The International Literary Quarterly
Contributors

Shanta Acharya
Marjorie Agosín
Donald Adamson
Diran Adebayo
Nausheen Ahmad
Toheed Ahmad
Amanda Aizpuriete
Baba Akote
Elisa Albo
Daniel Albright
Meena Alexander
Rosetta Allan
María Teresa Andruetto
Innokenty Annensky
Claudia Apablaza
Robert Appelbaum
Michael Arditti
Jenny Argante
Sandra Arnold
C.J.K. Arkell
Agnar Artúvertin
Sarah Arvio
Rosemary Ashton
Mammed Aslan
Coral Atkinson
Rose Ausländer
Shushan Avagyan
Razif Bahari
Elizabeth Baines
Jo Baker
Ismail Bala
Evgeny Baratynsky
Saule Abdrakhman-kyzy Batay
Konstantin Nikolaevich Batyushkov
William Bedford
Gillian Beer
Richard Berengarten
Charles Bernstein
Ilya Bernstein
Mashey Bernstein
Christopher Betts
Sujata Bhatt
Sven Birkerts
Linda Black
Chana Bloch
Amy Bloom
Mary Blum Devor
Michael Blumenthal
Jean Boase-Beier
Jorge Luis Borges
Alison Brackenbury
Julia Brannigan
Theo Breuer
Iain Britton
Françoise Brodsky
Amy Brown
Bernard Brown
Diane Brown
Gay Buckingham
Carmen Bugan
Stephen Burt
Zarah Butcher McGunnigle
James Byrne
Kevin Cadwallander
Howard Camner
Mary Caponegro
Marisa Cappetta
Helena Cardoso
Adrian Castro
Luis Cernuda
Firat Cewerî
Pierre Chappuis
Neil Charleton
Janet Charman
Sampurna Chattarji
Amit Chaudhuri
Mèlissa Chiasson
Ronald Christ
Alex Cigale
Sally Cline
Marcelo Cohen
Lila Cona
Eugenio Conchez
Andrew Cowan
Mary Creswell
Christine Crow
Pedro Xavier Solís Cuadra
Majella Cullinane
P. Scott Cunningham
Emma Currie
Jeni Curtis
Stephen Cushman
David Dabydeen
Susan Daitch
Rubén Dario
Jean de la Fontaine
Denys Johnson Davies
Lydia Davis
Robert Davreu
David Dawnay
Jill Dawson
Rosalía de Castro
Joanne Rocky Delaplaine
Patricia Delmar
Christine De Luca
Tumusiime Kabwende Deo
Paul Scott Derrick
Josephine Dickinson
Belinda Diepenheim
Jenny Diski
Rita Dove
Arkadii Dragomoschenko
Paulette Dubé
Denise Duhamel
Jonathan Dunne
S. B. Easwaran
Jorge Edwards
David Eggleton
Mohamed El-Bisatie
Tsvetanka Elenkova
Johanna Emeney
Osama Esber
Fiona Farrell
Ernest Farrés
Elaine Feinstein
Gigi Fenster
Micah Timona Ferris
Vasil Filipov
Maria Filippakopoulou
Ruth Fogelman
Peter France
Alexandra Fraser
Bashabi Fraser
Janis Freegard
Robin Fry
Alice Fulton
Ulrich Gabriel
Manana Gelashvili
Laurice Gilbert
Paul Giles
Zulfikar Ghose
Corey Ginsberg
Chrissie Gittins
Sarah Glazer
Michael Glover
George Gömöri
Giles Goodland
Martin Goodman
Roberta Gordenstein
Mina Gorji
Maria Grech Ganado
David Gregory
Philip Gross
Carla Guelfenbein
Daniel Gunn
Charles Hadfield
Haidar Haidar
Ruth Halkon
Tomás Harris
Geoffrey Hartman
Siobhan Harvey
Beatriz Hausner
John Haynes
Jennifer Hearn
Helen Heath
Geoffrey Heptonstall
Felisberto Hernández
W.N. Herbert
William Hershaw
Michael Hettich
Allen Hibbard
Hassan Hilmi
Rhisiart Hincks
Kerry Hines
Amanda Hopkinson
Adam Horovitz
David Howard
Sue Hubbard
Aamer Hussein
Fahmida Hussain
Alexander Hutchison
Sabine Huynh
Juan Kruz Igerabide Sarasola
Neil Langdon Inglis
Jouni Inkala
Ofonime Inyang
Kevin Ireland
Michael Ives
Philippe Jacottet
Robert Alan Jamieson
Rebecca Jany
Andrea Jeftanovic
Ana Jelnikar
Miroslav Jindra
Stephanie Johnson
Bret Anthony Johnston
Marion Jones
Tim Jones
Gabriel Josipovici
Pierre-Albert Jourdan
Sophie Judah
Tomoko Kanda
Maarja Kangro
Jana Kantorová-Báliková
Fawzi Karim
Kapka Kassabova
Susan Kelly-DeWitt
Mimi Khalvati
Daniil Kharms
Velimir Khlebnikov
