We’ve launched a new magazine, Em Dash. Here’s the pithy content description:
In its first issue, there is poetry by Taejoon Moon, translated by Christopher Merrill and Won-Chung Kim, a Q&A with AHB’s senior editor (me), and an excerpted essay from Children of the Monsoon, by David Jimenez, translated by Andrea Rosenberg. Jimenez is the Asia Bureau Chief for the Spanish newspaper El Mundo and has been reporting from Asia for nearly twenty years. His book is a compilation of essays on young people from Afghanistan, Mongolia, the Philippines, North Korea, China, Indonesia, and more. It is a terribly good book.
The piece Sarah has chosen for Em Dash‘s first issue is called “Vothy,” which is the name of a delightful little Cambodian girl with AIDS. Her mother is with her in the hospital. She is sick, too. Here is an excerpt:
“Sokgan has never understood how that scrawny, feeble man who promised her a new life in the city could have the strength after an arduous workday to pedal another eleven kilometers to the brothels of Svay Pak, on the outskirts of the city, to spend his day’s earnings there. But it’s too late now for regrets. She is lying naked, too weak to feign modesty about the body she no longer recognizes as her own, in a room on the third floor of the Russian hospital in Phnom Penh.”
The essay and the whole first issue of Em Dash is available here: (scroll down to “from the magazine”). The book comes out next month.
It’s a different one. Not one I’ve written but one I’ve edited, on its way out, translated by Andrea Rosenberg from the Spanish original by David Jimenez. The title is Children of the Monsoon. It’s a difficult book, not something you pick up in an airport, unless you’re of a serious bent, not traveling for pleasure. If you pick it up like that, you might not only not like the book, you might cut your trip short. If there is something that is the opposite of travel literature, this would probably qualify. Travel lit often makes one feel like traveling. Not this. At least not for me. My response in reading the book was to feel guilty about all the traveling I’ve done.
Why? Because these are clear-eyed portraits, not the sorts of things one sees in one’s dreams of traveling to far away places. Here you see people up close, especially young, vulnerable people. This is why I find it hard to read. But sometimes hard things are important. I felt these hard stories were important and worth reading. Jimenez has a sincere voice, a careful eye. He seems to have a good heart. Rosenburg has done a fantastic job in making the voice sing in English. It’s a really good book, and it has taught me things about the world that I didn’t know before. I am grateful that we got the chance to publish it, and I hope many people will find it compelling and beautiful. I think it is both.