Litro Desire: Editor’s Letter

Desire

There’s a sense of release about writing this Editor’s Letter because it means the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle is now in place. It means our hard work of putting together the whole magazine has paid off. It means the final checks are done, the end of countless rounds; it means we’re about to push the button and send it to the printers, it means we can pour ourselves a large glass of wine – a lot of wine and finally exhale! This has been the hardest, the most fun yet challenging edition we’ve ever produced. But in the end it has been worth it. This summer, after all the blood, sweat and tears, having clocked up more transatlantic air miles than I care to count, we’re delighted to launch our US edition, the sibling to the fourteen-years-old, but still going strong London, UK original. Litro US may be American accented but like its European original, it will aim to provide a platform for many and richly diverse voices, to be a vehicle I hope for ideas and truth and at least a bit of light, in what are from any outlook dark times.

The speaker for the 2019 Harvard Commencement ceremony Angela Merkel, who has been the chancellor of Germany for nearly fourteen years, recalled how as a young woman in what was then East Berlin, she walked toward the Wall each day on her way home from work. “At the last moment” she had to “turn away from freedom.” Though the Wall had fallen, Merkel said new ones were being built within societies and between nations. Democracy should not be “taken for granted,” but neither, she told the graduates, should people assume that they were powerless: “Let us surprise ourselves by showing what is possible.”

Bad times of course on either side of the pond. In the old country the fumbling attempt at economic and social suicide they call Brexit is a seemingly endless national humiliation, while here in the States there’s that erratic liar of an “extremely stable genius” and his “wall”, rising far-right nationalism and white supremacism, the opioid crisis, a fresh assault on abortion and LGBTQ+ rights … but it doesn’t all need rehearsing here. And so Litro USA’s opening theme is Desire, with a focus naturally on Desire as love – as romantic longing, sexual whether straight or LGBTQ+ – rather than Desire as greed, as the lust only for money or power that’s so corrupting our society right now. Love not hate, bridges not walls, hope not fear. So these stories – even the more out-there ones – and essays and art reflect that attitude, and reflect on and engage with these fraught times we live in.

We’ve increased the size of the magazine to give our contributors’ words more room to breathe and, especially, allow our art and photography – in this issue Noa Grayevsky’s cover and photo sequence, beautiful images of black faces, bodies, lives – the space they deserve and your eye needs to drink them in.

It would be impossible in this space to thank all those from over the past fourteen years who have turned a hobby and desire into what is now not only a full-time job but a transatlantic publication that would itself need its own edition – but for now I’d like to thank the Litro Media Inc board members: Robert J Reicher, Maria Salvatierra, Fiona Balch, Andre Des Rochers, Tess O’Dwyer, The whole of the Litro Team, Jim James DIT, Somerset House Trust, George Cox, Christine Bave, Brigita Butvila, Mark Moody Stuart, Nikki Barrow, Ocean Akoto, Elizabeth Serwah, Ajay Kumar, Sanjoy Roy, Carole Warren, Isabelle Dupuy, Alice Burnett.




Litro #173: Comedy

Dear Readers,

          This edition of Litro Magazine aims to bring a little brightness and laughter to dark times and winter months, with an edition of comedy. Not that comedy can’t be dark, of course; not that there’s no pain beneath the chuckles and comedy can’t tackle difficult subject matter. So there’s bad stuff too – violence and blackmail and oppression and poetry readings – in these stories and essays. Pleasingly against women-aren’t-funny stereotypes, though, eight of the issue’s ten contributors are women, and happily, there’s love in these pages too: between a middle-aged couple in Kathy Anderson’s “Welcome New Lesbians”; illicit love in a Jewish retirement community upsetting the family in Brandon French’s “Pop Goes the Weasel”; and in Kate Felix’s “Whereupon the World Rears Its Ugly Head”, a piece with a witty and unusual form, a courtroom stenographer puts her skills to unlikely use.

On the other hand, there’s not much love in Rachele Salvini’s “Breakfast with a Douchebag”, as an Italian in London navigates the morning after the night before in the run-up up to 2016 referendum. Anna Pook’s “Am Wife, Will Write” also plays with the form and definition of a true story. And Ross McClearly’s “Idea For A Poetry Show” isn’t exactly a story, either – and has more ideas than one. Finally there’s a Shakespearean tale of false prophets and sex and blackmail and usurping sons in Ernest O. Ogyunyemi’s “The New Messiah’s Son”.

