Since 1972, land artist Michael Heizer has been constructing a vast complex of clean concrete slabs and burial mounds, or tumuli, in the high desert of Nevada. Monumental, but lacking any obvious purpose, Heizer’s City seems destined to confound generations of observers.
We turn to international fiction for new voices, new worlds, and new perspectives. But beyond the new, theres another feature that I find myself in dire need of right now: external gravity. This month we publish excerpts from two recent selections in Archipelago Books expansive map of world literature. The first story, Igifu, by Rwandan writer Scholastique Mukasonga, makes physical the weight of hunger (igifu) and shows how lack can become the center around which a family orbits. The second selection is an excerpt from Colombian novelist Tomás Gonzálezs Difficult Light. The novel consists of thirty three meditations on family and beauty, told by a painter looking up from the gravity well of grief. Both Mukasonga and González write with profound depth and make us question whether the center were wheeling around is really so central, so inescapable after all.
Were very excited to be publishing these two excerpts this month: one a much-anticipated reissue of a 1969 debut novel and the other a wondrously original vision that strikes at the very grammar of being.
This month were pleased to publish an excerpt from Vesna Marics The President Shop. The novels backdrop is an allegorical country, The Nation, steeped in tyranny, but the focus is on the human rather than the trappings of propaganda. I was struck by the young woman, Mona, decoding the timelessness thats always present, even as we pass through moments that are consciously historic. Symbology, by Betsy M. Narváez, abounds in images, meanings, dreams, and visions. Here, theres no official, waking world, little external at all. Narváez gives us resonant moments over coffee of a mother and a daughter unpuzzling the language of dreams. Were also tremendously fortunate to have Maisy Card stepping in as co-editor of the fiction section of the Brooklyn Rail. Her debut novel, These Ghosts are Family, masterfully courses through the history of a family while communicating the texture and hunger of life as it was lived.