CQR editors Syed Afzal Haider and Elizabeth McKenzie will welcome Bay Area contributors Randy Fowler, Steve Gutierrez, Robert Kerwin, Hank Lawson, Zack Rogow and Moazzam Sheikh at San Francisco’s Adobe Books, June 24th, 2018, 6 pm!
Two ways to see us at Printers Row 2018! Come to our table in the Poetry Foundation Tent, and attend our celebration of CQR contributors:
Recognized and reprinted by Best American Short Stories, the O. Henry Prize Stories, the Pushcart Prize Anthology and Best American Essays, the Chicago Quarterly Review will be represented by three of its favorite writers in this half-hour reading. Our readers are novelist Peter Ferry, famed for The Travel Writer and Old Heart, and Dipika Mukherjee and Faisal Mohyuddin, two increasingly notable contributors to CQR who are included in its celebrated and singular South Asian American issue of last year. Copies of their work will be on sale and available for signing. This event takes place in room 4030 of the Jones College Prep High School, 700 S. State St., 10:30-11 a.m. on Sunday, June 10.
Come meet the CQR staff at the Evanston Literary Festival Book Fair, May 12, 2018.
Featuring work by: Kathleen de Azevedo * Michael Blades * Christopher Buckley * Danny Calegari * Tyler Corbridge * Jennifer Dorner * Ken Drexler * Julie Esther Fisher * Randy Fowler * Jared Garland * Michael Griffith * Aliete Guerrero * Stephen D. Gutierrez * Colin Hamilton * Alison Harris * Richard Hedderman * Catherine Abbey Hodges * Carlie Hoffman *Charles Hood * Nathan Isaksson * Sharon Kennedy-Nolle * Robert Kerwin * Hank Lawson * William L. Lederer * Catherine Mao * Susan Mathison * Margarita Meklina * Megan Moodie * Daniel Mueller * RCA O’Neal * Rebecca Pelky * John Robinson * Zack Rogow * Dennis Saleh * R. Craig Sautter * Susan Sensemann * Ryan Elliott Smith * Moez Surani * Jackie Thomas-Kennedy * Sean Towey * Siamak Vossoughi * Daniel Webre * John Sibley Williams
Cover photograph “The Boards” by Susan Mathison
“Gagarin’s Shoelaces” appeared in CQR #23. Congratulations, Eireene.
“Campoamor” by Patricia Engel, first published in CQR #23, now appears in Best American Short Stories 2017.
“Byron’s Pistols” by Lucas Carpenter
“Something That Lasts” by Joan Li
“The Ocean Between Us” by Margit Liesche
Congratulations to our contributors.
Featuring work by: Leslie Marie Aguilar * Ronald Alexander * Saskia Anderson * Renée Branum * Jackson Onose Braun * John Chandler * Kevin Clark * Mark Crimmins * Thomas Dodson * Christina Drill * Donka Farkas * Robert Fay * (Corinne) Renny Golden * Eva Sage Gordon * John S. Green * Rumi Hara * John Harn * Karl Harshbarger * James Kelly * Stephen Kessler * Chris Gordon Owen * John Stanford Owen * Clarke W. Owens * J. Ray Paradiso * Harry Mark Petrakis * Carol M. Quinn * Robert Sachs * Kevin Sampsell * Renate Stendhal * Alison Carb Sussman * Clark Theriot * Yukiko Tominaga * Russell Working
An anthology of an emerging wave of South Asian writing that unashamedly explores issues of otherness and marginalisation.
The rich hues that paint the cover of independent literary journal Chicago Quarterly Review’s South Asian American Issue are colours typically associated with South Asian cultures: reds, oranges, blues, and greens; falling raindrops symbolising narratives of loss and displacement that are expected of South Asian writers. The real surprise lies inside, within the collection of short stories, poems, and essays edited and curated by Moazzam Sheikh.
The stories stretch across continents: the South Asian homelands represented as much as the migrant’s experience in the Northern Hemisphere. This is an anthology of an emerging wave of South Asian writing, with every author and poet appearing to be intent on pushing back the parameters of literary space conceded to ‘brown’ writers.
In his introduction to the volume, Chicago Quarterly Review’s (CQR) guest editor Sheikh notes that South Asian American writers are generally a ‘fractured bunch’, their ‘competing master narratives’ a stumbling block in achieving a cohesive identity. Differences exist within and outside, with stereotyping placing the South Asian American writer and their art in a convenient little box labelled ‘brown’.
