Excluded from Myanmar citizenship, the Rohingya, an ethnic minority, are the largest stateless group in the world, so they pay smugglers to get them to Malaysia in inhumane conditions.
In Nigeria, Boko Haram left millions of “internally displaced persons,” called IDPs, living in makeshift camps, trying to keep their children from starving while relief food gets pirated and sold off in local markets. A journalist snuck into one camp without authorization to get the real story of life on the ground there.
Barbara Zitwer, Colm Tóibín, Elham Manea, Linda Coverdale, Kyung-sook Shin, and Anne Landsman share their stories of immigration to protest Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban as an abomination in a country built and fuelled by people from away.
When a Danish social activist gets fined for driving and feeding a few Syrian refugees, she questions the climate of fear that’s arisen in her native Denmark, and what she sees as a fundamental change in the her culture’s values: the desire to help other human beings.
One sex-positive woman’s exploration of Feminist porn reveals a lot about the complexity of feminist thinking, mainstream porn’s intrinsic violence and sexism, and the enduring hope of remaking sex work.
An essay about getting older, loving music and being the middle-aged people at an arena concert.
Writers Sam Lipsyte and Diane Cook correspond with one another about their craft. Cook compares what it was like putting together stories as a producer for This American Life to writing stories for herself.
[Fiction] An aunt recalls how she met her husband. (From Mo Yan, 2012 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.)
“‘If you want to know why I married Hao Dashou, I have to start with the frogs. Some old friends got together for dinner on the night I announced my retirement, and I wound up drunk – I hadn’t drunk much, less than a bowlful, but it was cheap liquor. Xie Xiaoque, the son of the restaurant owner, Xie Baizhua, one of those sweet-potato kids of the ‘63 famine, took out a bottle of ultra-strong Wuliangye – to honour me, he said – but it was counterfeit, and my head was reeling. Everyone at the table was wobbly, barely able to stand, and Xie Xiaoque himself foamed at the mouth till his eyes rolled up into his head.’”
On the lives of Soviet cosmonauts—and circus performers:
“During the first ninety-six-day Salyut mission in 1978, cosmonaut Yury Romanenko was apparently so mesmerized by the vastness of the cosmos that he stepped out to have a better look and forgot to attach himself with safety tethers to the space station. Fortunately his cohort noticed and quickly grabbed his foot as it floated out of the hatch. Even the most trained and disciplined individual could ignore all precautions and checklists and succumb to a greater urge.
“And then there was the monotony of space, the long stretches of nothingness, whether experienced alone – certainly the deepest emptiness of all – or in a small group, when tensions nearly always arose. Despite the speed of the aircraft, inside there was often no sensation of movement and everything appeared fixed and motionless. Moments of sensory bombardment alternated with extended periods of sensory deprivation. The first few cosmonauts were given books; later ones, curiously, were instead handed knives, wood blocks, coloured pencils and paper with which to pass the time. Some individuals would apparently become so exasperated with the lack of stimuli that they’d wish for the equipment to break down simply to provide some variety.”
[Fiction] [Not single-page] Mail-order brides on a journey across the ocean:
“On the boat we were mostly virgins. We had long black hair and flat wide feet and we were not very tall. Some of us had eaten nothing but rice gruel as young girls and had slightly bowed legs, and some of us were only fourteen years old and were still young girls ourselves. Some of us came from the city, and wore stylish city clothes, but many more of us came from the country and on the boat we wore the same old kimonos we’d been wearing for years – faded hand-me-downs from our sisters that had been patched and re-dyed many times. Some of us came from the mountains and had never before seen the sea, except for in pictures, and some of us were the daughters of fishermen who had been around the sea all our lives. Perhaps we had lost a brother or father to the sea, or a fiancé, or perhaps someone we loved had jumped into the water one unhappy morning and simply swum away, and now it was time for us, too, to move on.”