Tag Archives: Guernica

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.


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.


PEN World Voices and an Evening with Guernica: Bravery and Gender in “Confessional Writing”


Guernica is a regular participant in PEN World Voices. This year, we’re conducting a panel on “brave” writing.
Wednesday, May 01, 2013, 7:00pm
Panelists are:

Tickets: $20/$15 PEN/Museum Members and students with a valid ID   | Buy tickets »


Guernica at AWP









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:



We try to have at least 30% unsolicited fiction in Guernica, meaning we get a lot of our fiction stuff from the slush pile.

In fact, we’re about to publish our FOURTH publishing debut this year.

I believe in doing this because my own writing has been published from the slush. And someone once took a chance on me.

And I think many published writers are no better than the unpublished. It’s just that once a writer has been published (and lauded by someone) their fiction is given a great benefit of the doubt. I wrote about all of that that before, here and here.

But the trouble with slush from an editor’s point of view: we don’t know you.

If you have typos in your cover letter or if you don’t follow the submissions guidelines, we don’t trust you. We think you’re not a careful writer—that means you’re not a committed one; you’re an amateur. That means we will bail on you.

More on that at Gabrielle Edits. That means:

1.) Read the guidelines.

2.) Re-read the guidelines.

3.) Follow the guidelines.

4.) Read the magazine to see if you’d fit in. If you don’t—don’t submit your story. Editors remember names. We remember the fools and the rude people most of all.

5.) Don’t assume you know the magazine. (Example: Guernica is NOT looking for political fiction: did you know that? You did if you read the guidelines. And you could have also figured that out, if you actually read the magazine.)

6.) Shorter stories are easier to place than long ones. It’s less of a commitment for an editor. Just a tip.

7.) But if you read the Guernica’s guidelines, you know that we’re not looking for flash fiction (not because we have anything against it—in fact, I write it myself). Flash just isn’t our mission. We publish INTERNATIONAL FICTION.

8.) Pay attention to your cover letter. Don’t be rude. Don’t treat me like I’m your servant. If I’m in a bad mood because of your sloppy, condescending note and your story isn’t the best I’ve ever read, I’ll reject. Why? Because in my slush, there are maybe 50 stories as good as yours. It’s likely that you’re a better writer than I am, sure. But it’s also likely other writers are better than you.

9.) Don’t try to go over my head. Jerks often try that. And jerks are more likely to be rejected.

10.) Understand the marketplace as best you can: it’s tough; that’s the short answer.

11.) And again: FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES. FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES. We love unpublished writers. We dislike amateurs.  That means: FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES.

New with Guernica, Two Stories Every Two Weeks

For years, I made sure that Guernica ran at least one story, every two weeks.

Doing that worked well (very well in fact, we won many awards and published many top writers). But—and this was important—there were so many other stories we couldn’t publish because just didn’t have the space.

But now that’s changed: now we publish at least two stories, every two weeks, for a minimum of four stories a month.

This issue: fiction from Jamie Quatro; a story from evangelical America. A man suffering from depression gets an “anointing” of sacred oil.

And “Debriefing” from E.C. Osondu (who we’ve published before when he won the Caine Prize for African Writing). E.C.’s story is wonderful: it’s advice for illegal immigrants from Nigeria on how to make it here.


Peter Stamm on Guernica

I’m quite drunk at this point. I’m thinking he could do anything to me, and then straightaway I’m ashamed of the thought. He’s so young I could be his mother. I’d like to run my hand through his hair, press myself against him, and protect him in some way.

Peter Stamm has been getting a lot of acclaim lately. A couple of weeks ago, he was in The New Yorker.

And this week, he’s in Guernica. Read “Expectations,” and you’ll see why Stamm is so lauded: the stories tend to be deeply ordinary, about ordinary things, but they’re closely observed. It’s not the plot, but the form.

I wanted “Expectations” because the woman narrating it tells you so much about herself, her loneliness, without ever directly addressing it.

I’m thinking it might be one of the best stories we’ve ever run.

Start Your Own Magazine: What do You Need to Know?

It’s going to be a lot like an AWP panel (but without your having to fly to Chicago, fight the crowds, and eat bad hotel food). Find out how to start a literary magazine of your own—and how to make it last—at this presentation/reading/Q&A.

Details from the Guernica site:

Guernica Inside & Out: A Talk at Fordham University-Lincoln Center

February 15th, 7 pm
Fordham University-Lincoln Center
113 W. 60th Street (at Columbus)

When writer William Saroyan told H.L. Mencken he wanted to be an editor, Mencken sent this letter to Saroyan:

“I note what you say about your aspiration to edit a magazine. I am sending you by this mail a six-chambered revolver. Load it and fire every one into your head. You will thank me after you get to hell and learn from other editors there how dreadful their job was on earth.”

But if you insist, we’ll help. Writer Matt Bell (also an editor at Dzanc and The Collagist) will read and participate. Guernica Daily Editor Rebecca Bates will read nonfiction selections from the magazine and talk about editing the stories.

Other editors—Fiction Editor Meakin Armstrong, and Founding Editors Michael Archer and Joel Whitney—will be in attendance.

If you happen to be in New York City, we hope to see you there!

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

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

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:

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.