Editor's Note

Emblazoned with an iceberg and a polar bear, our Summer issue is looking decidedly frosty. (Video trailer here.) Wondering why? We're dedicating much of the issue to literature from Latin America, where the World Cup just concluded in the heart of winter. What's more: the cover's juxtaposition of man versus animal extends into Fiction (where Zsófia Bán channels the USSR's first dog in space and Faruk Šehić's terrestrial astronaut learns to read fish), Nonfiction (where Uyghur writer Patigul mimics a monkey), and even to our largest-ever Criticism section (where Guadalupe Nettel translates "animal traits to human behavior"). Throughout, guest artist Robert Zhao Renhui's mysterious photography highlights man's fragile position vis-à-vis the natural world, complementing an exciting lineup that includes César Aira, Sergio Chejfec, Amit Chaudhuri, Daniel Hahn, Mary Jo Bang & Yuki Tanaka, 'Misty poet' Wang Xiaoni, Mui Poopoksakul's survey of Thai fiction, and a review of Qiu Miaojin's Last Words from Montmartre alongside an excerpt from a now-uncensored feminist classic from 1954, Thérèse and Isabelle, Violette Leduc's scandalous account of convent-girl passion (a treat if you've just caught Martin Provost's "Violette" at the cinema).

Our special feature on Latin American fiction continues this theme of rebellion, with warm tributes to Gabriel García Márquez (by his Portuguese translator), Julio Cortázar (by the great Chejfec), and Osvaldo Lamborghini (by Aira, translated by recent English PEN Award winner and Asymptote contributing editor Adrian West) appearing alongside authors translated into English for the very first time: Julián Herbert (Mexico) and Nona Fernández (Chile). Poetry opens with Waly Salomão, a jet-lagged poet from Syria and Brazil, and closes with Raúl Zurita, the Chilean poet and performance artist who wrote some of the largest poems ever using bulldozers and skywriting planes.

In our Visual section, this drone's-eye view is addressed by Mahwish Chishty, who appropriates colorful "truck art" in her depiction of unmanned warcraft. Like Chishty, our other featured Pakistani artist, Hiba Schahbaz, was trained as a miniature painter, only she uses that technique to depict the magnificent Hagia Sophia, for instance, or a devastating flood. Our funniest pieces, meanwhile, can be found in Drama, where Evelyne de la Chenelière & Daniel Brière slyly parody a "smoothly functioning family unit in which each of us continuously flourished alongside all the others" and Marion Aubert delivers a hilarious spin on la Résistance (co-translated, it must be said, by leading scholar of the undead, Erik Butler).

As a preview of next issue's English-language Poetry feature centered on myth (submit by August 15!), Mieczysław Jastrun's poems pointedly reference Midas and Jesus, and one translator, Emily Wilson, foregrounds the feminist divine in a 15th-century tribute to the Virgin Mary. Counterpointing these works is the apocalyptic eco-poetry of Theis Ørntoft, recently announced winner of the prestigious Michael Strunge Prize, who will participate in our first-ever Copenhagen event jointly presented with ark books and taking place on July 22, alongside past contributors Lennox Raphael, Thomas E. Kennedy, and Niels Hav, among others (RSVP here); indeed, we can think of no better occasion to formally announce our Danish Fiction Special Feature for January 2015. Last but not least, our final recruitment call of the year has just been posted; send in your applications if you'd like to join a team with star players from all over the world. It's like soccer, really, only here it's not only Germany that wins in the end. Chant it with us now, "WOOOOOOORLD LITERATUUUUURE!"

—Lee Yew Leong, Editor-in-Chief

Editorial Team for Issue July 2014

Editor-in-Chief: Lee Yew Leong (Taiwan/Singapore)

Assistant Managing Editors: Eric M. B. Becker (USA/Brazil) and Lynette Lee (Hong Kong/USA)

Senior Editor: Florian Duijsens (Germany/Netherlands)
Senior Editor (Chinese): Chenxin Jiang (Hong Kong/USA)

Section Editors:
Lee Yew Leong (Taiwan/Singapore)
Aditi Machado (India/USA)
Joshua Craze (UK/USA)
Caridad Svich (USA/UK)
Ellen Jones (UK)
Matthew Jakubowski (USA)
Luisa Zielinski (Germany)
Megan McDowell (Norway/USA)

Assistant Editor: Daniel Goulden (USA)

Contributing Editors:
Brother Anthony of Taizé (Korea), Ellen Elias-Bursac (USA), Howard Goldblatt (USA), Aamer Hussein (Pakistan/UK), Sylvia Lin (Taiwan/USA), Sayuri Okamoto (Japan/Italy), Sim Yee Chiang (Singapore), Dylan Suher (USA) and Adrian West (USA)

Chinese Contributing Editor: Francis Li Zhuoxiong (Hong Kong/Taiwan)

Commissioning Editor: Aaron Kerner (USA)