The titles of this issue’s essays are introduction enough to their contents, especially for Mattison Merritt’s “I Screamed ‘Every White Man Should be Considered a Rapist Until Proven Innocent’ at a Halloween Party and Got Kicked Out”; and there’s overheard “Locker-Room Talk” in Maria Terrone’s piece of that name; while Krystin Santos’s “A Broke Girl’s Guide to Atlantic City” is an account of, to say the least, an interesting trip to that town.




Litro #172: Editor’s Letter

Dear Readers,

This issue of Litro Magazine explores Addiction – addiction and addicts and the hope or possibility of recovery. It’s a pressing concern for modern society – just look at the ongoing tragedy of the opioid crisis in the States – as we persist with prohibition even as we know it doesn’t work. Seems like everyone’s addicted to something: whether it’s merely caffeine or chocolate or tobacco, or whether it’s alcohol, or drugs from moreish prescription medications to legal highs to illicit substances from the softest weed to the hardest crack or smack…

But we’re also addicted to technology of one kind or another, to our tiny screens (maybe you’re reading this on one right now), to video games (the World Health Organisation recently added “gaming disorder” to the International Classification of Diseases), and of course to social media (follow us @LitroMagazine).

In this issue, a couple of stories are about wasted potential, about successful people or nearly successful people brought low by their addictions: “The Earth at Her Feet”, by Ishita Marwah, follows a girl’s evening with her aunt, a former small-time Bollywood actress now alcoholic; while Luke Mulia’s story is about a professional footballer once tipped as “the future England captain”, “d FEC”.

We have nonfiction too: “I Shall Not Want”, by Wendy Cobourne, is a personal revelation of addiction; and “The Body Is a Battlefield”, by Jenny Valentish – author of Woman of Substances: A Journey into Drugs, Alcohol and Treatment – explores how women feeling disempowered might choose substance use and other self-destructive behaviours to seize back control.

There’s also some brutal work from Rob True – “Back to White”, a short fiction – and Tabatha Stirling – extracts from a fictionalised memoir, Dust and Needles. Tabatha and Rob are contributors to A Wild and Precious Life: A Recovery Anthology, edited by Lily Dunn and Zoe Gilbert, which will be published by Unbound next year and is crowdfunding now. You can pledge to buy a book or support someone in recovery at https://unbound. com/books/recovery/. Fifty per cent of editors’ profits will go to St Mungo’s and Hackney Recovery Service.

Finally there’s an interview with Janelle Hanchett, author of the addiction memoir I’m Just Happy to Be Here and the blog Renegade Mothering; and “The 12 Steps”, a series of narrative art by Kelly Lyles bringing a personal face to addiction (the full series can be seen online at litro.co.uk/2018/09/the-12-steps/).




Litro #170: Editor’s Letter

This issue’s theme, “The Back of the Bus”, though fairly open to interpretation – the back of the bus might be where the cool kids sit on the way to school – inevitably calls to mind the American civil rights movement’s struggle against the injustices of racial segregation and one woman’s action to insist on a basic human right. It was only sixty-three years ago, on 1 December 1955, that Rosa Parks made history in Montgomery, Alabama by refusing to give up her seat for a white man and go sit in the segregated area of a bus. This act of defiance would change the course of American history and earn her the title “mother of the civil rights movement”.

Rosa Parks’ refusal led to her arrest, which triggered a 381-day boycott of the bus system, organised by a then little-known Baptist minister, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who would later go on to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his civil-rights work. The Montgomery bus boycott marked the start of the modern civil rights movement in the United States. The movement would result in the 1964 federal Civil Rights Act, which banned racial discrimination in public accommodations.

