Category Archives: Fiction Editor

“Because Arab American fiction IS American literature”

I’d wanted to put together an Arab American fiction section for several years.

Years.

The section remained a no-go for some reason though, but maybe it was for the best: Randa Jarrar, who guest-edited the section, did an amazing job for Guernica.

I’d published Randa about year at Guernica. I remember thinking that her writing was  evocative of Arab American culture—yet also very American (if such facile labels can be given; such labels are annoying, I know).

Read her opening essay on Arab American writing and read how, as she says, “Arab American fiction is American literature.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Look for work from these authors in the section:

The Oracle, by Diana Abu-Jaber

East Beirut, 1978, by Patricia Sarrafian Ward

The Bastard of Salinas, by Laila Halaby

Secret Boyfriend, by Youmna Chlala

Girls on Ice, by Alia Yunis

Caine Prize Winner Olufemi Terry on Guernica

Olufemi Terry, whose “Stickfighting Days” won the 2010 Caine Prize for African Writing, is in the current issue of Guernica. The story is brilliant, and it shows how if won Africa’s mst prestigious literary prize.

But it’s looong. . . can the Internet support long fiction? I hope so. It has to.

Any suggestions on how to feature long-form fiction? Send me a note if you have an idea. I’m committed to long fiction.

AWP Assessment: I slept in the Best Whorehouse in Minsk

I’ve just gotten back from AWP, held this year in Washington, D.C. AWP is an annual conference, a gathering of writers from every skill level, jumbled together like a rat’s nest in DC’s Marriott and Omni hotels. The beginners and the pros–hundreds of them, clogged the lobbies, on the way to panel discussions and meet-and-greets.

It was tiring, but also valuable: I booked a few writers for upcoming issues of Guernica, and found some magazines that say they’d be interested in my own work. I also had a reunion with many of the my fellow 2007 Bread Loaf waiters.

But now: I’m truly exhausted. Read more about the AWP experience elsewhere, such as on Electric Literature ‘s blog.

My own hotel room was so hilariously awful, that I can’t not comment upon it: high stairs were required to enter the bathroom (it was some 3 feet about the floor for some reason, and jammed against the ceiling.

My room was also raised above the floor (and forced up against the ceiling). Furnishings: brown tones, accented with chrome. The bed was crammed into a tiny alcove.

Overall, the place was like a whorehouse (that is, how I imagine one to be) in Minsk. But is was the best one, I decided, because it was (thankfully) clean, and far away from the madness of AWP.

New Fiction on Guernica: Melissa Ann Chadburn

Guernica‘s fiction intern found this story (she gets the credit, not me, although she says she’d rather remain nameless). I accepted Melissa’s “Loose Morals” for publication, because liked how it was confrontational from the get-go. And how it’s certainly nontraditional.

Sometimes, we (or rather, I) can get caught of in that traditional stuff, wherein there’s an epiphany of some sort at the end of the piece. The epiphanic style is my usual choice for Guernica, but sometimes, you know,  you’ve got to break boundaries (and so on).

Anyway. . . this story will wake you up, right in its first sentence.

New Fiction on Guernica: Michael McGuire

Michael McGuire, who often writes about life on the American border, has one of his best pieces, ever, in Guernica called “Rosa de la Rosas.”

Michael is the author of a short story collection, The Ice Forest (Marlboro Press), named one of the “best books of the year” by Publisher’s Weekly. His stories have appeared in The Paris Review, The Hudson Review, New Directions in Prose & Poetry, and elsewhere.

His plays have been produced by the New York Shakespeare Festival, the Mark Taper Forum of Los Angeles, and at other theatres. They are published by Broadway Play Publishing.

Faulty Plug-ins and Fiction Editing

A faulty plug-in crashed my site and left it a total wreck. It was awful, but all is fine now.

In the intervening period, I’ve been editing a short story collection from a Canadian writer that’s set in the area just north of Detroit.

I’m also preparing for a new job: writing a piece about a Renaissance family that’s far more interesting “family” than New York’s Colombo Crime Family; compared with them, the Five Families look like the Brady Bunch.

I Have a New Short-Short Fiction Piece on Wigleaf

I have a short fiction piece in the latest issue of Wigleaf.

Wigleaf is one of the top journals of super-short fiction (fiction of the very sort that Guernica, by the way, does not usually run). I love Wigleaf—the stuff in there is consistently good.

And I was very well edited, too. They made the story better than it had been.

Lullaby
We lived above an auto repair shop in that part of town where they kept the warehouses and strip joints. Every morning, we awoke to hammering and clanging. When they were painting a car, a fine mist wafted through the bathroom vent and turned our tub, toilet, and sink murky blue.

New Fiction on Guernica: Ethel Rohan

We’re going with two short-short pieces by Ethel Rohan. They’re sort-of, kind-of, about leaving and returning to Ireland. We don’t normally run micro-fiction, but I had to go with it, this time.

Ethel was raised in Ireland and now lives in San Francisco. Her story collection, Cut Through the Bone, will be released from Dark Sky Books this December. A second story collection, Hard to Say, is forthcoming from PANK, in 2011. She blogs at ethelrohan.com.

Reading: Freerange Nonfiction, May 5th

I’ll be reading at the Freerange Nonfiction series this May 5th. I’ll be reading from something new: an essay about a particularly horrible event that happened to me when I was much younger: I interrupted a roommate who’d captured another, tied him down, and threatened to saw his head off with a chainsaw.

I dislike overly dramatic memoirs, so I’m going to try to make the piece about something larger: the nature of nonfiction in general. (But I’ll also try to give you the drama.)

PEN World Voices and Guernica: A recap

Novelist Claire Messud (who was guest-editor at Guernica recently) led a panel discussion on women, diversity, and literature at the 6th annual PEN World Voices Festival of World Literature.  I’ll let another Guernica writer Lorraine Adams sum up the event.

Here’s a film of the event, which was held at WNYC’s Greene Space, in lower Manhattan.

The Caine Prize, E.C., and Me

I wrote about the the recent Caine Prize for African Writing award for the Guernica blog.

Spoiler Alert (not really, one could hardly be a surprised, I’d imagine, by what I wrote): I say that my favorite thing about the award is that the short story was unsolicited.

Read my essay about E.C. winning the Caine Prize for African Writing HERE

Read EC’s Guernica story HERE