Editors-at-large, Argentina: Frances Riddle and Maureen Shaughnessy
Editor-at-large, Australia: Stephanie Guest
Editor-at-large, Belgium: Veronka Kover
Editor-at-large, Bosnia and Herzegovina: Mirza Puric
Editor-at-large, Croatia: Ervin Felić
Editor-at-large, Denmark: Katrine Øgaard Jensen
Editor-at-large, Ecuador: Sarah Foster
Editor-at-large, Hong Kong: Charlie Ng Chak-Kwan
Editor-at-large, Hungary: Ágnes Orzóy
Editor-at-large, India: Rahul Soni
Editor-at-large, Indonesia: Tiffany Tsao
Editor-at-large, Italy: Antony Shugaar
Editor-at-large, Iran: Farzaneh Doosti
Editor-at-large, Israel: Yardenne Greenspan
Editor-at-large, Malaysia: Nicole Idar
Editor-at-large, Mexico: Sophie Hughes
Editor-at-large, Norway: Julia Gronnevet
Editor-at-large, Slovakia: Julia Sherwood
Editor-at-large, Slovenia: Nina Beguš
Editor-at-large, Sweden: Jasmine Heydari
Editor-at-large, Taiwan: Vivian Chih
Editor-at-large, UK: Paula Porroni

Blog Editors: Patricia Nash and Eva Richter

Masthead for Issue July 2014

Fiction and Visual: Lee Yew Leong
Nonfiction: Joshua Craze
Poetry: Aditi Machado
Drama: Caridad Svich
WoW: Luisa Zielinski
Criticism: Ellen Jones
Interviews: Matthew Jakubowski
Illustrations and Cover: Robert Zhao Renhui
Guest Artist Liaison: Berny Tan
Chief Proofreader: Diana George
Proofreaders: Chenxin Jiang, Mirza Puric, Patty Nash, Paula Porroni, Tiffany Tsao, Yardenne Greenspan and Yee Chiang Sim
Assistant Managing Editors: Eric M. B. Becker and Lynette Lee
Senior Editor: Florian Duijsens
Senior Editor (Chinese): Chenxin Jiang
Assistant Editor: Daniel Goulden
Blog Editors: Patricia Nash and Eva Richter
Chief Executive Assistant: Berny Tan
Executive Assistants: Dilini Samarasinghe and Charlie Ng Chak-Kwan
Technical Manager: József Szabó
Graphic Designer: Lee Yew Leong and Berny Tan
Video Producer: Sarah Chan
Fundraiser: Erin Stephens-North
English Social Media: Sohini Basak
Chinese Social Media: Zhang Zhuxin, Haiyun Yu and Wang Sihan
Spanish Social Media: Daniella Avila and Laura Valdivia
Intern: Hannah Berk and Tiffany Ferentini 

Asymptote would like to acknowledge the support and/or contributions of: Alex Sham, Alexander Dickow, Alketa Halilaj, Amy Scholder, Ariane Michaloux, Dana Khromov, Darryl Sterk, Dolan Morgan, Elen Turner, Eunice Kim, Frederic Tuten, Hiba Schahbaz, Julia Balogh, Kit Schutler, Louise Law, Michael Gaeb, Nicolette Praca, Olivia Awbrey, Praveen Krishna, Rhonda Lee Buchanan, Stéphane Houssier, Stephanie Lee, Tang Fu Kuen, Ye Mimi and Yiwen Cai.

For their kind donations, thanks also go to Burns Magruder, David North, Deanne Tan, Dylan Suher, Emma Stewart, Jasmine Heydari, John Tollefsen, Lawrence Venuti, Lynette Lee, Mavis Tan, Monika Cassel, Nicole Idar, Sara Edinger, Simon Collinson and Suchanda Sar.



Faruk Šehić, Fish Reading

Translated from the Bosnian by Mirza Purić

I am a terrestrial astronaut. I travel motionlessly, aimlessly.

Accompanied by a video of the author reading the work

Zsófia Bán, On the Eve of No Return

Translated from the Hungarian by Jim Tucker


Silke Scheuermann, Lisa and the Heavenly Body

Translated from the German by Lucy Renner Jones

After a lot of thought, she'd pared down her thirty-line text to seeking man for intensive relationship.

Violette Leduc, from Thérèse and Isabelle

Translated from the French by Sophie Lewis

Hold me tight. You are a village of five hundred souls, I am a village of five hundred souls.


Waly Salomão, Jet-Lagged Poem

Translated from the Portuguese by Maryam Monalisa Gharavi

Like an arrow: multilingualism is the goal.

Manuel Iris, from The Notebook of Dreams

Translated from the Spanish by Matt McBride

Tree of myself, / I am approaching your most fertile region.

Wang Xiaoni, from Something Crosses My Mind

Translated from the Chinese by Eleanor Goodman

Money has depreciated, like salt has depreciated.

Abdourahman Waberi, from The Nomads, My Brothers, Will Drink from the Big Dipper

Translated from the French by Nancy Naomi Carlson

like silk the eye caresses things

Theis Ørntoft, from Poems 2014

Translated from the Danish by Katrine Øgaard Jensen

citruslike sensations / as if I crossed a river / of hypodermic needles.

Ofelia Prodan, Apollodorus the Loose-tongued and the Priests

Translated from the Romanian by Florin Bican

they can't tell apart any more / wonders from everyday things.