But within this month’s pages of Litro we have a bit of a mix: stories and essays more directly engaged with race and politics rub shoulders with stuff a bit more oddball. On the one hand, Kate LaDew’s “Jo Ann Robinson” is a creative nonfiction about the life and work of another great civil-rights activist; Paola Trimarco’s essay “The Broadway 36” remembers 1970s bus rides through what King had called “the most segregated city in America”; Rebecca Ruth Gould’s essay “Jim Crow in Jerusalem” explores parallels between racial segregation in modern-day occupied Palestine and Israel and in Jim Crow America; and LaMarr Thomas’s short story “A Harsh Spring Light” is about the pain and humiliation a black high-school senior is made to feel during history lessons about America’s greatest sin. All these explicitly political pieces sit in comfortable contrast alongside stranger stories like Jonathan Covert’s “We Pick Karen”, an unusual take on office politics, envy and competition, or Elizabeth de la Forêt’s “Don’t Google Me”, in which a fifty-one-year-old woman comes unexpectedly into her heyday. Chris Di Placito’s “Animal Kingdom” follows a guy just released from prison on his bus journey back into freedom – or is it freedom? – and Han Smith’s elliptical “Reproduction Furniture” explores the aftermath of a horrible but everyday encounter on a bus. In a story set in Nigeria, “The Fulani Damsel”, by Jeff Unaegbu, the narrator impulsively jumps off the bus and into another culture, to be entranced by it; and, returning to the theme we started at, in an exclusive extract from Michael Nath’s forthcoming novel The Treatment, about a fictionalised version of the Stephen Lawrence murder, a woman police officer goes undercover in a gang of racists.

And for another culture and perspective, our cover and photo series this month is “Life in Kashmir from a bus stop”, by Lauren Stewart.




Litro #166: After Dark | Editor’s Letter

Litro Magazine’s November 2017 issue is filled with stories about what goes on after darkness has fallen, when we think no one’s watching, or after-hours, when everything’s shut. Secrets and shady stuff, illicit activity, or things more magical: the store mannequins come to life, elves appear to do the poor shoemaker’s work (but not the poor writer’s, alas) .. or scarier stuff, too: the vampires and ghouls and zombies and werewolves come out to play, and to eat us all up.

So as the NHS goes into its winter crisis, as the Little Match Girl freezes to death in the darkness, along with so many others, as we enter this darkest time of year with only some ancient pagan rites involving mistletoe and alcohol to see us through to the spring, we have in these pages a movie shot in the night in Robin Dunn’s “Black Moon”, actors too in Viviane Vives’s “The Lit Window”, some disturbing late-night encounters in Chinwe O’Brien’s “The Beautiful Coffin”, a bizarre transformation in Susanna Crossman’s “Wild Things, or The Law of Superposition”, a summer evening’s mushroom-fuelled party going wrong in Regi Claire’s “Fallen Maidens”, some even less expected late-night visitants in Lucie Britsch’s “Night Sharks 2”, and a newlywed’s sleeplessness driving her out into the night in Allyson Fairchild’s “Triadic”.

We hope you enjoy these stories: something to warm you just a teeny bit, something to while away a few minutes while we wait for the long-overdue collapse of civilisation – speeded up by Brexit and Trump, of course – to take us into a new, and this time endless, Dark Age.




Litro #165: Chloe Aridjis: Guest Editor’s Letter

We are living at a time when borders and frontiers – dividing lines of all sorts, both geographical and ideological – form part of everyday discourse. It is a time of mass migration and countless individual ones. In Latin America some borders are more fraught than others. Litro invited authors from eight of its countries to write about their own experience of boundaries, real and imagined, resulting in a bold array of poetry, fiction and essay.

Rafael Gumucio, who also moonlights as a comedian in Chile, offers a playful account of an English class and the tensions and camaraderie that inevitably arise when different nationalities share the same space. In fragments of trenchant prose, his compatriot Lina Meruane tells a real tale of child refugees, setting their fate against the ominous spectre of bird flu. Alejandro Jodorowsky, cult filmmaker, and Tarot card wizard, presents a bleak poem, heavy in apocalyptic tone and imagery.

From Mexico we have Guadalupe Nettel, whose experience of borders began as a child and became thornier over time, courtesy of immigration officials in France and the United States, leading to the realization that the most difficult border of all to overcome is prejudice. Anglo-Mexican poet Kenneth Bostock’s training as an architect can be seen in his experimentation with form and linguistic angles. Natalia Toledo, a Zapotec poet from Oaxaca, creates images that evoke the sense of vulnerability and impermanence that haunts indigenous cultures whose very survival is increasingly threatened.

Julio Paredes (Colombia) is also a translator of Edgar Allan Poe and William Faulkner; his own work bears traces of that psychological complexity and conflicted habitation of space. Eduardo Sánchez Rugeles from Venezuela captures the tremendous anguish felt by the younger generations as they witness the gradual breakdown of civil society. His cri du cœur for his afflicted country feels more urgent than ever. In her narrative triptych, Claudia Salazar Jiménez (Peru) moves through female domestic interiors as well as museum space, demonstrating how most boundaries are more than mere wall.

