Kampmann. Proben von Stein und Licht. Munich. Carl Hanser Verlag. 2016. 94 pages.The earthly and the man-made interact with one another in Proben von Stein und Licht, a debut collection of poetry by Anja Kampmann that testifies to how the political...
Quilts and Human Rights
Marsha MacDowell, Mary Worrall, Lynne Swanson & Beth Donaldson. Quilts and Human Rights. Lincoln. University of Nebraska Press. 2016. 210 pages.In this lushly illustrated exhibition catalog, Michigan State University Museum curators Marsha MacDowell,...
Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches from Turkey, Syria, and Iraq
Sarah Glidden. Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches from Turkey, Syria, and Iraq. Montreal. Drawn & Quarterly. 2016. 304 pages.Despite their constant presence in the news, the countries traversed in this welcome graphic docu/memoir are still as alien to...
Rotten Row
Petina Gappah Rotten Row Faber & Faber 2016Petina Gappah's new collection of stories is named after the street where the criminal courts in Harare sit: Rotten Row, where the powerful avoid punishment with a bribe and if the mob mentality doesn't...
Scattering the Dark: An Anthology of Polish Women Poets
Scattering the Dark: An Anthology of Polish Women Poets. Ed. Karen Kovacik. Buffalo, New York. White Pine Press. 2016. 246 pages.It was not until Wislawa Szymborska won the Nobel Prize in 1996 that Polish women poets began to achieve national as well...
Sleeping on Jupiter
Anuradha Roy. Sleeping on Jupiter. Minneapolis. Graywolf Press. 2016 (©2015). 256 pages.In this third novel, Anuradha Roy explores the lingering trauma of childhood sexual abuse in the psyche of a young Nomita. Nomi, a child victim of civil strife in...
The Brooklyn Book Festival
Celebrating its eleventh year, the Brooklyn Book Festival hosts writers from around the world and highlights the literary landscape in a two-day book extravaganza. The festival not only includes scores of booths from book publishers and authors but features...
The Encounter
Fiction Gabriela Adamesteanu. The Encounter. Trans. Alistair Ian Blyth. Victoria, Texas. Dalkey Archive Press. 2016. 248 pages.Can horrific psychic wounds from wartime ever really heal? Can one merely will one-self to forget? These are the major themes...
The First Wife: A Tale of Polygamy
Paulina Chiziane. The First Wife: A Tale of Polygamy. Trans. David Brookshaw. New York. Archipelago Books. 2016. 494 pages.In The First Wife, Paulina Chiziane, the first Mozambican woman to publish a novel, writes from the perspective of Rami, who is...
The Gardens of Kammer Castle
She feels neither pain nor sadness, being certain that it's a dream. After the light childbirth that passed almost without her noticing, the newborn, a fat waxen doll, is lying by her side. The midwife's shrill voice snaps: "You must pretend it's alive!"...
The Grouse Hunt
She's still in bed. She already got up once, but crawled back into bed again, inching her way along the walls, trying to make herself invisible, and she has no idea why, it happened from one day to the next; something has changed, though, and it's impossible...
The Kukotsky Enigma
Ludmila Ulitskaya. The Kukotsky Enigma. Trans. Diane Nemec Ignashev. Evanston, Illinois. Northwestern University Press. 2016. 420 pages.Originally penned in 2001 by Ludmila Ulitskaya-one of Russia's most acclaimed contemporary writers and public intellectuals-and...
The Lesser Bohemians
Eimear McBride. The Lesser Bohemians. New York. Hogarth. 2016. 320 pages.Eimear McBride's first novel, 2014's A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing, immediately established the Irish writer as one of the most ambitious and unique voices coming out of Ireland...
"The Most Important Way to Love and Peace Is Justice": A Conversation with Samar Yazbek
In March 2011, after peaceful protests began to emerge across Syria, pushing for government reform, Samar Yazbek witnessed what was a passive, civil uprising become an unthinkable war. Fearing for her safety as a journalist, Yazbek fled to Paris, where...
Three Poems
[Untitled]On recent nightsI look for my homewandering after it in the paths of the universefeeling its way with bare handssinging to it in Hungariancalling it in Hebrewcome, come, come.[Untitled]And what is a house anyway?A structurestanding on foundationsof...
Three Poems
BodyFor Hassan Rabeh, young dancer displaced from Syria, who killed himself by jumping from a seventh-floor balcony in Beirut, Wednesday, June 22, 2016& perhaps you flew. I read the news, how you plunged from the seventh floor, a Beirut balcony,&...
Translating Little Black Boxes
Gunnhild Øyehaug's "Dreamwriter," among other things, is a story about layers, layering, the lattice of the finished work and the trickle down that is life-that wonderful image, the torrfiskstativ with the interplay of light and shadow through the caught,...
Two Poems
Fragments of an Inexistent WholeInspired by Alison Knowles's "A House of Dust"1.Syllables sieved through floating gates,Metal clack of printerMortal rendition, Fortran -The future coming closer and closerHouse of broken dishes / by the sea / using electricityBlack...
Two Poems
A SwapAt the market bus stopI'm waiting with a man in ragged clothes,unshaven, his hair greasy,swinging his hand holding a big plastic bagwith "The Big Shopper" written on it.Why did I smile, why did I bite my lip?The corners of my canvas shopping bagheavy...
Umami
Laia Jufresa. Umami. Trans. Sophie Hughes. London. OneWorld (distr. Publishers Group West/Canada). 2016. 288 pages.The English translation of Umami, by Laia Jufresa, is a thoughtful, eccentric, and heart-wrenching interwoven story told from the perspective...
Unterleuten
Zeh. Unterleuten. Munich. Luchterhand Literaturverlag. 2016. 640 pages.Germany fell in love with Unterleuten, and Juli Zeh's "great German novel" shot to the top of the fiction best-seller lists. It has stayed there, a popular success despite its hefty...
Wellington: Where Words Are Waiting
Like a beautiful, moody lover, Wellington doesn't need to treat you kindly. Friends may sometimes wonder what you see in it, but when the city is good to you with its days of almost painful gorgeousness and clarity, you can forgive its bluster, its temper...
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