A new theory suggests that the similarities shared by many myths means that they have a common origin, passed down across thousands of generations. So, how did our stories really begin? Steve Connor reports: The Independent, UK

In the great mythological narrative of Homer’s Odyssey, the hero lands on the island of Sicily, the home of a race of one-eyed monsters, the Cyclopes. Finding a cave filled with a flock of sheep, the hero and his men feast on one of the animals until they are rudely interrupted by the cave’s furious owner. The Cyclops Polyphemus vents his anger by eating a couple of the intruders before blocking the cave’s entrance with a giant boulder.

Advertisements

Dispatch from Gaza: Day-to-day life continues even in a war zone, but sleep does not: Guernica

GhazaI don’t know how many hours I’ve wasted watching my nineteen month-old girl, Jaffa, sleeping, drifting among the clouds of her dreams; the occasional movement of a limb, the faint smile dancing on her lips. This used to be my favorite moment of the day. But now, looking at children and thinking they could be dead in a minute’s time, they could be transformed into one of those images on the TV, it’s too much to bear. The cruel images from that day when a house in the neighborhood was struck by an F-16 or a drone, or the images that various media outlets have posted online, or those described in vivid detail by a friend who happened to be an eye witness, all these images deny me the pleasure of seeing my kids sleeping peacefully. This used to be one my greatest pleasures.

Indira Chandrasekhar is the Founding Editor of Out of Print magazine that focuses on short fiction. She shares with Kitaab her thoughts on the DNA Out of Print short fiction contest, how it came about and how it works.

IndiraTell us something about your magazine?

 Out of Print is a magazine that focuses on short fiction. We are a quarterly, offering a stringent selection of carefully edited short stories every three months. The stories all bear some connection to the Indian subcontinent.

Tell us about the DNA Out of Print short fiction contest. How did it start?

The contest, like many interesting confluences, came about in a wonderfully serendipitous way. A common interest in literature led to a conversation in writer Sanjay Bahadur’s drawing room between poet and novelist C P Surendran who is Editor-in-Chief of DNA and Indira Chandrasekhar, Founding Editor of Out of Print, which very quickly veered to the seed of what is now the DNA-Out of Print Short Fiction Contest.

Of course, the idea was then developed and detailed, but even the theme and format were fixed in the surge of that initial moment.

The Nigerian Nobel laureate discusses Boko Haram, organised religion, and the current state of his country: Aljazeera

In a time when Nigeria is facing its toughest security crisis in decades, Wole Soyinka discusses the issues surrounding Boko Haram:

“Those who unleashed Boko Haram on the nation are not poverty stricken. They are politicians …. desperate for power, intelligent enough or perceptive enough to recognise that the cocktail of politics and religious fundamentalism can only yield them dividends. They think they have nothing to lose. But the foot soldiers have been indoctrinated for years, from childhood. And they believe that their religion [Islam] is in danger … But Islam is not in danger. It is the pervert followers who are being used and who use others and proclaim that they are fighting for Islam ….

The Bangladeshi-British writer on news versus novels, swapping rural poverty for Wall Street, and “the power of story on the human mind”: Guernica

ZiaThe American physicist Richard P. Feynman once spoke of the “difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.” It’s a distinction that seems important in Zia Haider Rahman’s first novel, In The Light Of What We Know, which spans several decades and flies us between London, New York, Islamabad, and Kabul. Many of the characters have had the chance to get acquainted with Yale University’s motto, “Lux et Veritas.” But few have had the bone-deep experience of poverty and struggle that can lead to a different kind of knowing—an awareness that there are things you can’t be taught in the Ivy League; that there are different lights and different truths depending on matters of simple caprice: “the circumstances of our parents, the home and inheritance, the unearned talents…” Some kinds of knowledge go no deeper than language—are unaccompanied by experience or empathy—and the novel’s most memorable zingers are reserved for “that breed of international development experts unsparing in its love for all humanity but having no interest in people.”

Why is the nation state at all significant for who you are as a writer?: Guernica

I am a New York-Hong Kong writer with a published oeuvre of fiction and nonfiction that addresses issues of the Chinese family and diaspora, cross-cultural and inter-racial experiences (in particular, sexuality, especially transgressive), and contemporary transnational, cosmopolitan and international life. I write what I’ve lived, and still live, to solve what I don’t understand about my sliver of that mortal coil. In forty-plus years of writing and publishing, the pigeonholes that have housed the writer me include Asian, Asian-American, Chinese, Woman, Feminist, of Color, Transnational, International, Cosmopolitan, Hong Kong, New York. The newest slot, one I occupy for its comfortably feathered nest, is “Third Culture.”

In early February, I managed to negotiate my way past barbed wire barricades into a majority Muslim neighborhood in Sittwe: a dry and dusty town that sits next to the Bay of Bengal on Burma’s western coast. Automatic rifles were propped against a small wooden table next to the barricades; one policeman manning the post explained that it was his job to ensure no Muslims left the neighborhood — those who tried would be apprehended and taken back to their homes.

Jeff Kingston bumps into Lee in a subway station and starts a conversation with her: LARB

KrysleeI recently caught up with Krys Lee, author of the acclaimed short story collection Drifting House (2012). Emerging from the Digital Media City (DMC) subway station, I saw a woman reading Roland Barthe’s Image, Music, Text and figured it must be her.

After buying some mangoes (three for about $5) from a truck vendor we fell into conversation walking through the ghost town of DMC, a gleaming complex of office towers, wide boulevards, open plazas, snazzy sculptures, and very few pedestrians. It is only 30 minutes by subway from the teeming streets of central Seoul, but feels like a distant futuristic planet and, shall we say, a bit soulless. Lee points out all the leading media and production companies that jumped on board this government project to establish a thriving media hub, but early on a Friday night, the lights were dim and sidewalks rolled up.