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.

Isabel Yap

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.

Tishani Doshi

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.



To get a taste of what's in ALR33, start with the selection of free-to-view articles on our ALR33 contents page. A good place to begin is From the Editors.

Much of this issue celebrates the work of translators, and we include some of the entries and finalists from our collaboration with English PENOne of these is Shion Miura's The Handymen of Mahoro, translated by Asuka Minamoto. Sample some of the issue's poetry with Tishani Doshi and Norman Erikson Pasaribu, and enjoy our interview with Margrét Helgadóttir, editor of Asian Monsters, from which we include two stories.

Subscribers can read the whole issue here on the website, through our online reader or by downloading eBooks from their accounts

Eve Shi


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.

Ho Sok Fong


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.

Indran Amirthanayagam

We learned to say trunk calls,

long-distance minutes with

the lost boy or uncle in England,

Kim Soom


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.

Norman Erikson Pasaribu


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

Shibasaki Tomoka


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.

Sun Yisheng


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.

Yu Jian


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.

Corinne Elysse Adams

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.

Zach MacDonald
Mona Dash


You can appreciate culture

fold your legs in supplication

bend your head, fast all day in a temple

knowing tomorrow you will be home.

Shion Miura


‘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.

Mehvash Amin


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.

Seong Joong Kim


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.

Zilka Joseph

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.

In this issue of the Asia Literary Review we feature two stories from Asian Monsters: Grass Cradle, Glass Lullaby by Isabel Yap and Blood Like Water by Eve Shi.

Yijun Luo


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...