Akhmad hoji Khorazmiy
David Kinloch
John Kinsella
Yudit Kiss
Tomislav Kuzmanović
Andrea Labinger
Charles Lambert
Christopher Lane
Jan Lauwereyns
Fernando Lavandeira
Graeme Lay
Ilias Layios
Hiên-Minh Lê
Mikhail Lermontov
Miriam Levine
Suzanne Jill Levine
Micaela Lewitt
Zhimin Li
Joanne Limburg
Birgit Linder
Pippa Little
Parvin Loloi
Christopher Louvet
Helen Lowe
Ana Lucic
Aonghas MacNeacail
Kona Macphee
Kate Mahony
Sara Maitland
Channah Magori
Vasyl Makhno
Marcelo Maturana Montañez
Stephanie Mayne
Ben Mazer
Harvey Molloy
Osip Mandelstam
Alberto Manguel
Olga Markelova
Laura Marney
Geraldine Maxwell
John McAuliffe
Peter McCarey
John McCullough
Richard McKane
John MacKinven
Cilla McQueen
Edie Meidav
Ernst Meister
Lina Meruane
Jesse Millner
Deborah Moggach
Mawatle J. Mojalefa
Jonathan Morley
César Moro
Helen Mort
Laura Moser
Andrew Motion
Paola Musa
Robin Myers
André Naffis-Sahely
Vivek Narayanan
Bob Natifu
María Negroni
Hernán Neira
Barbra Nightingale
Paschalis Nikolaou
James Norcliffe
Carol Novack
Annakuly Nurmammedov
Joyce Carol Oates
Sunday Enessi Ododo
Obododimma Oha
Michael O'Leary
Antonio Diaz Oliva
Wilson Orhiunu
Maris O'Rourke
Sue Orr
Wendy O'Shea-Meddour
María Claudia Otsubo
Ruth Padel
Ron Padgett
Thalia Pandiri
Judith Dell Panny
Hom Paribag
Lawrence Patchett
Ian Patterson
Georges Perros
Pascale Petit
Aleksandar Petrov
Mario Petrucci
Geoffrey Philp
Toni Piccini
Henning Pieterse
Robert Pinsky
Mark Pirie
David Plante
Nicolás Poblete
Sara Poisson
Clare Pollard
Mori Ponsowy
Wena Poon
Orest Popovych
Jem Poster
Begonya Pozo
Pauline Prior-Pitt
Eugenia Prado Bassi
Ian Probstein
Sheenagh Pugh
Kate Pullinger
Zosimo Quibilan, Jr
Vera V. Radojević
Margaret Ranger
Tessa Ransford
Shruti Rao
Irina Ratushinskaya
Tanyo Ravicz
Richard Reeve
Sue Reidy
Joan Retallack
Laura Richardson
Harry Ricketts
Ron Riddell
Cynthia Rimsky
Loreto Riveiro Alvarez
James Robertson
Peter Robertson
Gonzalo Rojas
Dilys Rose
Gabriel Rosenstock
Jack Ross
Anthony Rudolf
Basant Rungta
Joseph Ryan
Sean Rys
Jostein Sæbøe
André Naffis Sahely
Eurig Salisbury
Fiona Sampson
Polly Samson
Priya Sarukkai Chabria
Maree Scarlett
John Schad
Michael Schmidt
L.E. Scott
Maureen Seaton
Alexis Sellas
Hadaa Sendoo
Chris Serio
Resul Shabani
Bina Shah
Yasir Shah
Daniel Shapiro
Ruth Sharman
Tina Shaw
David Shields
Ana María Shua
Christine Simon
Iain Sinclair
Katri Skala
Carole Smith
Ian C. Smith
Elizabeth Smither
John Stauffer
Jim Stewart
Susan Stewart
Jesper Svenbro
Virgil Suárez
Lars-Håkan Svensson
Sridala Swami
Rebecca Swift
George Szirtes
Chee-Lay Tan
Tugrul Tanyol
José-Flore Tappy
Alejandro Tarrab
Campbell Taylor
John Taylor
Judith Taylor
Petar Tchouhov
Miguel Teruel
John Thieme
Karen Thornber
Tim Tomlinson
Angela Topping
David Trinidad
Kola Tubosun
Nick Vagnoni
Joost Vandecasteele
Jan van Mersbergen
Latika Vasil
Yassen Vassilev
Lawrence Venuti
Lidia Vianu
Dev Virahsawmy
Anthony Vivis
Richard Von Sturmer
Răzvan Voncu
Nasos Vayenas
Mauricio Wacquez
Julie Marie Wade
Alan Wall
Marina Warner
Mia Watkins
Peter Wells
Stanley Wells
Laura Watkinson
Joe Wiinikka-Lydon
Hayden Williams
Edwin Williamson
Ronald V. Wilson
Stephen Wilson
Alison Wong
Leslie Woodard
Elzbieta Wójcik-Leese
Niel Wright
Manolis Xexakis
Xu Xi
Gao Xingjian
Sonja Yelich
Tamar Yoseloff
Augustus Young
Soltobay Zaripbekov
Karen Zelas
Alan Ziegler
Ariel Zinder

