May 2011


Claudia Apablaza
Birgit Linder
Geraldine Maxwell
María Claudia Otsubo
Zosimo Quibilan, Jr
Shruti Rao
Ian C. Smith
José-Flore Tappy
John Taylor
Tim Tomlinson
Joost Vandecasteele
Jan van Mersbergen
Laura Watkinson
Joe Wiinikka-Lydon

Issue 15 Guest Artist:
Alexis Hunter

President: Peter Robertson
Vice-President: Sari Nusseibeh
Deputy Editor: Neil Langdon Inglis
Advisory Consultant: Jill Dawson
General Editor: Beatriz Hausner
Art Editor: Calum Colvin
Deputy General Editor: Jeff Barry

Consulting Editors
Marjorie Agosín
Daniel Albright
Meena Alexander
Maria Teresa Andruetto
Frank Ankersmit
Rosemary Ashton
Reza Aslan
Leonard Barkan
Michael Barry
Shadi Bartsch
Thomas Bartscherer
Susan Bassnett
Gillian Beer
David Bellos
Richard Berengarten
Charles Bernstein
Sujata Bhatt
Mario Biagioli
Jean Boase-Beier
Elleke Boehmer
Eavan Boland
Stephen Booth
Alain de Botton
Carmen Boullossa
Rachel Bowlby
Svetlana Boym
Peter Brooks
Marina Brownlee
Roberto Brodsky
Carmen Bugan
Jenni Calder
Stanley Cavell
Sampurna Chattarji
Sarah Churchwell
Hollis Clayson
Sally Cline
Kristina Cordero
Drucilla Cornell
Junot Díaz
André Dombrowski
Denis Donoghue
Ariel Dorfman
Rita Dove
Denise Duhamel
Klaus Ebner
Robert Elsie
Stefano Evangelista
Orlando Figes
Tibor Fischer
Shelley Fisher Fishkin
Peter France
Nancy Fraser
Maureen Freely
Michael Fried
Marjorie Garber
Anne Garréta
Marilyn Gaull
Zulfikar Ghose
Paul Giles
Lydia Goehr
Vasco Graça Moura
A. C. Grayling
Stephen Greenblatt
Lavinia Greenlaw
Lawrence Grossberg
Edith Grossman
Elizabeth Grosz
Boris Groys
David Harsent
Benjamin Harshav
Geoffrey Hartman
François Hartog
Siobhan Harvey
Molly Haskell
Selina Hastings
Valerie Henitiuk
Kathryn Hughes
Aamer Hussein
Djelal Kadir
Kapka Kassabova
John Kelly
Martin Kern
Mimi Khalvati
Joseph Koerner
Annette Kolodny
Julia Kristeva
George Landow
Chang-Rae Lee
Mabel Lee
Linda Leith
Suzanne Jill Levine
Lydia Liu
Margot Livesey
Julia Lovell
Laurie Maguire
Willy Maley
Alberto Manguel
Ben Marcus
Paul Mariani
Marina Mayoral
Richard McCabe
Campbell McGrath
Jamie McKendrick
Edie Meidav
Jack Miles
Toril Moi
Susana Moore
Laura Mulvey
Azar Nafisi
Paschalis Nikolaou
Martha Nussbaum
Sari Nusseibeh
Tim Parks
Molly Peacock
Pascale Petit
Clare Pettitt
Caryl Phillips
Robert Pinsky
Elena Poniatowska
Elizabeth Powers
Elizabeth Prettejohn
Martin Puchner
Kate Pullinger
Paula Rabinowitz
Rajeswari Sunder Rajan
James Richardson
François Rigolot
Geoffrey Robertson
Ritchie Robertson
Avital Ronell
Élisabeth Roudinesco
Carla Sassi
Michael Scammell
Celeste Schenck
Sudeep Sen
Hadaa Sendoo
Miranda Seymour
Mimi Sheller
Elaine Showalter
Penelope Shuttle
Werner Sollors
Frances Spalding
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
Julian Stallabrass
Susan Stewart
Rebecca Stott
Mark Strand
Kathryn Sutherland
Rebecca Swift
Susan Tiberghien
John Whittier Treat
David Treuer
David Trinidad
Marjorie Trusted
Lidia Vianu
Victor Vitanza
Marina Warner
David Wellbery
Edwin Williamson
Michael Wood
Theodore Zeldin

Assistant Editor: Sara Besserman
Assistant Editor: Ana de Biase
Assistant Editor: Conor Bracken
Assistant Editor: Eugenio Conchez
Assistant Editor: Patricia Delmar
Assistant Editor: Sophie Lewis
Assistant Editor: Krista Oehlke
Assistant Editor: Siska Rappé
Assistant Editor: Stephanie Smith
Assistant Editor: Robert Toperter
Art Consultant: Verónica Barbatano
Art Consultant: Angie Roytgolz

Click to enlarge picture Click to enlarge picture. Excerpt from Tomorrow Pamplona by Jan van Mersbergen, translated from the Dutch by Laura Watkinson  

Original title: Morgen zijn we in Pamplona.
Tomorrow Pamplona will be published by Peirene Press in June 2011.

