The International Literary Quarterly
Contributors

Shanta Acharya
Marjorie Agosín
Donald Adamson
Diran Adebayo
Nausheen Ahmad
Toheed Ahmad
Amanda Aizpuriete
Baba Akote
Elisa Albo
Daniel Albright
Meena Alexander
Rosetta Allan
María Teresa Andruetto
Innokenty Annensky
Claudia Apablaza
Robert Appelbaum
Michael Arditti
Jenny Argante
Sandra Arnold
C.J.K. Arkell
Agnar Artúvertin
Sarah Arvio
Rosemary Ashton
Mammed Aslan
Coral Atkinson
Rose Ausländer
Shushan Avagyan
Razif Bahari
Elizabeth Baines
Jo Baker
Ismail Bala
Evgeny Baratynsky
Saule Abdrakhman-kyzy Batay
Konstantin Nikolaevich Batyushkov
William Bedford
Gillian Beer
Richard Berengarten
Charles Bernstein
Ilya Bernstein
Mashey Bernstein
Christopher Betts
Sujata Bhatt
Sven Birkerts
Linda Black
Chana Bloch
Amy Bloom
Mary Blum Devor
Michael Blumenthal
Jean Boase-Beier
Jorge Luis Borges
Alison Brackenbury
Julia Brannigan
Theo Breuer
Iain Britton
Françoise Brodsky
Amy Brown
Bernard Brown
Diane Brown
Gay Buckingham
Carmen Bugan
Stephen Burt
Zarah Butcher McGunnigle
James Byrne
Kevin Cadwallander
Howard Camner
Mary Caponegro
Marisa Cappetta
Helena Cardoso
Adrian Castro
Luis Cernuda
Firat Cewerî
Pierre Chappuis
Neil Charleton
Janet Charman
Sampurna Chattarji
Amit Chaudhuri
Mèlissa Chiasson
Ronald Christ
Alex Cigale
Sally Cline
Marcelo Cohen
Lila Cona
Eugenio Conchez
Andrew Cowan
Mary Creswell
Christine Crow
Pedro Xavier Solís Cuadra
Majella Cullinane
P. Scott Cunningham
Emma Currie
Jeni Curtis
Stephen Cushman
David Dabydeen
Susan Daitch
Rubén Dario
Jean de la Fontaine
Denys Johnson Davies
Lydia Davis
Robert Davreu
David Dawnay
Jill Dawson
Rosalía de Castro
Joanne Rocky Delaplaine
Patricia Delmar
Christine De Luca
Tumusiime Kabwende Deo
Paul Scott Derrick
Josephine Dickinson
Belinda Diepenheim
Jenny Diski
Rita Dove
Arkadii Dragomoschenko
Paulette Dubé
Denise Duhamel
Jonathan Dunne
S. B. Easwaran
Jorge Edwards
David Eggleton
Mohamed El-Bisatie
Tsvetanka Elenkova
Johanna Emeney
Osama Esber
Fiona Farrell
Ernest Farrés
Elaine Feinstein
Gigi Fenster
Micah Timona Ferris
Vasil Filipov
Maria Filippakopoulou
Ruth Fogelman
Peter France
Alexandra Fraser
Bashabi Fraser
Janis Freegard
Robin Fry
Alice Fulton
Ulrich Gabriel
Manana Gelashvili
Laurice Gilbert
Paul Giles
Zulfikar Ghose
Corey Ginsberg
Chrissie Gittins
Sarah Glazer
Michael Glover
George Gömöri
Giles Goodland
Martin Goodman
Roberta Gordenstein
Mina Gorji
Maria Grech Ganado
David Gregory
Philip Gross
Carla Guelfenbein
Daniel Gunn
Charles Hadfield
Haidar Haidar
Ruth Halkon
Tomás Harris
Geoffrey Hartman
Siobhan Harvey
Beatriz Hausner
John Haynes
Jennifer Hearn
Helen Heath
Geoffrey Heptonstall
Felisberto Hernández
W.N. Herbert
William Hershaw
Michael Hettich
Allen Hibbard
Hassan Hilmi
Rhisiart Hincks
Kerry Hines
Amanda Hopkinson
Adam Horovitz
David Howard
Sue Hubbard
Aamer Hussein
Fahmida Hussain
Alexander Hutchison
Sabine Huynh
Juan Kruz Igerabide Sarasola
Neil Langdon Inglis
Jouni Inkala
Ofonime Inyang
Kevin Ireland
Michael Ives
Philippe Jacottet
Robert Alan Jamieson
Rebecca Jany
Andrea Jeftanovic
Ana Jelnikar
Miroslav Jindra
Stephanie Johnson
Bret Anthony Johnston
Marion Jones
Tim Jones
Gabriel Josipovici
Pierre-Albert Jourdan
Sophie Judah
Tomoko Kanda
Maarja Kangro
Jana Kantorová-Báliková
Fawzi Karim
Kapka Kassabova
Susan Kelly-DeWitt
Mimi Khalvati
Daniil Kharms
Velimir Khlebnikov