From Cuba we have Yoss, who straddles the worlds of science fiction and heavy metal; here he takes the concept of borders to absurdist extremes, envisioning a wild scenario whereby crossing from one country into another teleports you to a third, distant location. Jorge Enrique Lage’s narrative, meanwhile, covers a 45-minute flight from Havana to Miami, his journey accompanied by personal musings on Cuban literature, a literature tightly entangled with the nation’s history and geography.

Carlos Fonseca Suárez (Costa Rica/Puerto Rico) offers the tale of an anthropologist and the fixed idea that drove him to insanity; fear of the other becomes a vehicle for a cultural exploration of sickness and solitude. We also include an interview Carlos conducted with Miriam Gómez, the widow of Guillermo Cabrera Infante, a dialogue that opens many windows onto the exiled life of the great Cuban writer in London; from his desk he resurrected his native Havana, but he also drew inspiration from local literary and cinematic history.

Brazil offers us three very different voices: Michel Laub’s brief, enigmatic text is a hymn of disillusion while hinting at the narrator’s own complicated backstory, while Fernanda Torres explains the need, current and historical, to draw boundaries around oneself, leading to her decision to acquire a bulletproof car. Antônio Xerxenesky’s essay can be read as a coda to our issue, a meditation on the multifaceted relationship between writing and borders.

Where does the self end, where does the rest of the world begin? For the writer who remains at home or the writer who goes abroad, the issue of boundaries remains vital, adding tension to our daily existence, defining the ways in which we relate to others. All our authors have added to the ongoing conversation. And on a final note, I would like to extend a very special thanks to the talented translators who worked on this issue. Their mission, a particular kind of border crossing, is much appreciated.




Letter from the editor: Litro #164: Senses

Our July issue takes a break from the more explicitly political stuff of June’s Alternative Facts issue, though politics will return – as if it’s ever absent from the times we live in! – in November’s Protest-themed issue (currently open for submissions).

For this issue, we sought sensual stories for a heady summer issue – gorgeous vistas (or eyesores), sweet scents (or foul stenches), delicious flavours (or ones that make you retch), melodious (or discordant) sounds, a loving touch or one less tender … but much good writing thrives on its sensory and telling details, and this was a very open theme, really, that attracted a lot of entries and allowed other themes to emerge.

Memory, for instance: in “Taiki-chū no chinmoku (The Silence of Waiting)”, by Alison McBain; an old woman remembers as her senses fade; and an old woman remembers her childhood too in Lilian Faschinger’s “Ice on the Lake” (translated by Geoffrey Howes). Meanwhile, in creative nonfiction, our writers themselves remember: Sherry Mendelson’s “Night on the Hill” is a memoir of childhood rebellion; while “Animal”, by Brianna Bjarnson, is about a life’s love of animals – dogs, horses, birds, goats, dogs – with perhaps other undercurrents too.

There’s slightly stranger work in Amy Crosby’s flash fiction “Oasis”, Charlie Keyheart’s “The New Victorians”, and Douglas J. Ogurek’s “They’re Just … Here”, in the last of which there are watchful aliens among us – and, for the eye, there’s some varied visual art, by Anna Martin, Trevin Wyant, Nelly Sanchez, and Ashley Parker Owens.




Letter from the editor: Litro #163: Alternative Facts

Lies, damned lies, alternative facts.

Oscar Wilde, in his essay “The Decay of Lying”, bemoaned the decline of mendacity as a fine art, complaining that even politicians “never rise beyond the level of misrepresentation, and actually condescend to prove, to discuss, to argue”. This isn’t the case anymore, if it ever really was, but an aesthete like Wilde could hardly be pleased by the lie as wielded, which such blundering crassness, by today’s right-wing politicians.

