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The New Year is traditionally a time for looking forward. We plan and reprioritise, making resolutions and setting our course for the year ahead. Those of us who keep a diary are literally opening the first page of a new book. The next year sits blank, waiting for us to fill it.
Litro #140 – Diaries – looks both backwards and forwards as it considers the uses that diaries and journals are put to, and the secrets they can share. They open a window onto the past in Shashi Tharoor’s Trying to Discover India, a story that explores the truth behind Christopher Columbus’s voyage of discovery. Columbus is in the process of being recontextualised by historians, and Cory Doctorow (@doctorow) recently referred to him as a “butcher/rapist/genocide” in a widely read tweet – there’s no better time to read Tharoor’s alternate version of his story. Claire Thurlow also explores the uses of the diary to the modern historian, in her short essay Much Bothered with Buffalo. She delves into the diaries and journals of the women who travelled America’s emigrant trails, and finds their stories candidly preserved in paper and ink.
The second half of this issue looks forward to days to come, with While He Sleeps by Ariel Dawn, a poetic piece of flash fiction that tries to imagine the subconscious communication between the pages of a diary and those written about within. Then James Mitchell opens the pages of a journal written in our dystopian future, in What Good Looks Like. Mitchell’s predictions for the direction our schools are taking feel eerily prescient, and should act as a timely warning. Finally, we chat with cult hero Chuck Palahniuk about the themes behind his bestselling novel Diary, his current love of sequels – and his plans for Fight Club 2. If you’ve been eagerly awaiting the return of Tyler Durden, you won’t want to miss this interview.
As for us, we’re also starting to plan our year ahead. 2015 marks Litro’s tenth year in print, and we have some exciting dates marked in our diaries already. We have the IGGY & Litro Young Writers’ Prize awards presentation taking place at a special event in London’s iconic Shard building this April. Also in April, we’ll be publishing our Mexico issue, celebrating the “Year of Mexico in the United Kingdom” and “Year of the United Kingdom in Mexico” – including some very special events at the London Book Fair. Then, as spring turns into summer, we’ll be launching our very first Litro anthology, a collection of the best stories to have passed through our pages during the last ten years. The book is being published in partnership with Kingston University Press, and includes stories by Nikesh Shukla, Chloe Aridjis, Anthony Doerr, Jenn Ashworth, Kate Williams, and many, many others. Start clearing space on your bookshelf now.
It’s little wonder that we still need diaries to organise our days, and to record our memories. If anyone stumbles across my diary in years to come, they’ll be certain of one thing: 2015 was a pretty good year.