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Matthew Byrne

is a writer and translator based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Trouble in Paradise

Cabin fever is consuming us. We’ve all gone a bit stir-crazy. Like many before the pandemic struck, I had plans, but they were dashed in February. Or was it March? The months dissolve into each other. I was supposed to touch down in “the Garden Island” on Hawaiian Airlines in mid-November, flying into Līhuʻe from Oakland International Airport. A Hawaiian November would have been quite unlike a San Franciscan autumn, when the Bay’s chill blankets the city and its coastline.

Sandcastles: Afghanistan, One Year On

A symbolic twenty years after 9/11, the Biden administration formally ended the United States’ war in Afghanistan, withdrawing the last of its troops from the south-central Asian nation. Melancholy anniversaries serve as reminders of missed opportunities, and this one is no different. Here, however, blunders appear frivolous when compared to the extraordinary corruption and pitiless violence perpetrated by US-backed forces in the region. While much has been made of the shockingly haphazard exit, the ease with which the Taliban seized Kabul, and the grim prospects for women, for girls, and for Afghans who worked with coalition forces, the cardinal sin of the war was not how it ended, but how it began.


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2023

All Issues