Disinformation is for dictatorships, banana republics and failed states, right? Yet America is now governed by a president and a party that fundamentally don’t accept the idea that there are objective facts; instead, they want everyone to agree that reality is whatever they say it is. Shortly after Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the United States’ forty-fifth president, his press secretary, Sean Spicer, used his first appearance to throw what would become a series of curve balls, by putting forth debunked information that questioned the media’s reporting on the size of the president’s inaugural audience (it had in fact been a relatively small crowd for an absolutely tiny, tiny man). Kellyanne Conway would go on the US political TV show Meet the Press to clumsily defend Spicer’s and Trump’s blatant untruths about the crowd’s size as simply “alternative facts” – the phrase joining “fake news” and “post-truth” as hallmarks of our times. All our political lives – and what’s not political? – are increasingly directed, if not determined, by the lie. Fake news misleads while the truth gets dismissed by fake news by those to whom the truth is inconvenient. That Toddler-in-Chief across the Atlantic is a continual, shameless liar; the Brexit referendum was won by lies (the mythical £350 million a week for the NHS, etc.); and Theresa May’s cynically opportunistic general election this month … well, she kept repeating the phrase “strong and stable government” until it became too obvious an untruth (she showed her weakness by refusing to debate Jeremy Corbyn, her governments’ weakness in its social care policy U-turns, etc.) – and she does seem given to moronic mantras, first “Brexit means Brexit”, then “strong and stable”. So it’s heartening to see her poll lead narrow, and the likelihood diminish of her getting the landslide victory she hubristically reckoned was in the bank.

But then again, Litro Magazine is in the business of using fiction and the story to explore the zeitgeist – though isn’t fiction all just lies? “OH, FUCK ALL THIS LYING!” B.S. Johnson exclaims in Albert Angelo (the novel with a famous hole in its pages, which itself turns out to be kind of a lie), breaking the fourth wall to address the reader directly, as himself: “I’m trying to say something not tell a story telling stories is telling lies and I want, to tell the truth…” But Johnson was wrong – in his cynicism he was naïve – and good fiction isn’t lies; it’s not even truth-in-lies. It’s metaphorical, doesn’t try to fool anyone, it’s a way of getting at deeper truths. And it’s time to insist on the truth – maybe we are living in a post-truth era, steered by the lies of dishonest or unfeeling politicians, right-wing media, and big corporations – but maybe also we can find a better way.

In this issue of Litro Magazine, Calder Lorenz’s “Writing in the Realm of Alternative Facts” tackles the fiction writer’s problem of having to write “lies” while everything else is being corrupted by lies. Brent van Staalduinen, in “Hard Sell”, a hybrid of fiction and creative nonfiction, explores five stories rotating around a landmark tragedy, a real one, occurring on a single fateful day; while Victoria Briggs, in “The Last Brown Rat of Nagasaki”, offers a beyond-improbable tale that’s no less about the truth of what it’s like to be human. War runs through both these stories, as it does, more obliquely, through Q. Lei’s transgressive “The Operation”. M. René Bradshaw’s “Tigre” takes us on a trip to Latin America; Suchana Seth, in “The Storyteller”, makes her own that ultimate teller-of-tales, Scheherazade of the 1001 Nights; while the truth is rawer in Claire Polder’s personal essay about abuse, “Con Artists”.

And finally, we have three pieces about that unavoidable monster of alternative fact: Adjie Henderson’s “The Inaugural Address”, and two artworks, Amy Gilvary’s “Trump in B&W” and Sarah Kaizar’s “Again and again”.

Our cover artist this month is Veronika Gilková a Slovakian photographer. Her photos are mainly portraits with a dreamy atmosphere and have been featured in several magazines about art and lifestyle.




Litro #162: A Literary Highlife | Foreword

Dear Reader,

Every year, Litro publishes international editions focusing on a different parts of the globe. In 2016, we had an issue dedicated to Cuba, and one highlighting South Asian writing in English; we featured young voices like Aatish Taseer alongside established writers and artists like Shehan Karunatilaka and Coco Fusco.

As 2017 marks Ghana’s sixtieth birthday, our latest World Series installment, Literary Highlife, seeks to celebrate Ghana by inviting its neighbour Nigeria to join the party – we explore the literary and cultural landscape of both countries.

Our issue’s title comes from ‘highlife’, a kind of popular music from Ghana that began early in the twentieth century and blended traditional Akan musical rhythms with European military band instruments imported under colonialism. It spread, and still influences current Ghanaian and Nigerian afrobeats, and other forms of music, today.

We can’t dedicate an issue to celebrating Ghana’s sixtieth year without taking a look into its past. In 1957, Ghana – till then the Gold Coast – became the first British African colony to be granted independence, ending centuries of colonial rule. It was a peaceful transition, and inspired other states to follow suit, with the federation of Nigeria forming just three years later. Today Ghana is peaceful, free from the civil strife and terrorism that affects it neighbours.

