9780965956529: Suitcase: A Journal of Transcultural Traffic, Volume 3
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The pages of Suitcase intertwine the freshest mix of writing, art, and photography from around the world. From Amos Oz's tale of epiphany at the border between Israeli desert and suburbia to Nuruddin Farah's account of surviving childhood, crocodiles, and colonialism in Somalia; from Jacques Derrida's reflections on politics and immigration in a new Europe to Seydou Keita's historic photographs of Mali's changing society, Suitcase's mix of international writing and art reflects a stangely familiar country in which cultures and perspectives jostle and complicate each other.

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from Nuruddin Farah, "Childhood of My Schizophrenia": ... I grew up in Kallafo, a town in the Ogaden under Ethiopian rule. Besides us Somalis there was an Arab community engaged in business and a large garrison of Amharic-speaking soldiers. The soldiers were said to have been recruited from all the ethnic groupings of the Ethiopian Empire. The schools, whether run by the Somali community or by the American missions, were situated near the seat of authority, on the other side of the Shebelle River, where Government Hill was. We thought it an ordeal to cross the river, a test of our courage. In the numinous words of Kallafo's village idiot: The future is a river. To know which of its banks is the present, and which the past, you must cross it with the slowness of a crocodile tearing apart a victim....

from Halleh Ghorashi, "The Valley Ones: Conversations with Women Activists of the Iranian Revolution": We proudly called ourselves "the children of the revolution." I was sixteen years old in 1978, when the first sounds of protest were heard openly in the streets of Tehran. I remember going to the streets and seeing an ocean of people walking together and then joining them and walking as one. There was a sense of invincibility. We weren't afraid of attacks by the police because we felt that we were now protected by our family, our big family of Iranians. It was the beginning of a time of unparalleled freedom and open political exchange in Iran. Never before had there been so much open discussion in the streets. It was a great blossoming of the human spirit and a time when, for young women in particular, the feeling of empowerment was overwhelming. We called it the "Spring of Freedom...."

Twenty years have passed since then, and today I am living in exile in the Netherlands. Approximately 10,000 other Iranian women live here, many of whom left Iran under similar circumstances as political refugees after the revolution. In an effort to make sense of our shared identity and my own experience as a former activist, I interviewed these women as the subjects of my Ph.D. research in anthropology. From June 1996 to April 1997, I interviewed twenty Iranian women, all of them former activists like myself....

from Craig Etcheson, "The Day I Saw a Monster": When first I laid eyes on him, it hardly seemed necessary to have brought along the security escort. He was slight in build, his manner rather meek and deferential. The district chief had fetched the man from his fields and delivered him to the local temple at my request, so I could question him about his previous life, before he had become a humble rice farmer. My guards, cradling their AK-47s, eyed him warily from a distance. They knew who he was and seemed not to want to get too close, as if he carried some contagion.

We were in Koh Thom district, in Cambodia's Kandal province, along the Bassac River about seventy kilometers south of the capitol. The dirt track leading there from Phnom Penh is supposedly a national highway, but it is deeply rutted, and since we were well into the rainy season, it had taken several hours to get there in our convoy of four-wheel-drive vehicles. I had come along that day with one of our mass grave mapping teams to audit their procedures and perhaps to interview a murderer, if we could find him....

from Idris Ali, "Dongola": They were two strangers confined in a suffocatingly hot room. It was an inhuman heat; the very walls and ceiling throbbed with fiery heat. There was no door or window. Every corner of this cell was aromatic with musk, sandalwood, strong perfumes, and Sudanese incense, and ornamented with palm branches. A platter of pigeon stuffed with roasted green wheat was the newlyweds' supper. In this lethal heat it was impossible to converse; their souls wanted to part from their bodies. Silence. He waited. Unease and surprise. A stranger. Waiting. The night was slipping away from them. In the morning they would have to delight their elderly families. Awad Shalali took off his clothes, leaving on only his elegant Parisian underpants, as if he were on a beach. But there was no beach; this was a hellish desert land that reached into the depths of one's soul....

from Julian Semilian, "The French Sneeze": just before i arrived there was a lot of talk about the "french sneeze." someone had sneezed but not before someone else had predicted it. and now no one could remember who the "prophet" was.

i had an idea. let's propose a cash reward for this "prophet," say 150, to be paid in american dollars or deutche marks. suddenly sixty comrades crowded up to the counter to furnish proof they were "the one." it was of course a treacherous tactic, a "slick trick" meant to scout out and punish the perpetrator.

i sensed the director's smoldering gaze on me. words of praise were about to form on the tip of his tongue and flutter away like butterflies from his lips. to all appearances i was as cool as a mountain creek in a shady grove in the early spring, but inside i was burning with pride like a forest on fire. the others who understood were boiling with envy like a raging volcano.

off in the distance the fire militia jeeps were bellowing like a pack of tyrannosaurus rex on a vengeful rampage.

Review:

"Fills a crucial space by fostering an international dialogue that constantly poses and challenges questions of relativism and cultural difference." -- Larry Siems, Freedom to Write Program, PEN Center USA West

"I like Suitcase a lot: it has severe ambitions." -- Andrei Codrescu, Poet, NPR Commentator and Editor of Exquisite Corpse

"One of the wittiest, best designed, and most sophisticated cultural magazine I have seen." -- David Rodes, Director, Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts

"Ranks with some of world's most exciting journals." -- SAID, winner of the Gunter Grass Award for Poetry, Berlin

"Suitcase spells the future for the humanities, which can only grow if it speaks to an increasingly diverse citizenry." -- Gary Phillips, South Central Los Angeles writer and activist

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