Welcome to our mythology edition! Catch our video trailer here. From the “kiss of death” Danish textbook representative Erik Langkjær shared with Flannery O’Connor-in an exclusive account sixty years after the fact-to the “synthetic saint” in Tedi López Mills‘ experimental poetry and the “divine fairy tale” in Shi Tiesheng‘s memoir of disability, modern myth permeates this issue, knocking elbows with characters from old-world mythology.
You’ll find an aging Minotaur transplanted to Amsterdam’s red-light district, Hamlet’s Norse ancestor reincarnated in operatic form, and biblical vine-growers at a corporate event schmoozing up to their ultimate shareholder, God. What’s more, many of this issue’s writers and poets are themselves legendary figures: Mohammed Said Abdulla and Ch’oe In-ho blazed a trail for fiction in Tanzania and South Korea respectively, whereas Ukraine’s Serhiy Zhadan and Bengal’s Joy Goswami belong to that rare breed: poet superstars.

In our annual English poetry feature, poets take up myth, not simply as lie or cultural truth, but as the literary process by which certain narratives and images become naturalized, privileged, contested, and abandoned: Mary Jo Bang dramatizes a mythologization of the self in an atmosphere of surveillance; Michael Farrell recontextualizes Australian icons into what might be “socially involved and meaningful / role(s)”; and Zhou Sivan employs Greek, Chinese, and Catalan myths to question nationhood and reproductive love. Among our translated poets, the Japanese futurist Hirato Renkichi studies the “line between the past and present and future, in ecstasy;” Euphrase Kezilahabi‘s poet-figure enters “this forest / full of a century’s darkness,” emerging as the modern Swahili writer he is today; while Galician writer María do Cebreiro depicts a fragmented lover’s discourse.

A central motif in myth, transformation recurs in many of this issue’s stories (as well as in Brazilian artist Odires Mlászho’s “Altered Books“). In “News of a Girl Lost at Sea,” an ignorant peasant woman is transformed into a saint for muttering the same nonsensical line every night (because, it turns out, “God doesn’t care about the quality of the prayers themselves, just about the will behind them”). In J. Rodolfo Wilcock‘s “Aram Kugiungian,” transformation-and an extreme case of identity crisis-occur when our twenty-three-year-old protagonist suddenly realizes “he was also someone else or, indeed, several others.” In the excerpt from Ch’oe’s Another Man’s Story, set in a mysterious café, an ex-brother-in-law suddenly reappears before the protagonist-as a woman. More familial drama-with exes and in-laws-unfolds over a game of Monopoly in Ulrike Syha’s tightly drawn “Do Not Pass Go.” With vivid colors and expressive strokes, Monika Grubizna, our talented guest artist, captures these and our new issue’s many other moments of Sturm und Drang.
With our fourth anniversary just around the corner, we’re pleased to unveil a slew of events-in addition to our stops in Beijing on October 20 and in Hong Kong on November 6, appearances in fifteen more cities worldwide are being planned for our celebrations between January and April 2015. (Keep your eye on our Events page or follow us on Facebook and Twitter for breaking Asymptote news!) For our special feature in April 2015, we will be traveling fifty years back in time to explore the Vietnam War and its legacy. As you check out this feature’s submission guidelines, don’t forget that we also welcome submissions for our blog, which recently celebrated its first anniversary with the launch of a “New in Translation” column, reviewing the latest titles each month.
Finally, if you’re excited by all that we’ve done and will do to stimulate the transmission of world literature, we want you to know that there are ways in which you can help. Consider a donation (we’re newly tax-deductible in the US!) or a video endorsement for our upcoming Indiegogo campaign. Or just spread the word by downloading our high-resolution Fall issue flyer and getting it displayed at your local independent bookstore/school/café. After all, myths-and the best literary projects-continue only as long as people keep sharing them.

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