Akhmad hoji Khorazmiy
David Kinloch
John Kinsella
Yudit Kiss
Tomislav Kuzmanović
Andrea Labinger
Charles Lambert
Christopher Lane
Jan Lauwereyns
Fernando Lavandeira
Graeme Lay
Ilias Layios
Hiên-Minh Lê
Mikhail Lermontov
Miriam Levine
Suzanne Jill Levine
Micaela Lewitt
Zhimin Li
Joanne Limburg
Birgit Linder
Pippa Little
Parvin Loloi
Christopher Louvet
Helen Lowe
Ana Lucic
Aonghas MacNeacail
Kona Macphee
Kate Mahony
Sara Maitland
Channah Magori
Vasyl Makhno
Marcelo Maturana Montañez
Stephanie Mayne
Ben Mazer
Harvey Molloy
Osip Mandelstam
Alberto Manguel
Olga Markelova
Laura Marney
Geraldine Maxwell
John McAuliffe
Peter McCarey
John McCullough
Richard McKane
John MacKinven
Cilla McQueen
Edie Meidav
Ernst Meister
Lina Meruane
Jesse Millner
Deborah Moggach
Mawatle J. Mojalefa
Jonathan Morley
César Moro
Helen Mort
Laura Moser
Andrew Motion
Paola Musa
Robin Myers
André Naffis-Sahely
Vivek Narayanan
Bob Natifu
María Negroni
Hernán Neira
Barbra Nightingale
Paschalis Nikolaou
James Norcliffe
Carol Novack
Annakuly Nurmammedov
Joyce Carol Oates
Sunday Enessi Ododo
Obododimma Oha
Michael O'Leary
Antonio Diaz Oliva
Wilson Orhiunu
Maris O'Rourke
Sue Orr
Wendy O'Shea-Meddour
María Claudia Otsubo
Ruth Padel
Ron Padgett
Thalia Pandiri
Judith Dell Panny
Hom Paribag
Lawrence Patchett
Ian Patterson
Georges Perros
Pascale Petit
Aleksandar Petrov
Mario Petrucci
Geoffrey Philp
Toni Piccini
Henning Pieterse
Robert Pinsky
Mark Pirie
David Plante
Nicolás Poblete
Sara Poisson
Clare Pollard
Mori Ponsowy
Wena Poon
Orest Popovych
Jem Poster
Begonya Pozo
Pauline Prior-Pitt
Eugenia Prado Bassi
Ian Probstein
Sheenagh Pugh
Kate Pullinger
Zosimo Quibilan, Jr
Vera V. Radojević
Margaret Ranger
Tessa Ransford
Shruti Rao
Irina Ratushinskaya
Tanyo Ravicz
Richard Reeve
Sue Reidy
Joan Retallack
Laura Richardson
Harry Ricketts
Ron Riddell
Cynthia Rimsky
Loreto Riveiro Alvarez
James Robertson
Peter Robertson
Gonzalo Rojas
Dilys Rose
Gabriel Rosenstock
Jack Ross
Anthony Rudolf
Basant Rungta
Joseph Ryan
Sean Rys
Jostein Sæbøe
André Naffis Sahely
Eurig Salisbury
Fiona Sampson
Polly Samson
Priya Sarukkai Chabria
Maree Scarlett
John Schad
Michael Schmidt
L.E. Scott
Maureen Seaton
Alexis Sellas
Hadaa Sendoo
Chris Serio
Resul Shabani
Bina Shah
Yasir Shah
Daniel Shapiro
Ruth Sharman
Tina Shaw
David Shields
Ana María Shua
Christine Simon
Iain Sinclair
Katri Skala
Carole Smith
Ian C. Smith
Elizabeth Smither
John Stauffer
Jim Stewart
Susan Stewart
Jesper Svenbro
Virgil Suárez
Lars-Håkan Svensson
Sridala Swami
Rebecca Swift
George Szirtes
Chee-Lay Tan
Tugrul Tanyol
José-Flore Tappy
Alejandro Tarrab
Campbell Taylor
John Taylor
Judith Taylor
Petar Tchouhov
Miguel Teruel
John Thieme
Karen Thornber
Tim Tomlinson
Angela Topping
David Trinidad
Kola Tubosun
Nick Vagnoni
Joost Vandecasteele
Jan van Mersbergen
Latika Vasil
Yassen Vassilev
Lawrence Venuti
Lidia Vianu
Dev Virahsawmy
Anthony Vivis
Richard Von Sturmer
Răzvan Voncu
Nasos Vayenas
Mauricio Wacquez
Julie Marie Wade
Alan Wall
Marina Warner
Mia Watkins
Peter Wells
Stanley Wells
Laura Watkinson
Joe Wiinikka-Lydon
Hayden Williams
Edwin Williamson
Ronald V. Wilson
Stephen Wilson
Alison Wong
Leslie Woodard
Elzbieta Wójcik-Leese
Niel Wright
Manolis Xexakis
Xu Xi
Gao Xingjian
Sonja Yelich
Tamar Yoseloff
Augustus Young
Soltobay Zaripbekov
Karen Zelas
Alan Ziegler
Ariel Zinder

