Not sure where to start with the brand new Winter 2019 issue of Asymptote? At 35 countries represented, this issue is our most diverse yet, and marks the eighth anniversary of Asymptote. Here, our Section Editors recommend some of their favourite pieces from their respective sections.
The writing of María Sánchez tracks close to the ground; she hunts experience. In “The Next Word,” compellingly translated by Bella Bosworth, we accompany Sánchez in her truck, as she drives around the Spanish countryside, working as a field veterinarian. There is a great slowness to her prose, born of hours of careful observation of people and things. The letters that composed this piece read like prayers, written to an unknown God, in praise of those small moments in which, as Sánchez writes, “life stands still and nothing happens.” There is a delicate empiricism at work here—an empathy with the world and its rhythms that Sánchez reads by looking at her, as if she were the geiger counter of existence. “Sometimes”, she writes, quoting Gabriella Ybarra, “imagining has been the only option I have had to try to understand.”
— Joshua Craze, Nonfiction Editor
In this Winter issue, we’re thrilled to feature Jared Spears writing on Haitian writer and activist Félix Morisseau-Leroy, hailed the “voice of Haiti.” Spears’ essay moves deftly through time and place—from his role in Haiti’s Creole Renaissance in the fifties and the championing of Creole as a language of literature, to his some thirty years of exile living far from home in countries like Ghana, Senegal, and America. And when Spears dives into Morisseau’s early story-poems, Natif-Natal, we pause where we must—where the poem’s music calls, where its words cut, and where history again complicates. What strikes me most about this essay is its patience. You’ll leave wanting to read more of Haiti’s beloved “Moriso,” and reminded again of the beauty in true multiplicity. Here for a while, we can rest in this space where the voices are many and dissimilar ideas pose no threat to each other.
— Ah-Reum Han, Writers on Writers Editor
This January 2019 issue features two fascinating pieces: Li Jing’s Comedies from the State of Qin, translated by Andreea Chirita, is a beguilingly witty and intelligent piece about power and who gets to wield it and why, and Patricia Ariza’s Soma Mnemosyne, translated by David Pegg, is a powerful and incantatory piece about memory, forgetting, and silenced bodies demanding to be heard.
— Caridad Svich, Drama Editor
A very good place to start with Asymptote’s latest issue is Jenni Råback’s review of Laura Lindstedt’s Oneiron, recently translated from the Finnish by Owen Witesman. Råback writes knowledgeably about the novel’s controversial reception in Finland, and the ways it draws (knowingly) on national, cultural, and gender stereotypes. She is particularly good with the translational difficulties presented by this often-multilingual book, and in close-readings that illuminate differences in the English and Finnish vocabularies available for discussions about racism. Råback’s review is a well-articulated, insightful examination of the multiple, contradictory ways this novel thinks about identity, language, and communication.
— Ellen Jones, Criticism Editor
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