Every week, the editors of The Paris Review lift the paywall on a selection of interviews, stories, poems, and more from the magazine’s archive. You can have these unlocked pieces delivered straight to your inbox every Sunday by signing up for the Redux newsletter.
This week, The Paris Review is celebrating Women in Translation Month! Read on for Elena Ferrante’s Art of Fiction interview, as well as Hiromi Kawakami’s short story “Mogera Wogura” and Iman Mersal’s poem “A Celebration.”
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Elena Ferrante, Art of Fiction No. 228
Issue no. 212 (Spring 2015)
I don’t think the reader should be indulged as a consumer, because he isn’t one. Literature that indulges the tastes of the reader is a degraded literature. My goal is to disappoint the usual expectations and inspire new ones.
By Hiromi Kawakami
Issue no. 173 (Spring 2005)
Every morning, I go around and give each human a few soft pats on the shoulder. First, this allows me to make sure they’re still alive. Second, it gives me a chance to find out if they want to leave immediately, or if they’d prefer to stay a little longer.
I drag the dead ones out of the house and drop them down a hole that has been dug outside, even deeper into the earth. The hole extends more than a hundred meters below the surface. I didn’t dig the hole. Neither did my wife. It took our ancestors generations to dig it, working at their own pace.
By Iman Mersal
Issue no. 197 (Summer 2011)
The thread of the story fell to the ground, so I went down on my hands and knees to hunt for it. This was at one of those patriotic celebrations, and all I saw were imported shoes and jackboots.
Once, on the train, an Afghan woman who had never seen Afghanistan said to me, “Triumph is possible.” Is that a prophecy? I wanted to ask. But my Persian was straight from a beginner’s textbook and she looked, while listening to me, as though she were picking through a wardrobe whose owner had died in a fire.
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