 

President, Publisher & Founding Editor:
Peter Robertson
Vice-President: Glenna Luschei
Vice-President: Sari Nusseibeh
Vice-President: Elena Poniatowska
U. S. General Editor: Neil Langdon Inglis
London Editor/Senior Editor-at-Large: Geraldine Maxwell
New York Editor/Senior Editor-at-Large: Meena Alexander
Washington D.C. Editor/Senior
Editor-at-Large:
Laura Moser
Argentine Editor: Yamila Musa
Deputy Editor: Allen Hibbard
Deputy Editor: Jerónimo Mohar Volkow
Deputy Editor: Bina Shah
Advisory Consultant: Jill Dawson
General Editor: Beatriz Hausner
General Editor: Malvina Segui
Art Editor: Lara Alcantara-Lansberg
Art Editor: Calum Colvin
Deputy General Editor: Jeff Barry

Consulting Editors
Shanta Acharya
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
Hollis Clayson
Sarah Churchwell
Marcelo Cohen
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
Molly Haskell
Selina Hastings
Beatriz Hausner
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
Thomas Luschei
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
Martha Nussbaum
Tim Parks
Clare Pettitt
Caryl Phillips
Robert Pinsky
Elizabeth Powers
Elizabeth Prettejohn
Martin Puchner
Kate Pullinger
Paula Rabinowitz
Rajeswari Sunder Rajan
James Richardson
François Rigolot
Geoffrey Robertson
Ritchie Robertson
Avital Ronell
Carla Sassi
Michael Scammell
Celeste Schenck
Daniel Shapiro
Sudeep Sen
Hadaa Sendoo
Miranda Seymour
Daniel Shapiro
Mimi Sheller
Elaine Showalter
Penelope Shuttle
Werner Sollors
Frances Spalding
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
Julian Stallabrass
Susan Stewart
Rebecca Stott
Mark Strand
Kathryn Sutherland
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: Lucila Gallino
Assistant Editor: Sophie Lewis
Assistant Editor: Krista Oehlke
Assistant Editor: Siska Rappé
Assistant Editor: Naomi Schub
Assistant Editor: Stephanie Smith
Assistant Editor: Emily Snyder
Assistant Editor: Robert Toperter
Assistant Editor: Laurence Webb
Art Consultant: Verónica Barbatano
Art Consultant: Angie Roytgolz

