Published from Amherst College, Massachusetts, The Common #9 includes a unique section Bombay/Mumbai: India from Inside and Out—Essays & Recipes, which I thought was just a catchy metaphor. But, sure enough, Nonita Kalra, Suketu Mehta and Amit Chaudhuri each contribute essays, but "Mom's Dal" is a recipe from the kitchen of Nirmala Swamidoss McConigley handed down to her daughter Nina McConigley; "Pomfret Chutney Masala" is from the kitchen of Bijoya Chaudhuri handed down to her son Amit Chaudhuri; and "Bhel Puri" is from the kitchen of Jehangir Mehta, executive chef and owner of New York City restaurants Graffiti, Me and You and Mehtaphor. As a fan of the essay and Indian cuisine, you can't go wrong with this issue!
To make art representing another victim's pain can be ethically thorny. Susan Sontag wrote, "The appetite for pictures showing bodies in pain is as keen, almost, as the desire for ones that show bodies naked." Images of suffering can arouse our horror, simulating an illusive identification between us and the victim or "a fantasy of witness" before we are conveniently deposited back into our lives so that someone else's trauma becomes our personalized catharsis.A note following the essay eplains that it was commissioned on the occasion of Doris Salcedo, curated by Madeleine Grynsztejn and Julie Rodrigues Widholm, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. It is the first retrospective of the work of sculptor Doris Salcedo. The essay is available in full online and includes numerous full color photos from the exhibit.
Both Lillian Li and Cristine Sneed offer advice on writing characters in their Glimmer Train Bulletin #100 craft essays. The GT Bulletin allows writers published in Glimmer Train Stories to offer their advice to other writers in short essays availble free monthly.
Li's essay "I Want You Bad: Can Nice People Make for Good Characters?" shares advice she's received - and broken away from - about creating 'interesting' characters without navel gazing: "I've started creating characters first, without wondering how they'll benefit the pace of the story. I write the characters I want, and because I want them around, I also want to get to know them."
Sneed's essay "What a Character! Incorporating a Living Person into a Work of Fiction" explores that very complicated issue, sharing the one - and only time - she included a real life friend as a character in her writing.
Also included in the May 2015 GT Bulletin is Courtney Sender's essay "Narrative Arc in the Novel," rounding out a great installment of craft essays to guide writers in their work.
First Place ($1000)
Katherine Schifani, "Pistol Whip" (nonfiction)
Second Place ($750)
Brian Van Reet, "The Chaff" (fiction)
Terry Hertzler (poetry)
M.E. Hope (poetry)
James Walley (fiction)
The issue also includes two photo essay features, Stacy L. Pearsall Veterans Portrait Project and Mary F. Calvert The Battle Within: Sexual Assault in America's Military. Both are exceptional contributions to our culture's understanding of military community and the effects of foreign war and domestic violence.
Ahmed el-Madini: Willow Alley, trans. Paul Starkey
Jana Elhassan: Floor 99, trans. Robin Moger
Atef Abu Saif: A Suspended Life, trans. William M Hutchins
Lina Hawyan Elhassan: Diamonds And Women, trans. Sophia Vasalou
Hammour Ziada: The Longing Of The Dervish, trans. Jonathan Wright
Shukri al-Mabkhout: The Italian, trans. Raphael Cohen
The winning entry will be announced May 6, 2015 in Abu Dhabi.
In addition to this and other great content, Banipal continues to include "Prison Writing," which first started with the self-themed issue #50. The editors continue the feature with two "new and powerful testimonies in, and will remain open indefinitely for more contributions."