Ghana had been at the centre of the slave trade until it was abolished in the early 1800s. It was called the Gold Coast, of course, because of the huge amounts of gold found there. This gold was protected by forts, built by the Dutch and British along the five-hundred-kilometre coastline between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries, that served as trading posts as well as keeping the foreign settlers safe from their rivals and from threats from the African population. The forts were carefully placed as links in the trade routes, and were attacked, taken over, exchanged, sold and finally abandoned during the almost four centuries of struggle between European powers for domination over what would one day be Ghana.

In the 1500s, as demand grew for human labour in the New World, the focus shifted from the gold to the people. After being built to store gold, ivory and other such plunder, the forts now imprisoned slaves before they were transported across the Atlantic – human beings reduced to just another commodity to be bought, sold, used. Ghana’s breath-taking coastline

St George’s castle

was lined with dark dungeons, overflowing with misery and despair, right up until the slave trade was eventually abolished. It’s estimated that up to six million slaves had been shipped to other countries.

Today these coastal castles have been transferred to the Ghana Museum and Monuments Board, and they are among the most well-visited historical sites in the region. President Barack Obama chose Ghana for his first official visit to Africa.

In keeping with our ethos of giving a platform to emerging international writers, I invited the poet Inua Ellams to team up with me in editing this issue – which covers topics such as the underlying rivalry between Ghana & Nigeria- and how that rivalry is perceived by others.
We first published Inua’s work in November 2010, in Litro #93, the Climate issue, which sought to explore the place of story, even of fiction, in debates about climate – sadly a conversation that seems to have spiralled backwards, with the most powerful leader of the so-called free world denying climate change’s very existence, despite the backdrop of seasoned scientists and thinkers attesting otherwise.

From Climate Change to History – the story, and in fact fiction, will always continue to have a place in our cultural zeitgeist.

We’ll continue to use fiction and the story to explore the many pressing topics of our times. Litro’s next issue, themed on Alternative Facts, has suddenly become even more topical than it already was with Theresa May’s – cynically opportunistic? You think? – snap general election on 8 June, but we follow that in July with what might be a more soothing, sensual issue of heady summer stories, themed on The Senses. The Senses issue, and all those following it, are still open for submissions of short stories and creative nonfiction – see our website for guidelines. After the August break we’re back in September with a trip south of that grotesque promised wall, to Latin America, and then in October, in time for Halloween, we take a look at what goes on After Dark, After Hours: secrets and shady stuff, or things more magical – the store mannequins come to life, elves appear to do the shoemaker’s work… Things get political again after that – as if they’re ever not – in our Protest issue in November, because these are for sure the times to make our voices heard, to speak truth to power. And finally we’ll wind up the year in December with a look into Faith & Faithlessness of all different sorts – is this a time for belief, or for scepticism?

Lastly, while it is obviously impossible for a small selection of this kind to represent the diverse voices writing in Ghana and Nigeria today, it is interesting to note that, months after the selection for these pages was made, first time novelist Ayobami Adebayo was shortlisted for an important literary prize Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction – with a winner yet to be announced.

We will be celebrating the editions launch with a special weekend extravaganza 25th – 28th May taking over Waterstones Piccadilly London & it’s Tottenham Court branch, I hope you will join us to help in celebrating this special edition. Further details can be found here.

Eric Akoto

Eric Akoto




Litro #160: Changes: Letter from Editor

 

 Dear Reader, Leo Tolstoy said, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
We have a resistance to change, whether it’s beneficial or not – we are programmed to resist change. People fear the un- known and would rather stick to the status quo, even if it’s harmful. The suffering may provide a meaning or purpose for one’s life.

As George Bernard Shaw said, “ Those who cannot change their minds can not change anything.” Staying the same is a comfortable choice, even when change is necessary. As a result, we become comfortable in our misery. Many have attributed the cur- rent political shift to the right and the embrace in many countries of nationalism as a resistance to globalization and the changes that come with it. Rather than lowering borders and embracing the changes required, the western world is currently shifting back to the dark old days of fear and nationalism. What with Brexit, the rise of Trump and the alt-right (where “alt” is code for neo and “right” for Nazi), etc., it doesn’t look a whole lot like things will be changing for the better any time soon. We all too often fear change which – along with nationalism, sheer racism, whatever – driving a lot of anti-immigration feeling.

Perhaps change for the better will come once we accept these changes, process them. en as a society we will be better focused on fighting it?

