Friday, August 22, 2014

Reading the World: from New York to Berlin, with stopovers in Antigua, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka...

This summer, I am taking a trip around the world in short stories (more here: reading the missing parts of the world). The current destinations are: the Granta "Travel" issue, the New Yorker Fiction Podcast, and a Berlin collection.

Granta Travel
Published in summer 2013, the Granta travel collection is refreshing and different, offering unusual places, and an unusual stories. Here's the official note:
"From the Amazon to rural China, west Texas to the caves that lurk beneath the Peak District, this issue of Granta takes you out of your chair and out into the world. Haruki Murakami goes home to Kobe, Teju Cole meditates on danger in Lagos and Lina Wolff imagines a woman adrift in Madrid. Here are eighteen collisions between people and the places that have made them, shaped them and terrified them."
And here's the online page with excerpts of several of the stories and additional texts: Granta Travel


The New Yorker Fiction Podcast
It was during one of my online searches for international short stories that I arrived at the New Yorker Fiction Podcast page. I almost klicked away, then tried one of the podcasts - and then returned there several times. Such a great format and series. The podcast include both the stories and a talk about them. Here are some of the international talks / stories, with extra links:

New Zealand
Miranda July reads Janet Frame's short story “Prizes
"Life is hell but at least there are prizes. Or so one thought..." (Janet Frame Blog)

Edwidge Danticat  reads 2 stories by Jamaica Kincaid: "Girl” and “Wingless
"Wash the white clothes on Monday and put them on the stone heap; wash the color clothes on Tuesday and put them on the clothesline to dry; don't walk barehead in the hot sun;..." (story + interview with J. Kincaid)

Francisco Goldman reads Roberto Bolaño’s short story “Clara"
"Sometimes, when I’m alone and can’t get to sleep but don’t feel up to switching on the light, I think of Clara, who came in second in that beauty contest..." (& a user's guide to Bolano)

Hisham Matar reads “Shakespeare’s Memory” by Jorge Luis Borges
"This story, which is one of the last that Borges wrote, is a meditation on the mind, understanding, and inspiration—and it draws on the author’s deep erudition..."

Jonathan Safran Foer reads Amos Oz’s “The King of Norway”
"Zvi Provizor loved to convey bad news: earthquakes, plane crashes, buildings collapsing on their occupants, fires, and floods. He read the papers and listened to all the news broadcasts very early in the morning... (story link)


Berlin Metropole 
Parallel to the Granta Travel collection, i am reading a Berlin collection - this is another of the surprise treats telephone book box. The collection was published in 1999, and features stories and essays from the re-united and new / old capital Berlin, and was very timely back then with stories on Berlin turning to a huge building site, and the shift of the capital from Bonn back to Berlin, covering moments and views from the German reunification in 1990 to the capital shift that happened in 1999.

Unfortunately, there is no online page for the book, and no english versions of the stories. So no direct links to share from it, but it made me go and revisit my own memories of being in Berlin: "Four Berlins, or: I am (t)here"


The New Yorker Fiction Archive
And more reads, leading from Berlin back to New York and onwards: listening to the New Yorker Podcast and following the links included, I arrived in Haiti and Sri Lanka, in Ethiopia and Norway:

Edwidge Danticat: "Ghosts"
"Pascal Dorien was living in Bel Air—the Baghdad of Haiti, some people called it, but that would be Cité Pendue, an even more destitute and brutal neighborhood, where hundreds of middle-school children entering a national art contest drew M-16s and beheaded corpses. Bel Air was actually a mid-level slum.."

Sri Lanka
Romesh Gunesekra: "Roadkill"
"The first night I stayed in Kilinochchi I was a little apprehensive. Most of us living in the south of Sri Lanka had come to think of this town as the nerve center of terror..."

Dinaw Mengestu: "The Paper Revolution"
"When Isaac and I first met, at the university, we both pretended that the campus and the streets of the capital were as familiar to us as the dirt paths of the rural villages where we had grown up and lived until only a few months earlier..."

Karl Ove Knausgaard: "Come Together"
"I was almost twelve years old, going into the fifth year of barneskole..."


Links + More

Reading the world:  the collected list of stories is online here: global reading, and a note on the reading journey can be found here:  reading the (missing parts of) the world 

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