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Epidemics and Society
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From the Blog

FICTION: I Live in the Slums by Can Xue

May 19, 2020

I live in the slums. I didn’t settle firmly on one place to live. I could stay anywhere as long as it had a stove. This area produces coal: all the homes used coal to keep fires burning at night. I just lay in a corner of the kitchen stove to keep warm. I was afraid of the cold at night.

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FICTION: Leaving Baghdad by Sinan Antoon

May 18, 2020

II put my bag next to Roy’s big bag close to the front door and went to the hotel restaurant, a small room with four tables and a door that led to the kitchen. Abed, the waiter, saw me from inside the kitchen and we exchanged greetings. I sat down at a table on the right, turned my cup over, took a Lipton teabag from the plate in the middle of the table, and put it in the cup. If it had been real tea, from a teapot and flavored with cardamom, the breakfast would have been perfect. In America I had stopped drinking tea, especially after I moved out of my family’s house and switched to coffee. Two minutes later Abed arrived, carrying a tray with a small bowl of clotted cream, another with date syrup, and a blue plastic basket holding two loaves of sammun bread. He put the tray on the table in front of me, then went back to the kitchen to fetch the hot water for the tea. He hadn’t said much, except for the first day we had breakfast, a week earlier. He asked me at the time about my traveling companions.

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