Granta, Issue 114: Aliens
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This new issue of Granta features tales from the constantly shifting terrain of alien culture. Mark Gevisser writes of two closeted gay South African men, whose friendship has lasted five decades, dating back to a regime determined to keep black and white apart. Dinaw Mengestu writes of a war being waged in the Congo by exiles managing it from afar in France. Robert MacFarlane goes for a walk in Palestine, and meets families who can no longer return to their own homes. Nami Mun conjures a pair of spouses who feel like strangers in the wake of a terrible betrayal. Ann Patchett rediscovers the nun who taught her how to read and write -- just as her old teacher is about to live alone for the first time in her life. Paul Theroux recalls bearing witness to nineteen violent years in London. Julie Otsuka offers up a haunting tale of mail-order brides making their way from Japan to California. And we introduce Chris Dennis, a dynamic young writer who tells the tale of a young high school teacher who gets busted on a drug charge and winds up in jail with a "Rasputin-like" cellmate.
‘After you.’ Some of us on the boat were from Kyoto, and were delicate and fair, and had lived our entire lives in darkened rooms at the back of the house. Some of us were from Nara, and we prayed to our ancestors three times a day, and swore we could still hear the temple bells ringing. Some of us were farmers’ daughters from Yamaguchi with thick wrists and broad shoulders who had never gone to bed after nine. Some of us were from a small mountain hamlet in Yamanashi and had only recently
in the early 1960s to show the world that blacks really were ‘separate but equal’. It might have been an apartheid publicity exercise but it was also ‘the only place in town’ where black people were afforded the dignity of being able to ‘sit down and have a drink, and eat a meal’, Phil told me. Propaganda photographs show well-dressed black couples, or groups of businessmen, sitting at formally laid tables in an airy modernist interior of wood, light and geometric pattern, attended by liveried
was it good workmanship: tilt-and-turn, Siemens, Miele, Vorsprung durch Technik? My father was undeniably German that way. For his PhD in engineering he had spent six years examining the viscosity of water as it approaches boiling point. This is important, he explained. As water turned into steam it expanded and as steam turned into water it contracted – nature was left playing catch-up. Horror vacui, nature’s abhorrence of empty space, was key to understanding why matter could be animated. I
between soldier and rebel is marginal, yet it exists, and ultimately it’s the subtlety of that difference that frustrates him the most. It is in that divide that a nation like the Congo is made or broken. The soldiers in Walikale, both the UN and the Congolese – but most importantly the Congolese – are there to protect civilians, but no one believes that; neither the soldiers nor the civilian population around them. Once the troops marching outside Sita’s office are in the bush, away from the
dombolo song has this section where, having reached a small peak of hip-wiggling frenzy, the music stops and one is supposed to pull one’s hips to the side and pause, in anticipation of an explosion of music faster and more frenzied than before. When this happens, you are supposed to stretch out your arms and do some complicated kung-fu manoeuvres. Or keep the hips rolling, and slowly make your way down to your haunches, then work yourself back up. If you watch a well-endowed woman doing this,