Shuzo Takiguchi, from Seven Poems

Translated from the Japanese by Yuki Tanaka and Mary Jo Bang

A can of words / is mistaken for a piece of meat / by starved, eternal birds.

Antonio Geraldini, To Mary, the Goddess Announced in Florence

Translated from the Latin by Emily Wilson

You work these wonders of which the lyre cannot sing with strings and sound.

Judita Vaičiūnaitė, from Crystal

Translated from the Lithuanian by Rimas Uzgiris

Again the marble counter is covered / with blood and sunlight.

Sun Dong, Wall

Translated from the Chinese by Josh Stenberg

they say / speaking without reserve means you can speak forever

Mieczysław Jastrun, from Memorials

Translated from the Polish by Dzvinia Orlowsky and Jeff Friedman

We shifted from foot to foot / waiting in long lines / for our deaths.

Raúl Zurita, from The Country of Ice

Translated from the Spanish by Daniel Borzutzky

you feel the final punch of cold, / of the terrorized, sobbing humanity that / screams, disappearing between the icebergs.


Qiu Miaojin, Last Words from Montmartre

Translated from the Chinese by Ari Larissa Heinrich

A review by Dylan Suher

Qu Yuan said, just before he jumped into the river, "How could I blot out the purest white with the filth and confusion of this vulgar world?"

Followed by a translation into the Chinese by Zhuxin Zhang and Chi Xu

David Damrosch, World Literature in Theory

A review by Jacob Emery

World literature's geography reiterates the map of global markets.

Barbara Cassin, Dictionary of Untranslatables: A Philosophical Lexicon

A review by Michael Kinnucan

For all its virtues, the Dictionary is haunted by a sort of joke at its own expense.

Paulo Scott, Nowhere People

Translated from the Portuguese by Daniel Hahn

An essay by the translator

A translator is supposed to know the culture of the language he translates from, but in practice you often have to fake it.

Guadalupe Nettel, Natural Histories

Translated from the Spanish by J. T. Lichtenstein

An essay by the translator

A text, if it is to find readers outside of its original language, must survive translation.

David Stromberg, Translation: The Problem of Literature and Art

We can know something or someone without necessarily ever understanding that thing or person.


Patigul, Life of a Mimic

Translated from the Chinese by Jim Weldon

It often seems there are two of me, one mimicking the other, this version of me working hard to emulate that other me I'd like to become.

Valentine Goby, Hanoi, Silences

Translated from the French by Christine Buckley

Bodies lock up so much horror.

Eric Nepomuceno, Gabo As I Knew Him

Translated from the Portuguese by Eric M. B. Becker

"I've just written a story of a love so beautiful and so heartbreaking that it's left me feeling like this, completely drained."


Evelyne de la Chenelière and Daniel Brière, from American Shot

Translated from the French by Neil Blackadder

FATHER: We served as an example, without being vain about it.
MOTHER: And also, we were all good-looking.

Marion Aubert, from Debacles

Translated from the French by Kimberly Jannarone and Erik Butler

Oh! I know! I'll dig little holes in the garden and bury all my secrets with the weapons I'm supposed to hide!

Special Feature

César Aira on Osvaldo Lamborghini

Translated from the Spanish by Adrian West

He had a theory about long novels: he said they yielded one phrase, one little "very pretty" phrase.

Followed by a translation into the French by Veronka Kover

Mui Poopoksakul on Contemporary Thai Fiction

Your friends and family might be "Red Shirts," "Yellow Shirts," something in between, or just fed up with all of them shutting things down and blocking traffic.

Latin America Fiction Feature

Sergio Chejfec, The Witness

Translated from the Spanish by Steve Dolph

Anyone who's made the mistake of leaving can't make the mistake of returning.

Julián Herbert, from Tomb Song

Translated from the Spanish by Annie McDermott

The only Family in the country that's still on good terms is based in Michoacán, and it's a clan of narcotraffickers whose members spend their time amputating heads.

Cristina Peri Rossi, from The Children's Rebellion

Translated from the Spanish by Megan Berkobien

He had stars in his fingers and below his fingernails and his pockets were filled with stars and if he took a step his feet would crush the twinkling celestial bodies.

Lina Meruane, Rotten Fruit

Translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell

My sister had vanquished the fruit flies in the warehouse, and now she also had to vanquish the seasonal workers.

Nona Fernández, from Space Invaders

Translated from the Spanish by Dana Khromov

Suddenly, in the middle of a large avenue, a pair of hands that are not ours begins to applaud to an unfamiliar rhythm.

Mariana Enriquez, The Little Angel's Exhumation

Translated from the Spanish by Maureen Shaughnessy

I came across the bones after a storm.


An interview with Amit Chaudhuri on Rabindranath Tagore

Tagore is looked at, if not as a Swedish invention—because of the Nobel—then certainly as a Bengali invention.

An interview with Yuriy Tarnawsky

Imagine if the title in English were "Short Animal Rear End Appendages."

An interview with José Manuel Prieto

Translated from the Spanish by Sophie Hughes

I can't conceive of writing a novel for which I wouldn't develop a narrative device conceived specifically to tell the story I have up my sleeve.