A boxer is running through the city. He heads down a street with tall buildings on either side, darts between parked cars, runs diagonally across a junction, down a bike path, crosses a bridge and follows the curve of the tram tracks. Anyone passing would think he was in training. But he’s running faster than usual. His breathing is out of control. His eyes are wide.

His boxing boots fly silently over the pavement. Fragments of sentences echo around his head, accompanied by the ringing of a bell. Disconnected words thud against his eardrums, buzzing sounds, distorted, far away. Then suddenly they become clear.


He lands a punch.

Stop that!

He lands another punch. Again he hears a bell, sharper and louder than before. Stop, someone screams. He feels a hand on his shoulder, fends it off with a jab of his elbow. He throws a left hook, hits the man square in the face and turns back to his opponent.

Stop that! he hears again. He lands another punch, and another, and another.

He crosses a busy main road and runs into a park. He comes to a patch of grass with a bronze statue in the centre, a woman holding a child in the air as though she wants to entrust it to the clouds.

The boxer slows, panting, and looks at the statue. He sits down on a bench. The bushes and trees stand motionless between him and the street with the tramlines. Dark grey clouds slide past behind the trees. There are no birds, not even pigeons.

He feels fine drops of rain on his face. The leaves on the trees move gently in the breeze. A man in a denim jacket is standing on the other side of the park, beneath the awning of the cigar shop on the corner. He’s looking in the boxer’s direction. Another man comes out of the shop, lights a cigarette, and says something to the man in the denim jacket, who replies without taking his eyes off the boxer. The smoke dissolves in the air. The boxer looks down at his legs and at the wood of the bench, as it slowly darkens in the rain.

He hears footsteps. For a moment, he seems resigned to his fate. He waits for a deep voice to say something, to speak his name, to pin him to the bench. When it comes, the tone isn’t what he expected: Hey, you’re Danny Clare, aren’t you?

The man walks over and stands in front of him, turns up the collar of his denim jacket. The other man stops behind his friend, off to one side. With no expression on his face, the boxer looks at the two men.

You are him though, aren’t you? The boxer?

Danny gets up.

We saw you, says the man in the denim jacket. He tugs at his collar again, trying to shield his neck from the rain.

Against that big blond guy, it was. The Hungarian.

The other man corrects him: Bulgarian.

Danny doesn’t react. He just clasps his hands.

Good fight, that was.

The cigarette falls to the wet gravel and the man crushes it with his foot. The two men smile at the boxer. The man in the denim jacket says something else, but his voice fades away and Danny looks down at the cigarette butt, which is still smouldering, and then at his feet. Now he can hear words from his conversation with Pavel, at the boxing school. And there’s that click in his head again, when it all fell into place, and the click that came afterwards when everything around him imploded and went black.

I don’t know what you’re talking about, he says. He runs to the park exit, leaving the men and the statue behind. He goes through the gate, crosses the tramlines and races along the brick wall and around the corner. Finally, he reaches a busy dual carriageway, with an endless stream of cars flowing out of the city. That’s the road he wants. The rain sweeps against his face. He runs past a supermarket and sees a black kid pushing a line of shopping trolleys inside. He passes beneath a viaduct with drops of rainwater clinging to its solid metal girders. Reflections of the posters on the walls ripple dimly in the puddles. He stops in the shelter of a tree by a big roundabout. On his right, a railway line hangs high above the street. He sees the station just beyond the roundabout. A long train is pulling in, its wheels screeching. The boxer puts his hands in his pockets. His keys, his loose change, his mobile – it’s all still in the changing room at the boxing school.

The traffic spins around the roundabout and fans out along the roads leading to and from the city. He takes the road to the motorway. He crosses over, walks through the long grass in the centre of the roundabout, waits for a gap in the traffic, crosses again, stands by the roadside and raises his thumb. A car soon stops for him. There’s an old man at the wheel. I can take you a few kilometres down the motorway, he says.

The boxer nods and gets in.

I’ll drop you off at the petrol station. You’ll be able to get another ride from there, no problem.

The man accelerates gently, navigates a few bends and heads onto the motorway. Opera plays on the radio. The voice pierces through the noise of the engine. When Danny looks at the radio, the man turns the knob and the music becomes louder. The voice grates on his nerves. They sit in silence for a few minutes. Then the man takes the exit for the petrol station. When they reach the pumps, Danny thanks him and steps out of the car into the smell of petrol.

You’re welcome, says the man.

Danny slams the car door.