In this Issue - Web Exclusives
One of the Asia Literary Review’s principal aims over the past decade has been to introduce undiscovered Asian voices to the English-language world. Sometimes, stories come to us from emerging writers (some young, some not-so) as unsolicited submissions which simply leap off the page and demand attention. However, many more of our published works new to an English readership come to us from an indispensable but under-appreciated core of literary professionals – the translators.
You came to me unexpectedly, long after I had stopped hoping. The air smelled of rain and grass. I was carrying the shopping, an umbrella tucked under my arm. I was carrying a loneliness that extended like a sword from my heart.
We never talked about whether Jains
were OK with electric crematoriums
when I was younger. These days even
the chairs have opinions on mortality,
speak with certainty, like people
who are convinced they know exactly
which mosquito gave them dengue.
Armed with a knife, Pak Eko carefully unlatched the front windows. The porch, its cracked tiles dull under the fifteen-watt bulb, seemed empty. Pak Eko caught a whiff of something rotten, and then it was gone. He was about to close the windows when the creature appeared on the left side of the porch.
When the developers said they were building a wall to keep out the sound, everybody thought it was a good idea. For the past few years, the expressway had been expanding closer and closer to our houses. It used to be a full sixty metres away, but now had come so close we were practically run over every time we opened our back doors.
One morning, a seven-year-old girl was hit by a car outside her back door. Late that very night, the developers started building a wall along the side of the road.
We learned to say trunk calls,
long-distance minutes with
the lost boy or uncle in England,
Marc Quinn made self-portraits using his own blood. To create Self, he steadily extracted his blood over a five-month period until he had saved up four and a half litres, the amount normally found in the body. He then poured the blood into a silicone mould of his own face.
Is there anything more moving than two young men
in a Toyota Rush parked in the corner of level P3,
stealing a little time and space for themselves,
exchanging kisses wide-eyed – keeping watch as one
The woman climbed up onto the iron railing and grabbed the drainpipe. It was a quick movement, fearless. The man’s left hand pointed up at her face. She thrust out her free arm and pointed back. I turned toward the restaurant and looked at my friends sitting inside by the window. I suddenly felt afraid, all alone, watching the pair on the balcony.
Winter is coming and a bitter cold assails us. It’s carried on the wind. The winds have carried something else too: malicious gossip that Fuhai fucked someone else’s woman. What amazes us is not that he did something so vile but that he could get it up at all. He’s a wrinkled old man, with a prick that shrivelled up a long time ago.
He held the book in his hand and very hesitantly muttered something about wanting to sell it, frequently looking to his left and right up and down the road. Someone had already made him a counter-offer, thinking the asking price too high. One look was enough to tell me that what he was selling was a banned book. I said I wanted to take a look at it: reluctantly he handed it over, still holding onto one half which he would not let go of.
The bird cried with a wildness, yellow beak parted in gasps
as his feathers peeled away with the pitch,
skin underneath raw and burned.
We left him there, panting under an overturned laundry basket,
too ashamed and weak to end it.
You can appreciate culture
fold your legs in supplication
bend your head, fast all day in a temple
knowing tomorrow you will be home.
‘You’re going to be busy next year,’ declared old lady Soneda. It was a fine evening in late December. They were in the hospital lounge, which was very quiet. Outside the windows, a threadbare lawn and withered trees with naked branches could be seen.
There are the gentrified mountains, not
Enough to unsettle, no, but enough
To be a logical foil for the gleaming city
Construed for a new nation.
he man I love is on TV. He is a comedian. Like a professional pool player who carefully plans his shot, he waits for the right moment between sentences and makes people freeze in place. Slow speech and lackadaisical movement. Then, words spoken out of nowhere that baffle the audience for a moment, followed by erupting laughter as realisation dawns on them.
A nursing home? Hell, no! I’ll never
go, my father says, damned waiting
room for death. But my mother says
she’s ready, she’s tired of endless chores,
the thieves, the cockroaches. Let me rest,
please, she begs.
Margrét Helgadóttir is editor of the Fox Spirit Book of Monsters, a seven-volume series with titles published annually from 2014–2020. The first three volumes cover European, African and Asian monsters. In 2016, African Monsters was shortlisted for the British Fantasy Awards.
Now I’m going to tell you a story about women and love, said Tunick. Or rather, it’s a story about the dark side of love: fickleness, jealousy, and fury. You shall witness many evil deeds committed in the name of love. It’s a story that unleashes your most perverted fantasies, in which you torture your ex-lovers out of guilt and feigned anger, ruin them with rumours, kill them with a borrowed knife, wipe out every single relative of your love-rivals, fornicate with your neighbour’s wife and daughter, kill your best pal and screw his voluptuous wife...