I am the nonfiction editor of Asymptote, and we have a new issue out. I am particularly proud of the nonfiction section, which includes Grégoire Chamayou on drones, an epistolary exchange between the wonderful Semezdin Mehmedinović and Miljenko Jergović on Susan Sontag and other matters, prose poetry from Syria, the Soviet literary icon Ilya Ilf, and the memories of the Martinican writer Raphaël Confiant.
I have a new essay out in Onsite 32: Weak Systems. It is about Beaumaris, Wales, the British class system, and Brecht, amongst many other things. Read it here. This is the beginning:
The excavator made short work of the sheds. Its power shovel easily broke through their corrugated iron walls, rusted by a century of sea spray, to reveal piles of old fishing tackle and the remnants of half-built boats. Amid the destruction, debris from the sheds fell onto the smooth stones of the beach. The sky had the same green-grey hue as the pebbles, as if God had run out of colours in Anglesey and painted this Welsh island with the murky remnants of his palette.
Further along the beach, a woman is walking her dogs. They sniff at the water’s edge, eagerly searching for a gift offered up by the sea: a small crab perhaps, or else Mr Jones’ unwanted office lunch, tossed out of his car window as he drove along the winding seaside road and now returned to dry land by the tide. The woman is searching, too. Her head is bowed down, as if in prayer, and her eyes scan the water’s wake. She bends down, picks something up, and cradles it in her hand. It’s a shard of porcelain, with fine black ink work depicting a castle, hidden under a hazy glaze of blue, yellow and red. It could be a page from a children’s colouring book, hardened by the sea. ‘Children,’ Walter Benjamin wrote, ‘learn from bright colours, because the fantastic play of colour is the home of memory without yearning, and it can be free of yearning because it is unalloyed.’
She looks towards the sheds.
I have a new working paper out with Small Arms Survey, Contested Borders: Continuing Tensions over the Sudan-South Sudan Border, which surveys the border zone since 2013, in the midst of the two countries civil wars.
As part of the New Museum's Temporary Center for Translation exhibition, which housed excerpts from my Grammar of Redaction, Six Degrees, the New Museum's blog, is publishing a series of texts around the themes of the exhibition. First up is an excerpt from the novel I am working on, Redacted Mind, introduced by the wonderful Omar Berrada.
A Grammar of Redaction. As part of the New Museum's Temporary Center for Translation (Summer 2014), I submitted some materials from an ongoing book project, How To Do Things Without Words, which looks at the aesthetic logic of redacted documents from the American War on Terror. A few pages of the grammar are on display as part of the exhibition. I also wrote a longer grammar analysing some of strange linguistic categories to be found in these documents, as well as a Phrasebook, that contains excerpts from the texts that I discuss in the grammar. You can download both below.
A review of The Lover of the Hand
We in Baghdad have our differences, I know. The dust had not even settled over al-Balkhi's disagreement with Ahmad ibn Fadlan over whether the known geographical world can reoccur again in perfect form, before Ali ibn Sahl Rabban al-Tabari saw fit to reignite the debate with the Christians over whether the Trinity can be understood through human perception.
Despite these differences, my reader, about one thing we can all agree. The perilous doctrine of acquisitionism has no place in our land.Read More
In summer 2013, I took a trip with Tony Craze, my father and a fellow writer, to Gurs, the site of a former internment camp near Pau, France.
We are now writing a book about the trip, On Passage, which is composed of a series of meditations on passage: for each stage of the trip, we both write about a moment of our journey, and then reply to the other's text. It is a conversation in fragments. Slowly, we are building up a patchwork of intersecting meditations on the theme of passage. Below the fold is a series of excerpts from my side of the exchange, meditating on Gurs. You can read earlier excerpts here and here.
You can read the new extracts over at Medium, in a beautifully crisp format, or below the fold.