 

President, Publisher & Founding Editor:
Peter Robertson
Vice-President: Glenna Luschei
Vice-President: Sari Nusseibeh
Vice-President: Elena Poniatowska
U. S. General Editor: Neil Langdon Inglis
London Editor/Senior Editor-at-Large: Geraldine Maxwell
New York Editor/Senior Editor-at-Large: Meena Alexander
Washington D.C. Editor/Senior
Editor-at-Large:
Laura Moser
Argentine Editor: Yamila Musa
Deputy Editor: Allen Hibbard
Deputy Editor: Jerónimo Mohar Volkow
Deputy Editor: Bina Shah
Advisory Consultant: Jill Dawson
General Editor: Beatriz Hausner
General Editor: Malvina Segui
Art Editor: Lara Alcantara-Lansberg
Art Editor: Calum Colvin
Deputy General Editor: Jeff Barry

Consulting Editors
Shanta Acharya
Marjorie Agosín
Daniel Albright
Meena Alexander
Maria Teresa Andruetto
Frank Ankersmit
Rosemary Ashton
Reza Aslan
Leonard Barkan
Michael Barry
Shadi Bartsch
Thomas Bartscherer
Susan Bassnett
Gillian Beer
David Bellos
Richard Berengarten
Charles Bernstein
Sujata Bhatt
Mario Biagioli
Jean Boase-Beier
Elleke Boehmer
Eavan Boland
Stephen Booth
Alain de Botton
Carmen Boullossa
Rachel Bowlby
Svetlana Boym
Peter Brooks
Marina Brownlee
Roberto Brodsky
Carmen Bugan
Jenni Calder
Stanley Cavell
Hollis Clayson
Sarah Churchwell
Marcelo Cohen
Kristina Cordero
Drucilla Cornell
Junot Díaz
André Dombrowski
Denis Donoghue
Ariel Dorfman
Rita Dove
Denise Duhamel
Klaus Ebner
Robert Elsie
Stefano Evangelista
Orlando Figes
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Shelley Fisher Fishkin
Peter France
Nancy Fraser
Maureen Freely
Michael Fried
Marjorie Garber
Anne Garréta
Marilyn Gaull
Zulfikar Ghose
Paul Giles
Lydia Goehr
Vasco Graça Moura
A. C. Grayling
Stephen Greenblatt
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Lawrence Grossberg
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Elizabeth Grosz
Boris Groys
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Benjamin Harshav
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François Hartog
Molly Haskell
Selina Hastings
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Valerie Henitiuk
Kathryn Hughes
Aamer Hussein
Djelal Kadir
Kapka Kassabova
John Kelly
Martin Kern
Mimi Khalvati
Joseph Koerner
Annette Kolodny
Julia Kristeva
George Landow
Chang-Rae Lee
Mabel Lee
Linda Leith
Suzanne Jill Levine
Lydia Liu
Margot Livesey
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Thomas Luschei
Willy Maley
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Marina Mayoral
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Jack Miles
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Azar Nafisi
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Robert Pinsky
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James Richardson
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Ritchie Robertson
Avital Ronell
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Daniel Shapiro
Sudeep Sen
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Susan Stewart
Rebecca Stott
Mark Strand
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John Whittier Treat
David Treuer
David Trinidad
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Lidia Vianu
Victor Vitanza
Marina Warner
David Wellbery
Edwin Williamson
Michael Wood
Theodore Zeldin