 

Gustavo Bossert
The Power of Prose:
HOTEL
By: Gustavo Bossert
Translated from the Spanish into the English by Peter Robertson
 

 

Peter Robertson writes:

After the publication of his novel Acoso Sexual (“Sexual Harassment”) in 2006, the Argentine author, Gustavo Bossert (Rosario, May 28, 1938) disappeared from the literary scene. An eminent jurist, who was a member of Argentina’s Supreme Court from 1994 to 2002, the year that he was to resign from that institution, Bossert engaged in a parallel literary career, his debut work being Cuando mi voz estuvo en la silla del Emperador (“When My Voice was in the Emperor’s Throne”), published in 1979, when he was forty-one. Bossert was subsequently to publish not only further collections of short stories, including Completaremos la familia (“We Will Make Up the Family”) (1981) and Cerrar los ojos (“Close Your Eyes”) (1985), but highly-regarded novels such as El Atropello (“The Outrage”) (1995) and Los sirvientes (“The Servants”) (2001), the latter being translated successfully into French by André Gabastou as Les domestiques (2002).

One late Buenos Aires morning in the Argentine winter of August 2017, at the suggestion of a mutual acquaintance, I made my way to Bossert’s elegant apartment near Plaza San Martin, to meet the erstwhile eminent judge. During the course of a congenial and wide-ranging conversation, I happened to mention my New York-based literary review (Interlitq), also relaying the news that a few months before, I had returned to my own output, having recently published translations of the Uruguayan writer, Horacio Quiroga and the Venezuelan writer, José Antonio Ramos Sucre. The disclosure of such a resurgence proved to be the cue for Bossert’s revelation-serendipitous, to say the least-that he was not only a legal scholar who had penned tomes on subjects including child adoption and concubinage, but had over the years amassed a significant literary production of his own. Escorting me, with his customary camaraderie, to the bookshelves that lined one end of his drawing-room, he pointed to an array of his literary texts and, taking down a copy of Cerrar los ojos, gifted me a signed copy.

Intrigued by my encounter with Bossert, and once back in my Palermo flat, I wasted no time in looking over this early collection, and in the course of the next few days completed the translation of “HOTEL”, one of the several stories therein that convey Bossert’s brand of suspense, woven with teasing dexterity.

Eighty years old in late May 2018, and adamant that he will never again write another novel, Bossert is, nonetheless, in possession of a considerable body of shorter fiction, still unpublished in Spanish, and that he is in the process of editing. At this late stage, it is certainly to be hoped that his oeuvre, no example of which has until now been published in English, will begin to make its presence felt in cultures far removed from the confines of the room where I first had the pleasure of meeting Gustavo Bossert.


HOTEL

By Gustavo Bossert

Translated from the Spanish by Peter Robertson

When a row of trees started to swish against the car, and denser foliage knocked against the bumper and number plate, she sensed that she had lost her way. She had taken the wrong road, what with the darkness and the rain, and was driving down one of the paths that, crisscrossing the landscape, would surely lead to some country dwelling. Any doubt that she was heading towards a hinterland was dispelled by the presence of high-domed anthills, some towering above her.

“My soul for a bed,” she exclaimed, assuring herself that the best way to keep her spirits high was to engage in a stream of playful wishfulness. “Nothing less than my soul,” and it was as if her words had somehow conjured up the glow before her, not quite dissipated by the drizzle, and that could hardly have been emitted by her headlamps. “It must be the Hilton,” she quipped, but her self-directed banter belied her fear that it might all be a mirage.

At first diffuse, the brightness could now be defined as the pool of light cast by a lantern and that illuminated, and no doubt so that it could be visible from the road, a post that swayed in the wind. Reasoning with herself that, were it not for the deluge, the word HOTEL would be bodied forth through the dimness, she was flooded with relief. From her car seat, she could make out, albeit smeared by the rain, the hotel’s frontage and the indelible stain of the entrance.

