Fiction

An Abundance of Fish

Spring festival, before the fish arrive: Teresa Teng croons from the radio; I hum along as I hang paper decorations, the reds and golds bright against our cream-colored walls. You’re in the kitchen making dinner—Shanghai-style sauteéd niangao, braised cod, stir-fried green beans. Sizzle, pop. Water runs from the sink, interrupting the music for a moment, […]

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The Red Secretary

The ride out past Sorintov Station to the monument the soldiers held hostage was bumpy and hot. Every time the sun sank below the horizon during one of its ten daily sunsets, Arkadi welcomed the cooler air, and the quiet. The world always felt more real in the dark. Arkadi sat in the back of […]

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Rising Star

Meerschon Grant Selection Committee— I understand that only one of these proposals you’re reading will be funded. One out of what I’m sure will be hundreds, if not thousands. And that’s just from the research community. Once scholars from other fields learn that this opportunity isn’t limited to the sciences—that they can read the Dead […]

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Auspicium Melioris Aevi

Singapore stank. The last Asian post of the British empire stank. It was a country at war, a country under occupation, and it stank. It stank from the musk of the Chinese men milling on the road, it stank from the sewage cooking in the open drains, and it stank from the diesel burning in […]

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To Budapest, with Love

I am seventeen. I am in Budapest, and it is the Communist era. At the airport, there were Russian soldiers with Kalashnikovs patrolling the runways. Only one airline flew to Budapest, the national airline Malév. There were few passengers. I stopped at passport control and showed my American passport. It contains a photograph of me […]

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The Thule Stowaway

I have reached these lands but newly From an ultimate dim Thule— From a wild weird clime that lieth, sublime Out of SPACE—out of TIME. Edgar Allan Poe, “Dream–Land” The Poet’s Tale The dreamer, born bleak, invents an existence elsewhere. He tosses in his sleep, his hair tangled. His hands grasp at nothing, and his […]

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The Unknown God

Aworo, Lord of Horses, god of the Western plains, walked into the marketplace in Kalub in the third hour of the morning. It was early summer, and at this hour the sun was warm and comfortable. Pens of livestock and slaves, rickety stalls, rows of fish staring blankly, baskets of fruit, orange and red and […]

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Bodies Stacked Like Firewood

Three words, allegedly, written in Sharpie on his bathroom mirror: CREMATION, NO FUNERAL. “Shortest suicide note ever,” said a girl standing beside me at the river’s edge, staring into the flames. “That’s so Cyd.” The shortest suicide note is none at all, I thought, and that was so Cyd, so much so that it made […]

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