Assistant Editor: Sara Besserman
Assistant Editor: Ana de Biase
Assistant Editor: Conor Bracken
Assistant Editor: Eugenio Conchez
Assistant Editor: Patricia Delmar
Assistant Editor: Lucila Gallino
Assistant Editor: Sophie Lewis
Assistant Editor: Krista Oehlke
Assistant Editor: Siska Rappé
Assistant Editor: Naomi Schub
Assistant Editor: Stephanie Smith
Assistant Editor: Emily Snyder
Assistant Editor: Robert Toperter
Assistant Editor: Laurence Webb
Art Consultant: Verónica Barbatano
Art Consultant: Angie Roytgolz


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Gustavo Bossert
The Power of Prose:
The Altar
A Story By: Gustavo Bossert
Translated from the Spanish into the English by Peter Robertson
 

 

Being of a solitary disposition, I have ventured alone in my small boat to the most distant shores, but I had never before set foot on such a barren island. At the far ends of the yellow line of sand, the rocks appeared to have been rent asunder, as if by axes, and from the depths of the forest emerged raucous cries. The beach was littered with bitten-off fish cadavers, their crushed backbones the sole vestige of any former life. The dense canopy of trees cut off the skyline; but on looking up, I could make out spidersí webs that hung from the branches and mesmerizing eyes, perhaps those of birds or bats, that returned my stare fixedly.

As opposed to the colony of seagulls that had flown over my boat, looking in vain for scraps of food, I noticed one, far apart from the others, that lurched along the sand. Its plumage resplendent with a velvety sheen, I acknowledged that I had never before seen such a specimen. But, on closer inspection, I observed that this outlier, with one of its legs missing, fell far short of perfection.

Noting that a path led to the forest, I concluded that there must surely be people living nearby, and not white colonizers who had arrived from Europe, but no doubt autochthonous people with their own curious practices and customs.

I walked, weighed down by my rucksack, for more than an hour. The low-lying vegetation, running riot across the track, scratched my legs, but I finally arrived at a forest clearing. There before me lay an altar bedecked with wooden carvings of birds, wild beasts and a man-like figure, perhaps a local deity, his back wrapped in a cloak made from an animal skin, and with one leg missing.

More intrigued than ever by what I had seen, I could hardly wait to happen upon the island's main settlement.

On arriving there, I noted that the huts, makeshift in nature, had been cobbled together from straw, mud and wooden posts. The men, short but well-built, behaved as if they were well-disposed to me. But I did not understand a single word that was said, as they all spoke at once, and with the women uttering a stream of high-pitched gibberish. However, I discerned that while my arrival had prompted a general surprise, the voices that hailed me were welcoming.

Touching me, as if to reassure themselves that I was human, the islanders regaled me with fruit and water before offering me a hut with my own straw bed. I elected to spend a night there, or even two, the better to get to know these strangers. After all, this was the mainspring of my voyages: to see the world beyond the safety of my home, and the motley characters that peopled it.

Assailed by the aroma of wild flowers, I perceived not only that the leaves were gigantic and succulent, but that the grass grew unhindered in all parts, and even in my hut.

When the natives took me to a square and looked at me in silence, I surmised that it was the cue for me to speak.

They clearly did not understand any of my gist, but applauded me nonetheless. I could only imagine that my voice, more melodious than their own strident strains, was pleasing to them.

I felt sheepish, as if I were speaking to myself, and so I decided to break into song. The islanders listened to me receptively and, although they would occasionally exclaim something or other and burst into gales of laughter, nothing appeared to be amiss.

Some animals loitered among us: a pig, a creature that might well have been a cat although it was larger than any feline found in the city, and a cub, but I was at a loss to know if it was a tiger cub or the offspring of another wild species.

