- Anita Raja
- Jan Dammu Jung Young Su
- Marie-Célie Agnant
- László Krasznahorkai Stefan Zweig and Guillermo Fadanelli
Rub your eyes no more: our Fall 2016 issue, 'Verisimilitude,' is here (watch the video trailer)! We’ve materialized from the ether dream-team authors Halldór Laxness (Iceland’s Nobel Laureate), László Krasznahorkai (2015’s International Man Booker Prizewinner), Grand Budapest Hotel muse Stefan Zweig, and last, but certainly not least, Anita Raja, whose exquisite essay we accepted for publication before news broke about the real Elena Ferrante. Our nets cast wide, we’ve shined our searchlight beyond Europe too; gathered here are works from 31 countries, including fiction from Algeria, nonfiction from Cambodia, poetry from Uruguay, drama from Côte d’Ivoire, and visual art from Nepal. All of it is brilliantly illustrated by Madrid-based guest artist Florinda Pamungkas.
Our wildcard Special Feature this issue takes us to Canada, but not the one you might be familiar with: assistant editor K.T. Billey presents First Nations and Aboriginal poets alongside Francophone and Latin American diasporic voices. Of the five new languages in our pages this issue (bringing our tally of languages up to 109), you’ve probably never heard of the three from this feature (neither have we, to be honest!): Anishinaabemowin, Cree, and Innu.
Also making its debut in Asymptote, Georgia gives us, via Vazha Pshavela, an essay about the self and world, urging the reader to beware of pseudo-cosmoplitanism (for “cosmopolitanism [is] a matter for the brain”). Pair with Stefan Zweig’s emotional farewell to friends in foreign lands and renouncement of formerly felt commonalities, shortly after the outbreak of World War I.
“Foreign lands” also dominate the Poetry section, which opens with celebrated Taiwanese poet Hsia Yü’s gorgeous text- and movie-still-collages of Paris, and closes with Singapore-born Tan Chee Lay’s acrostic, spelling out the TAIWAN of his university days via a dreamlike meditation on history, politics, and self, through place. In between, many other places emerge, such as the unreal vistas borne of “insomnia’s sediments” in Jan Dammu’s poetry; or a nocturnal Pennsylvania reminding rockstar poet Serhiy Zhadan of “all that junk called ‘Soviet life’.” Whereas “voices of the near” wake up in India’s Kunwar Narain to become “silences of the far,” it’s from the future that Iran’s Rasool Yoonan invites us to see the ‘here’ in the irresistible: “Take a photo of me as a keepsake; I am the human of the 21st century!"
The first set of trompe-l’oeils in our Fiction category also invites us to take the long view, teleporting us through the ages from Halldór Laxness’ medieval Iceland and Su Qing’s early 20th century China to Maïssa Bey’s modern-day Algeria—all while examining a timeless gender divide. In the next three pieces, doubt and uncertainty are agents of unraveling set against the backdrop of knowledge-centered academia. Rounding off the entire section is Jung Young Su’s artfully constructed (and admirably translated) laugh-out-loud tale of translator hubris, which one might contrast with Anita Raja’s genuinely edifying notes on translation.
Elsewhere, read about and pore over visual artist Stefana McClure’s tactile translations, get high with a couple who have just won the lottery, as dramatized by György Spiró (the author du jour who recently gave us Captivity), and find out from our exclusive interview with Lászlo Krasznahorkai why nothing is real but nature. Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t recommend Guillermo Fadanelli’s entertaining and supremely wise freeform treatise on literature and the question of being. In an issue that’s unusually crowded with gems (even for Asymptote), this article stood out for me.
A few housekeeping announcements: Submissions are now open for the latest installment of our now annual Close Approximations international translation contest (find the details here). David Bellos (author of Is That a Fish in Your Ear?) and Sawako Nakayasu (winner of the Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize) will help us award $3,000 in prizes to six emerging translators. All winners will also be published in our April 2017 issue, and possibly at our partner newspaper The Guardian. The deadline to submit to this contest is 1 February 2017.
We're also casting our nets far and wide for new team members to fill our many new volunteer positions, including the Writers on Writers section editorship, and for the first time this year, we are advertising for new editors-at-large. In line with our ambitious plans for expansion, we are also seeking a human resources manager, a head of programming (events), and grantwriter, alongside our usual call for graphic designers and audio editors (three-month internships can also be arranged). As this final recruitment call of the year notes, it is unfortunate that magazines with key editors and position-holders of non-White or non-Western backgrounds are still a rarity in English-language literary publishing (To wit: I was the only Asian editor invited to this year's London Book Fair panel on "Discovering New Stories from Asia"). If you treasure not only what we do, but also the lengths we take to be an inclusive journal—as regards what we publish, and whom we put on our masthead—please help us spread the word.