The CQR’s special edition picks up that perception and shakes it to display the overlapping fluid identities of a South Asian American as an artist, an immigrant, an American, and a South Asian. For far too long, South Asian writers have been grudged entry into the sphere of English language writing due to their lineage. But the 40-plus artists featured in this anthology are having none of that. While the tropes of alienation and displacement do make their appearance, the invocation of pity has disappeared. Writings that explore issues of otherness and marginalisation are unashamed, irreverent even, in owning English as their medium of expression.
Befittingly, CQR’s South Asian American Issue is a compilation of intense thought. Each entry touches upon a different vulnerability of humankind. This is the strength of the collection: universal in emotion, South Asian in character.
Language and the appropriation of expression continue to be at the heart of the South Asian experience abroad. However, the writings in this collection attempt to step beyond the post-colonial identity and locate their bearings in a global context. Neelanjana Banerjee’s story about a reluctant Indian’s part in Operation Desert Storm, “The Songs in Sam’s Head” finds space alongside Madhushree Ghosh’s poignant essay, “#Aylan, Or How to Treat Refugees”. Violence rears its ugly head too, retold in Pireeni Sundaralingam’s poems, “Lynch Mob” and “The Gecko Remembers”, as laments to war-torn Sri Lanka, and against the individual as the molestation of a little girl in Sayantani DasGupta’s non-fiction “The Butcher Shop of New Delhi”. Tanu Mehrotra Wakefield uses the familiar South Asian attachment to traditional music in her poem “Threading the Ghazal” to capture what Neelanjana Banerjee describes as being “giddy with America”.
Dipika Mukherjee’s “Descent from the Winter Garden” holds as true for the Black Lives Matter movement as for socio-political turmoil elsewhere in the world. Sikha Malaviya spins strange odes to India’s underbelly and Vikas Menon ponders upon cultural practices in sharp-edged words. Sophia Naz’s poetry takes this play on words a bit further; juxtaposing Urdu meanings onto English words and vice versa to create poetical paragraphs that mock the reader. The list of writers is long and varied, all attempting to define their multifaceted identities in a world of shifting reality.
Nadia Chaney captures this literary awakening in “There’s Really No Such Thing as the “Voiceless””, taking her cue from Arundhati Roy’s famous quote “There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.” The ‘erasure of self’ that Chaney terms ‘shape-shifting’ is a preoccupation of every migrant group. But the difference is in manner of looking inwards. It is, perhaps, best summed up by Amit Majmudar’s lines:
“The brown, who once studied how to be white,
now study the brownness of brown.”
(From Brown Study; Or Poem Ending with a Line by Goering)
The emotionally charged writings are punctuated by the inclusion of sketches and photographs, the visual art acting as a reprieve from the heaviness of ‘cultural reconstruction and self-knowledge’. That is not to say that one art form is disconnected from the other. Rather, the fragmented pieces of Sadia Uqaili’s collages overlay each other; transgressing lines much like the identities of the writers showcased in the issue. Faisal Mohyuddin’s ink on paper “Caliban”, borrows its title and subject from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, once again hinting at the universality of this edition of South Asian American writings.
The modern South Asian writer is caught at the crossroads of what Nayomi Munaweera calls “the story of what it means to be both a child of a mother and a child of history” (What Lies Between Us: A Novel). Befittingly, CQR’s South Asian American Issue is a compilation of intense thought. Each entry touches upon a different vulnerability of humankind. This is the strength of the collection: universal in emotion, South Asian in character. It is not an anthology for the reader looking for saffron-scented sweet words. It is an unapologetic scrutiny of modern life. Highly recommended.
Thanks to the Global Voices Performing Arts and Lecture Series at the International House at the University of Chicago for hosting this April 4, 2017 reading to celebrate the South Asian American issue of the Chicago Quarterly Review! Featuring Syed Afzal Haider, Faisal Mohyuddin, Dipika Mukherjee, Toni Nealie, Ravibala Shenoy, and Sachin Waikar, moderated by CQR editor Elizabeth McKenzie.
“This rich collection of short stories, poems, and creative non-fiction not only achieves Guest Editor Moazzam Sheikh’s goals but also displays the complex issues of identity and language, diaspora and migration, culture and history, gender and sexuality, experienced today by South Asian American writers. Immigrant identities are almost always in flux, but in their century-old presence in North America, South Asians have not settled on one particular approach to their diverse lives. This “unruly bunch” loves “to talk, argue, holler,” not always choosing to learn from other ethnic and racial histories. Readers, South Asians and others, will have a chance to discover themselves in the voices they hear in these pages.”