It did not prove difficult to sleep on the straw bed but after a few hours I was awakened by a noise, metallic and insistent, coming from nearby. Fumbling for my lighter, I saw that mammoth red ants ran all over the ground, carrying weeds, pieces of wood and leaves larger than their own bodies, while yet others devoured the biscuits they had found in my rucksack.

That morning, on leaving the hut, I found that a group of men was waiting for me. They touched my shoulder gently to make me understand that I was expected to go with them, leading me to a hinterland beyond the village where sown fields and fruit trees abounded.

Some of the men stretched their arms towards the forest, imitating the sound of roaring, while others, clutching their hands like claws, hit the air. The danger lurking nearby became all too apparent when the forest fauna, as if infuriated by the menís feeble parody, unleashed their feral clamor.

Returning to the settlement, I beheld a man, different from all of the others, larger in stature and with more refined features that were not entirely concealed by his thick white beard and the tangled mop of hair that covered part of his face. I could see that a large tiger skin hung from his back.

A plague of elderly viragos, sporting the same hideous appearance as all the beldams I had come across in the hamlet, surrounded the man, touching at will each part of his anatomy.

At first I thought that he looked at me with pity, but I later assumed that his expression was solely one of displeasure on account of such an onslaught by these crones, intent on molesting him.

When their quarry stood up to enter his hut, I witnessed that he had only one leg.

I determined that it was time for me to return to the coast but my hosts, having other plans, sat me down before a tree-trunk laden with fruit and meat. I sensed that if I refused to eat, I would offend them. Drinking a pungent juice, I was overcome by a desire to sleep for part of the afternoon.

I could not make head nor tail of the sequence of events but, before I knew it, I found myself beleaguered by a mob of lascivious hags, gabbling discordantly as they stroked me all over. I wondered if these were the selfsame women who had beset the man I had seen earlier that morning.

I could barely summon the strength to reject their advances, notwithstanding the disgust that they engendered, as one slattern after another drooled over me, taking hold of my manhood, by now erect only because of an ointment that was used, and pressing it into service until each of them was sated. Mounting my loins, one of the vixens laughed jubilantly, opening wide her toothless mouth.

Exhausted, I slept for not only the rest of the afternoon, but the whole night. I was besieged by nightmares, phantasmagoric as all dreams are, but on emerging from my slumber I recalled the withered harpies, the din that emanated from the forest, and the one-legged seagull that I had seen on the shore.

I got up, having resolved to return to my boat, even if to get there I had to use violence against the islanders.

It was certainly heedless on my part not to have brought any weapon with me. I can hold my own if I have to join battle with an adversary, but on leaving the hut I realized that I was outnumbered, finding myself confronted not only by all of the men, but also the harridans who had violated my dignity the day before.

In unison, they shouted exultantly. I stretched out my arms, to bid them adieu, but they gazed at me proprietorially, as if I were too precious to them for them ever to let me go.

I did all that I could to disengage myself, but the crowd, beaming knowing smiles as if they were about to bestow a surprise upon me, prevented me from inching forward.

And it was not long before their farewell gift was proffered to me: a magnificent tiger skin that they placed on my shoulders.

I expressed my thanks, that were met with a general hubbub of approval, before the islanders led me down the path towards the beach.

I was happy as I crossed the forest, returning as I was to my boat, to commune once again with the ocean, to behold each night with its infinite array of stars, and I was taking with me the tiger skin, a just reward for my preternatural restraint when set upon by the phalanx of hoary termagants.

The natives accompanied me, all the while singing, if I could with such a term exalt their grating chorus.

Every few steps, the old shrews pinched one of my arms, then one of my legs, and my buttocks. As one or other of them squeezed my unresponsive member, as if it were a trophy, I told myself that they could do as they wished, as all I cared about was to return once and for all to my boat.

We stopped in the forest clearing with its altar adorned with wooden carvings of birds, wild animals and a man-like deity perched on his only leg. Perhaps my retinue was about to dedicate a prayer to me to speed me on my way. I was led up to the altar.

I simply did not know what I was expected to do. Some of the men made me lift one of my legs.

An axe lay on the altar.



Read Peter Robertson's translation of Gustavo Bossert's story, "HOTEL"

The Power of Prose