Category Archives: Guernica Magazine

Interviewing Etgar Keret

imagesHe’s Israel’s top writer, a man whose work I adore—and I got to spend two hours with him for Guernica

In America, where writers are preoccupied with the craft of writing, I always try to introduce this concept of the badly written good story. Turning the hierarchy around and putting passion on top and not craft, because when you just focus on craft, you can write something that is very sterile. It looks beautiful, but soulless.

 

Essay on Emanuel A.M.E. Church and the Charleston Shooting

2928014507_1c7c581bbe_zI lived in Charleston, SC from when I was around 11 to 20 years old. I went to a private, all-white elementary school right next door to “Mother Emanuel,” Emanuel A.M.E. church. I wrote an essay about the #CharlestonShooting — and about a stupid childhood prank I played on that church.

And how kind they were to me.

The essay contains some paragraphs like this, too:

Both sides in this race war (and it is a war, the longest in American history) have been fighting for generations. White people are in denial of it, perhaps because it’s too hard for us to see it. And when we we’re told about, we wish it would just go away. We find it a boring topic because our privilege allows us to be bored by it. It’s our privilege to be bored. And yes, it bores me. It’s boring because people like me swim in privilege, like a fish swims in water. Often, I only see the hard work that got me where I am, not the extra boost I got along the way because I am white.

 

 

The People’s Pervert: John Waters

Waters-John-c-Greg-Gorman-CARSICK_TOPI interviewed John Waters for Guernica.

Now at sixty-nine (“an embarrassing age,” he said at a recent appearance in New York City, “I don’t even like the sex position”), John Waters seems to have a career on the upswing: he’s in development for a TV series, and he has a bestselling memoir, Carsick, the story of how he hitchhiked across America in 2012. His traveling stand-up show, This Filthy World, packs the houses on a regular basis.

 

Guernica at AWP

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Going to AWP, the massive conference for writers? I’ll be there with Guernica at Table P12, Plaza Level Exhibition Hall B.

How AWP describes itself:

Each year, AWP holds its Annual Conference & Bookfair in a different city to celebrate the authors, teachers, writing programs, literary centers, and independent publishers of that region. The conference typically features 550 readings, lectures, panel discussions, and forums, as well as hundreds of book signings, receptions, dances, and informal gatherings. More than 10,000 writers and readers attended our 2012 conference, and 600 exhibitors were represented at our bookfair. AWP’s is now the largest literary conference in North America. We hope you’ll join us in 2013.

More on AWP here . . .

Look for the Guernica banner, hopefully towering over all. It’s our logo:

guernicalogo

“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.

Book Party for E.C. Osondu’s Voice of America in NYC

Where
The Gallery Bar, 120 Orchard St, New York, NY

When
Tuesday, November 2, 7–9 p.m.

E.C. Osondu
I picked his story, “Waiting” out of the slush pile. It went on to win the 2009 Caine Prize, Africa’s leading literary prize. (It beat out the Paris Review for the award.) The Chair of Judges, New Statesman Chief Sub-Editor Nana Yaa Mensah called it “a tour de force, powerfully written with not an ounce of fat on it—and deeply moving.”

You’re invited. It’s Free.

Jonathan Franzen and Mary Gaitskill on Osondu
“E.C. Osondu is a man with a clear head and a great ear, writing from crucial places.”—Jonathan Franzen, author of Freedom and The Corrections.

“With observant wonder and subtle humor, [Osondu] portrays…our unique capacity for hope and hopelessness rolled together.” —Mary Gaitskill, author of Bad Behavior and Veronica

My PR Quote on the party
Guernica is proud to have been a vital part of E.C. Osondu’s career—after all, that’s why our editors work on the magazine. We want to showcase the unexpected, whether its fiction, poetry, or hard-hitting nonfiction. But also, we love to host a variety of cultural events, from Pen World Voices to our get-together salons. This book party for E.C. promises to be one of our best.”

Browse inside his book, here.

Electric Literature on Guernica’s 6th Anniversary Party

Literary magazine of the moment, Electric Literature, writes about Guernica‘s 6th anniversary party.

It says someone stole the cheese. I know what happened: the intern stole (and then also drank) a lot of wine. She then passed the cheese around at the after party bar. It’s all a part of her payment plan–King Missile said it best as few years ago: