2008

Gates of Reconciliation
Literature and the Ethical Imagination

Series Editor Frank Stewart
Guest Editor Barry Lopez

Enduring War
Stories of What We've Learned

Editor Frank Stewart

In this collection of essays, fiction, and poetry set in South America, Europe, Australia, the Middle East, Asia, the United States, and elsewhere, a diverse group of writers explores the role of literature in confronting the most pressing issue of our time: how individuals, communities, and nations can reconcile differences and grievances and forge a future with a renewed sense of dignity and mutual respect.

In these works, past and present conflicts — some resolved and some not — are illuminated by literature, uncovering the complexities, subtleties, gestures, and necessary deliberations of forgiveness and healing. The urgency of such deliberations is captured by guest editor Barry Lopez when he asks, "Who will heed the plea of Everychild for a less brutal future?"

Contributors to this volume are John Luther Adams, Aku Wuwu, Margaret Atwood, Christopher Cokinos, Jorge Edwards, Hwang Sun-Won, Barry Lopez, Taha Muhammad Ali, Alexis Nelson, Lydia Peelle, Samih al-Qasim, Santiago Roncagliolo, Davide Sapienza, Aharon Shabtai, Rebecca Solnit, Sasson Somekh, Lysley Tenorio, and Mark Tredinnick. Translators are Mark Bender, Peter Cole, Yahya Hijazi, Nazih Kassis, Peter H. Lee, Gabriel Levin, Laura Ponce, and William Tydeman.

Linda Connor contributes photographs of sacred sites around the world, and Kate Joyce an essay and selections from her "Threshold of Human Touch" project.

Extracts

Lanssiers listened to all those who spoke, and asserted that all the cases would be examined but that those who had committed violent crimes would not be freed. He did not say it in defiance. It was simply the truth. But he said it looking into the eyes of Comrade Ramiro and the other prisoners whose crimes he also knew. What caught my attention was the degree of respect Lanssiers manifested, even for these men, the murderers, as he fixed his eyes on their pupils. Later I would discover it was the same gaze he directed at policemen, functionaries, and attorneys. It was a blue gaze of stone that gave recognition to human beings. No more, no less.
from "The Dogs of Deng Xiao Ping" by Santiago Roncagliolo, translated by Luis Verano

Dorothy: I look out across the bay, the bay you consecrated with your body, on a too-warm February day. The few fishing boats left in the harbor are docked, held off from the stripped waters of Georges Bank. Another development is rising in the wetlands to the north. When you arrived, these waters were crowded with the gleaming backs of whales as they followed the innumerable cod, the plankton blooms, the teeming sea. Now, what are we left with? Or rather, what have we left to ourselves? What are we leaving those to come? What reason are we leaving for a child to stumble and fumble his or her way into this dangerous place? What promises
can we now make?
   I look out across the bay—your bay, Dorothy, in a way—and think, What wouldn’t I give for a new world. What wouldn’t I give for a promised land.
—from "Stellwagen Bank" by Lydia Peelle

The stories, essays, and poems in this volume render the effects of war in our time and the shadows they cast, from the Pacific campaigns of World War II to genocide under the Khmer Rouge to hostilities in the Middle East. Soldiers, however, are not in the foreground in most of these works. More often, the writers depict war as a destructive force on the lives of children, women, and other civilians, and capture the lasting, complex ways in which innocent individuals and communities are harmed.

Works such as those in Enduring War tell the truths that history and politics hide. We see that wars brutalize victors and vanquished alike, thus sowing the seeds for future conflict.

Authors are Chester Aaron, Yehuda Amichai, Ayukawa Nobuo, Vladislav Bajac, Shepherd Bliss, Ch'oe Yun, Peter Cole, Shmuel HaNagid, Leo Litwak, Sharon May, Naomi Shihab Nye, David Shulman, Tamura Ryuichi, Galsan Tschinag, Yumiko Tsumura, and Shahaduz Zaman. Translators are Sonia Amin, Peter Cole, Bruce Fulton, Benjamin and Barbara Harshav, Kichung Kim, Leza Lowitz, Randall Major, Shogo Oketani, and Katharina Rout.

Also in this issue are images from Darfur by Hawai‘i photographer Shinji Salmoiraghi and from Sardinia by Italian photographer Ferdinando Scianna.

A response from Kathy Phillips, professor of English at the University of Hawai‘i: "Thanks for putting together the fine issue of Enduring War. All the poems are excellent, with Amichai’s and Nye’s especially striking. The fiction 'Heartless Willy' and the excerpt from The Gray Earth are unforgettable, though it’d be more comfortable to hide them. I think I appreciated most David Shulman’s essay on Palestine. To see non-violent Israelis and Palestinians persisting in their brave, vulnerable, and tiny protest actions says something good about humans, and to me Shulman’s essay is very inspiring."

Extracts

My child, it's a war out there. Always a war, whatever the year, whatever the hour, whichever the continent. No matter how hard you try to escape it, and whatever defenses you put up, the smell of war seeps through the cracks in every door—you can't hide from it. It's a horrible smell, hard and sticky, and it cuts up the world in straight lines.
from "Whisper Yet " by Ch'oe Yun

"Madam, there is a terrible war raging outside, and I have been running for hours. Can you give me some water to drink?"
    She clapped her hands and cried out with joy,  
"War? Oh, what fun! Where?" She rushed to the window.
    From behind her, I saw that the procession outside had re-formed. Some people were shouting joyously, "Downfall!" while others were burning an effigy of the head of state.
from "The Story That Got Away" by Shahaduz Zaman

192 pp., summer 2008 (20:1), $20
ISBN 978-0-8248-3320-6

184 pp., winter 2008 (20:2), $20
ISBN: 978-0-8248-3378-7