The Margellos World Republic of Letters is celebrating acclaimed female authors from around the globe. As part of Margellos’ mission to bring previously overlooked poetry and prose into the English-speaking world, we are proud to make accessible the most influential female voices of our time. Here’s a roundup of a few of our favorites.
Love in the New Millennium by Can Xue is a darkly comic novel. A group of women inhabits a world of constant surveillance, where informants lurk in the flower beds and false reports fly. Conspiracies abound in a community that normalizes paranoia and suspicion. Some try to flee—whether to a mysterious gambling bordello or to ancestral homes that can be reached only underground through muddy caves, sewers, and tunnels. Others seek out the refuge of Nest County, where traditional Chinese herbal medicines can reshape or psychologically transport the self. Each life is circumscribed by buried secrets and transcendent delusions. Can Xue’s masterful love stories for the new millennium trace love’s many guises—satirical, tragic, transient, lasting, nebulous, and fulfilling—against a kaleidoscopic backdrop of commerce and industry, fraud and exploitation, and sex and romance drawn from the East and the West.
The Brazen Plagiarist is a collection of poems by Kiki Dimoula. Her poetry—the most praised and prized in contemporary Greek literature—is a paradox, both mysteriously intricate and widely popular. Her magic lens defamiliarizes all that is familiar, compressing distances between far-flung realms, conflating concrete and abstract, literal and metaphorical, physical and metaphysical. Exacting and oracular at once, Dimoula superimposes absurdity on rationality, caustic irony on dark melancholy. This first English translation of a wide selection of poems from across Dimoula’s oeuvre brings together some of her most beguiling, arresting, and moving work.
Tales of a Severed Head brings Moroccan poet Rachida Madani’s remarkable poems to English-language readers for the first time. In this volume, Madani addresses present-day issues surrounding the role of women in society—issues not unlike those explored a thousand years ago in the enduring collection of Arab tales known as The Thousand and One Nights. Madani locates this story in the modern age, where women are still fighting for their own lives as well as the lives of her fellow sufferers. But in today’s world, the threat comes as much from poverty, official corruption, the abuse of human rights, and the lingering effects of colonialism as from the power wielded by individual men. Madani weaves a tale of contemporary resistance, and once again language provides a potent weapon.
France, Story of a Childhood by Zahia Rahmani is a moving tale of imprisonment and escape, persecution, and loss. It is narrated by the daughter of an alleged Harki, an Algerian soldier who fought for the French during the Algerian War for Independence. It was the fate of such men to be twice exiled, first in their homeland after the war, and later in France, where fleeing Harki families sought refuge but instead faced contempt, discrimination, and exclusion. Zahia Rahmani blends reality and imagination in her writing, offering a fictionalized version of her own family’s struggle.
Please Talk to Me is a collection of short stories by Liliana Heker. A master of the genre, Heker rejected exile during the dangerous Dirty War years and formed part of a cultural resistance that stood against repression. As a writer, she found in the microcosm of the family and everyday events subtle entry into political, historical, and social issues. Heker’s stories examine the rituals people invent to relate to one another, especially girls and women, and they reveal how the consequences of tiny acts may be enormous. With charm, economy, and a close focus on the intimate, Heker has perfected the art of the glimpse.