The fifth issue of Asymptote kicks off with an extensive Special Feature on Taiwanese literature; a brand new essay by David Shields; a darkly humorous excerpt from a newly translated novel by Bohumil Hrabal; translated poetry from the endangered Ahtna Athabaskan language of interior Alaska; a mind-blowing spoken word performance by avant-gardist Hsia Yü, and the first ever English rendering of Bruno Jasienski’s murderous novel I Burn Paris.
Our nets cast wide, our boat has filled with authors as diversely rich as novelist Chu T’ien-wen via Howard Goldblatt and Sylvia Lin and poet Hsia Yü (whose exquisite recording you should definitely not miss) via Steve Bradbury. We present pioneering fictioneers Wu He and Li Ang alongside two of the most exciting 40-under literateurs: Jing Xianghai and Egoyan Zheng. Antonio Chen’s comprehensive survey of the past year in Taiwanese novels presents further evidence of a literature worthy of international attention. Next to the contemporary work, we are proud to feature an excerpt from Auvini Kadresengan’s ethnographic novel on the experiences of Taiwan’s Indigenous peoples, a Japanese colonial-era piece written in Japanese by Zhang Wenhuan, and a short story by Chi Ta-wei about gay Taiwan at the height of the AIDS crisis, which comes with an update on LGBT issues 14 years later.
Illustrated throughout by legendary Taiwanese artist Hou Chun-Ming, this issue debuts our redesigned Visual section: new fullscreen slideshows enable immersive views of our guest artist’s images of Hell and even a graphic short story by Judith Huang and Huang Zhipeng—a fascinating take on traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy, reworking Cultural Revolution-era author Hao Ran.
Words, however, remain our core business— Our Poetry section features new translations of twelve poets writing in, for example, Icelandic (Jón Thoroddsen), French (José-Flore Tappy), Persian (Hafez) and Chinese (two of the most important contemporary poets in China today: Xi Chuan and Ouyang Jianghe—the latter paired with essays by translator Austin Woerner and renowned sinologist Wolfgang Kubin. In Drama, we’re thrilled to have snagged an excerpt from Jonas Hassen Khemiri’s Obie Award-winning play about a chameleonic figure known only as Abulkasem. Our Interview section offers an important conversation about translation and Indonesian politics with Max Lane, the acclaimed translator of Pramoedya Ananta Toer.