As you do so, why not consider a donation in support of our challenging mission too? The hard reality is that Asymptote has in all its six years of existence been unaffiliated with any university or government; being based out of Asia means we also don't qualify for the funding that like organizations in US or Europe receive. Whereas most 'world literature' journals publish country-themed issues (which easily qualifies them for funding), our commitment is to delivering the freshest literature from the world over, issue after issue. For as little as US$5 a month, you could be a part of our mission: to build the greatest archive of world literature ever. Don't wait! Become a sustaining member today.
—Lee Yew Leong, Editor-in-Chief
Editorial Team for Issue October 2016
Editor-in-Chief: Lee Yew Leong (Taiwan/Singapore)
Assistant Managing Editors: Sam Carter (USA), Lori Feathers (USA), Janani Ganesan (India)
Lee Yew Leong (Taiwan/Singapore)
Aditi Machado (India/USA)
Joshua Craze (UK/USA)
Caridad Svich (USA/UK)
Ellen Jones (UK)
Henry Ace Knight (USA)
Eva Heisler (USA)
Senior Editor (Chinese): Chenxin Jiang
Assistant Editors: Alexis Almeida (USA), K. T. Billey (USA), Julia Leverone (USA), P. T. Smith (USA), and Lin Chia-wei (Taiwan)
Ellen Elias-Bursac (USA), Howard Goldblatt (USA), George Henson (USA), Aamer Hussein (Pakistan/UK), Sylvia Lin (Taiwan/USA), Sayuri Okamoto (Japan/Italy), Sim Yee Chiang (Singapore), Antony Shugaar (Italy), Dylan Suher (USA) and Adrian West (USA)
Chinese Contributing Editor: Francis Li Zhuoxiong (Hong Kong/Taiwan)
Spanish Contributing Editor: Soledad Marambio (Chile/USA)
Commissioning Editor: J.S. Tennant (UK)
Blog Editors: Hanna Heiskanen (Blog Editor), Madeline Jones (Blog Editor) and Nina Sparling (USA)
Translation Tuesdays Editor: Lee Yew Leong (Taiwan/Singapore)
Interview Features Editor: Ryan Mihaly (USA)
Podcast Editor: Layla Benitez-James (USA/Spain)
Art Director: Lee Yew Leong
Assistant Director, Educational Arm: Lindsay Semel (USA)
Educational Arm Assistants: Anna Aresi and Leela Levitt
Editor-at-large, Australia: Beau Lowenstern
Editor-at-large, Bosnia and Herzegovina: Mirza Puric
Editor-at-large, Canada: Marc Charron
Editor-at-large, Egypt: Omar El Adl
Editor-at-large, Hong Kong: Charlie Ng Chak-Kwan
Editors-at-large, India: Naheed Patel and Poorna Swami
Editor-at-large, Indonesia: Tiffany Tsao
Editor-at-large, Iran: Poupeh Missaghi
Editor-at-large, Poland: Beatrice Smigasiewicz
Editor-at-large, Romania and Moldova: MARGENTO
Editor-at-large, Slovakia: Julia Sherwood
Editor-at-large, South Africa: Alice Inggs
Editor-at-large, Taiwan: Vivian Chih
Editor-at-large, UK: Megan Bradshaw
Masthead for Issue October 2016
Fiction: Lee Yew Leong
Nonfiction: Joshua Craze
Poetry: Aditi Machado
Drama: Caridad Svich
Criticism: Ellen Jones
Writers on Writers: Lori Feathers
Visual: Eva Heisler
Interviews: Henry Ace Knight
Illustrations and Cover: Florinda Pamungkas
Chief Executive Assistant: Theophilus Kwek
Executive Assistants: Sarah Ahmad, Laura Garmeson, and Nozomi Saito
Guest Artist Liaison: Berny Tan
Proofreaders: Ellen Elias-Bursac, Nozomi Saito, Thea Hawlin, Naheed Patel, Arthur Dixon, and Lori Feathers
Technical Manager: József Szabó
Director of Outreach: Ryan Celley
Marketing Manager: David Maclean
Guest Artist Liaison: Berny Tan
English Social Media: Sohini Basak, Hannah Berk, Thea Hawlin, Nolan MacGregor, and Hannah Vose
Spanish Social Media: Arthur Dixon
Chinese Social Media: Zhang Zhuxin and Zhang Lingyu
Incoming: Talia Behrend-Wilcox (Newsletter Editor).
Asymptote would like to acknowledge the support and/or contributions of: National Arts Council (Singapore), Rahul Soni, Daniel Hahn, Deborah Smith, Laura Barber, Adam Freudenheim, and Jonathan Ruppin.
For their generous donations, our heartfelt thanks go too to Anna Aresi, Tanjil Rashid, Teng Qian Xi, Mark Cohen, Miriam Bidenne, Sandra Valnes Quammen, Anne Berk, Geoffrey Howes, Nathaniel Jones, Rachel Dixon, and Gao Wei.