Without any qualms about leaving her car on the road, she jumped straight out. So that her abrupt arrival would not startle anyone, she exclaimed, as she entered the hotel, that she was soaked right through. After hazarding a tentative "hello", she enquired in a more insistent voice if anyone was around. But no one came to welcome her. Not only the murkiness, but also the dampness of the unpeopled room, which appeared to be a lobby, unsettled her.

She took down the lantern which, as she walked, cast light into each gloomy corner. The walls had a funereal aspect, as if they had been painted black, but this would be no more than an impression caused by the lantern’s guttering flame. She could see just enough to perceive that the room was unadorned with a single piece of furniture. Fumbling, she was unable to find a light switch.

She thought that she might well be alone in the hotel and, at least while the storm raged outside, clogging the roads with rank vegetation, considered it unlikely that any other wayfarer would carve out a route to descend on the building. On reflection, she reckoned it was fitting to stand on ceremony, as she did invariably when in the city, waiting for a member of staff to attend to her needs rather than taking it upon herself to go from room to room, looking for a bed.

She was perturbed by the pungency of damp earth that assailed her from all sides, and vexed by the ants that, climbing up from her shoes, made her slap her legs repeatedly, in vain attempts to dislodge them. There could be little doubt that not only the ants, but also the whiff of astringency, intruded from the open door abutting the forest. And so she decided to set her scruples to one side and, dispensing with any kind of assistance, look for a bedroom, if possible hermetically sealed, for the night.

She could not make heads or tails of the passageway that led towards the inmost recesses of the hotel: how it gyrated, and then plunged down, before plummeting ever deeper. The walls, far from being level, bulged out, as if they enclosed rooms that were also bulbous. It was all too baroque, she thought. And yet, for all her misgivings, she had the presence of mind to cling to an awareness that no matter how bloated the walls, guests would be sleeping soundly within them. As she walked, she was overcome by the all-too-familiar mustiness that she had first detected in the lobby.

She counted herself lucky that the lantern, its gleam now moribund, threw off a few last flickerings to reveal, on one side of the passageway, the aperture of an open door, behind which she would surely find, closing her eyes tight to avert disappointment, the longed-for empty bedroom.

As she moved forward, the lantern’s last glint fell on a heap of straw. With a growing sense of unease, she ran her hands through the stalks of threshed grain. Finding them clean and dry, she reckoned that they would serve as a mattress for one night.

In this outback, a far cry from urban comfort, it was no doubt the custom to sleep on straw. It was clear, in any case, that she had mistaken a shack for a hotel. Laughing at herself, she made light of her delusion. And what did it matter? She had been on the road for so many years, digging deep into reserves of self-reliance, to be undone by an improvised mattress in an abandoned abode. In any case, she needed to sleep, as she had to head to the city early the next morning. Fully clothed, she lay down on the straw.

Putting into order, in her mind, the interviews that she would give the following day, she could not help but count her luck—a room to shelter from the rain, a bed that was invitingly soft. Such thoughts made her almost oblivious to the dankness that reawakened long-standing pains at the base of her spine and the acrid exhalation of grass which, cut and heaped and deprived of air, had fermented. To console herself further, she dwelt on the sight and sound of familiar faces and voices. With the silence acting as a soporific, she fell fast asleep.

Minute black insects, in their thousands, climbed down her shoulders, covering her arms. Others, approaching crosswise, came to rest on her legs, while further legions encroached on her armpits and where her blouse lay open.

When, perching on spindly legs, the insects thrust into her flesh to seek the globules of fat they would store in their cells for winter, a searing pain awoke her. As she tried in vain to shriek, a viscous mass of black bodies tumbled into her mouth’s crevasse.

She could not bring herself to touch her arms and legs, as if engulfed by flames. Through the darkness, she rolled over the earth floor, looking for any way out.

The anthill’s inner wall hemmed her in.



Read Peter Robertson's translation of Gustavo Bossert's story, "The Altar"

The Power of Prose