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In Memoriam: The Carnage in Lampedusa, 3 October 2013

Date: 10/03/2015
Erri De Luca

A person runs out of his burning house. Outside he finds firemen, but before letting him go they ask for his papers. If he doesn’t have them, then he can die in the flames.

This is what happens today on the borders of Europe. Women, children, the elderly, and men—fleeing from their homeland in flames—come here and find our barriers on sea and land. So they look to the heavens and ask for wings. Not a passport, a pair of wings.

We citizens of Europe, we’re not waiting for the powers-that-be to give them papers. We are the border, opening our arms up wide; we’re making the right move, the gesture that looks closer to wings. Because we are their wings.

Translated by Jim Hicks

Popular Dystopia Meets Croatia

Date: 09/29/2015
Iva Kosmos

The debut novel from Croatian-American writer Sara Nović, Girl at War, has received significant praise from both readers and critics in influential publications such as the Guardian and the New York Times. According to such reviews, the book succeeds in representing distant experience as universal; it enables readers to empathize...

The Red Hammer

Date: 09/27/2015
Erri De Luca

“Even when we’ve got the seats and they’re standing up, they’re still taking our places.” With this line the Brazilian poet Ledo Ivo captured our sense of intolerance towards the foreigners that misfortune has thrust among us.

It was Easter in 1997 when the Italian military ship Sibilla rammed its bow into the Albanian vessel Kater i Rades, sinking it and causing more than one hundred to drown. So began the present series of attempts—the most desperate and criminal sort—to discourage and repel immigrants. The concentration camps were begun, the detentions that defined prisoners as “guests,” when the only crime was unauthorized travel. Their imprisonment could last up to eighteen months.

In the meantime, back in Lampedusa, the wrecks of barges done with their duties were piling up. No census will ever be capable of listing the numbers lost. Estimating on the basis of what’s known, the equivalent of at least...

No Sacred Cow Unbutchered

Date: 09/09/2015
Michael Thurston

A Review of Najwa Barakat, Oh, Salaam! Trans. Luke Leafgren. Interlink, 2015. 

Once upon a time, Beirut was a famously cosmopolitan capital, its cafes and clubs overflowing with culture in multiple languages. Riven and demolished by decades of sectarian conflict, civil war, and the predations of its neighbors, the city and its country, Lebanon, have joined the list of failing states whose citizens struggle to pick up the pieces and live in peace.

“Peace,” of course, is the meaning...

ef you now what eye mint

Date: 09/04/2015
Derek Pyle, with Marcel Zabaloy

(Link to Part One)

In the modern era, reading as well as writing are often solitary acts. Ulysses of course has its public celebration every Bloomsday, while Finnegans Wake has inspired countless monthly or even weekly reading groups. Has your engagement with Joyce been a solo journey, or do you count yourself amongst other Joycean colleagues and peers?

It has been, as you call it, a solo journey. I am in close contact with Hervé Michel [French translator of Finnegans Wake] as I consider his work Veillée Pinouilles something extraordinary, to say nothing of his “Intraduction”. And the proximity of the French with the Spanish language helps me a lot in the procedure of revising  own translation. I always have Hervé’s text at hand. It is my reference, my main guide. What he dares do I...

"If I did that shamething it was on pure poise"

Date: 09/01/2015
Derek Pyle, with Marcelo Zabaloy

Part One

Marcelo Zabaloy must be a remarkable man, with no shortage of literary ambition and ability. Having completed an unabridged translation of James Joyce’s Ulysses (published in 2015 by el Cuenco de Plata in Buenos Aires), Zabaloy is in the final stages of his next translation. The book? James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake.

While Ulysses is a certainly a difficult book to read, it nonetheless retains a modicum of accessibility in its native tongue—the language may seem rather dialectically Irish, but at least it is more or less a form of English. We might imagine a dedicated translator working on Ulysses as his magnum opus. To translate Finnegans Wake, however, is much more difficult to imagine. How does one...

Eliminating Distance, Engaging with History

Date: 08/28/2015
Abigail Stowe-Thurston

This year August marked the seventieth anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the end of the American war in the Pacific. Had I not been involved with Global Zero, an organization that works to eliminate nuclear weapons, I would likely have spent August 6th and 9th working at my summer job, socializing with friends on the patio of a brewery, or relaxing on the beach. Through my volunteer work with Global Zero, however, I had the opportunity to spend the beginning of August in Japan with a diverse group of students and scholars studying nuclear history and security. While millions of Americans were going about their daily lives, I walked streets that were incinerated seven decades ago and talked to people whose lives were forever altered by the tragedy of the bombings. Since returning from...

A Modest Proposal

Date: 08/26/2015
Mark Mocarski

Neil Lindsay
Vice President, Marketing
410 Terry Avenue North
Seattle, Washington  98109

August 25, 2015

Dear Mr. Lindsay:

After reading the August 16th New York Times article about Amazon, I believe I have a lot of what your company desperately needs in an employee. I'm not just a talented and conscientious worker, I also have a soul. And a heart. And I empathize with people.

Which is why I am sending you my resume. 

You see, I don't believe the workplace needs to be a test of the survival of the cruelest. I also don't think that just because we live in a competitive capitalist society this means...

Which Way the Wind Blows

Date: 08/22/2015
Jim Hicks

On The Stanford Prison Experiment (Part Two)

(Back to Part One)

A cooper, traditionally, made barrels. Also casks, buckets, tubs, butter churns, hogsheads, firkins, tierces, rundlets, puncheons, pipes, tuns, butts, pins, and breakers. Yet cooperage doesn’t end there.

As the psychologist himself understands it, the central thesis of the 1971 Zimbardo study is precisely that the old saw about “bad apples” just doesn’t cut it. For Zimbardo, a former president of the American Psychological Association, evil is a product of “bad...

You Don't Need a Weatherman

Date: 08/20/2015
Jim Hicks

On The Stanford Prison Experiment (Part One)

The trailer for the film dramatization of The Stanford Prison Experiment concludes with words from the actor Billy Crudup, who plays the psychologist Philip Zimbardo.  We first see Zimbardo hang down his head, then the film’s title appears, and then there is a shot of a desk in a darkened room where the team of psychologists sat observing their experiment; a small video monitor sits on the desk, its screen filled with a group of five or more students, assigned to the role of either prisoner or guard. A voice-over entones: “I had no idea it would turn out this way.”

So how did it turn out? Any college student who took an introductory psychology course in the last forty-four years should be able to tell...