This month’s collection of stories is not explicitly political – though there is a distant glimpse of the States’ current presidential plight in Taylor García’sWheel of Fortune”. Change is what fiction – usually, traditionally – deals in: personal, psychological change – a fictional character is meant to come out of the other end of a story slightly different from what he or she was at the start, through some modest epiphany or moment of truth, some kind of emotional arc. Change is also tied to time – you can’t really have one without the other – and the biggest change, of course, coming to each of us far sooner than we’d like – final, total, the end of our personal time – is death. We could easily have made this an issue themed entirely on Death. Kathy Stevens’sOlives” deals with loss, and Nancy Ludmerer’sA Bohemian Memoir” offers a unique perspective on the changes that time can bring. Both time and death figure in Eden Summerlee’s strange sort of science fiction fable,ootd” – set in the distant but may- be not-distant-enough-for-comfort future, when everything’s changed, while still reflecting our own changeable reality.

We close the issue with a photo story from Thailand-based photographer Dax Ward whose images capture beauty where only ugliness remains.

Our team player this month is Elina Nikkinen!

Every- thing that is will change, and the changed will change further. Hence, one must neither get at- attached to joy, because that will pass away; nor get depressed with sorrow, because that too will pass away. Nothing is really permanent in this world. – Buddha.

 You can read a taster of the issue online or to read this month’s issue in the comfort of your arm chair, why not order your copy today for as little as £6.00.




Litro #156: India: Letter from Editor: The Indian Diaspora

 Dear Reader,
No other country has anything like it—an annual jamboree of its diaspora, conducted with great fanfare by its government. India has been doing it, with great success, for thirteen years now, timed to recall the return to India of the most famous Indian expatriate of them all, Mahatma Gandhi, who alighted from his South African ship in Bombay on 9 January 1915. Each January, a selected Indian city overflows with expatriate Indians celebrating their connection to their motherland at a grand Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (Expatriate Indians’ Day).

India is the only country that has an official acronym for its expatriates—NRIs, or Non-Resident Indians. In my book India: From Midnight to the Millennium, I suggested, only half-jokingly, that the question is whether NRI should stand for ‘Not Really Indian’ or ‘Never Relinquished India.’ Of course, the nearly 25 million people of Indian descent who live abroad fall into both categories. But the nearly 2000 delegates who flock to India from over sixty countries for each Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (or PBD, as our bureaucracy has inevitably abbreviated it) are firmly in the latter camp. They come to India to affirm their claim to it.

The ease of communications and travel today enables expatriates to be engaged with India in a way that was simply not available to the plantation worker in Mauritius or Guyana a century ago. To tap into this sense of allegiance and loyalty through an organized public gathering was an inspired idea, which India continues to build upon each year.

Sometimes the real value of a conference, however, lies in the conferring. Indians have learned to appreciate how much it means to allow NRIs from all over the world the chance to share their experiences, celebrate their commonalities, exchange ideas, and swap business cards. Because when India allows its pravasis to feel at home, India itself is strengthened. I can think of one more meaning of NRI: the National Reserve of India.

Emigration – both of transported colonial-era prisoners and indentured labour, as well as some voluntary fortune-hunters – created an Indian diaspora in South-east Asia, Africa and the West Indies. The experience of passage was not pleasant. To be an indentured Indian labourer transported to the Caribbean on British ships was to enter a life-and-death lottery in which your chances of survival were significantly worse than to be a shackled African slave. The cultural result of this tragic experience, though, was the creation of a common sorrow-filled bond between slavery-induced and indentured labour. The ‘Brotherhood of the Boat’ became the subject of poetry, shared folklore and above all music that persists to this day. Literature has at last followed.

This expatriate “reserve” has also added profoundly to the rich storehouse of Indian literature, as Indians in the diaspora have written in various ways of their connections to their homeland and their new lands. The diaspora in the US and the UK have already become well-enough known, ever since the publication of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children in 1981, when a new and ancient land imposed itself on the world’s literary consciousness — a land whose language and concerns have stretched the boundaries of the possible in English literature. A generation of post-colonial Indian writers has brought a larger world — a teeming, myth-infused, gaudy, exuberant, many-hued and restless world — past the immigration inspectors of English literature.
But those writing in and of the global South have received relatively short shrift in our focus on diasporic Indian literature. It is time this was redressed, and that is why this issue of Litro focuses particularly on India and the global south. In short essays, stories and poems, Indian writers dislocated from their national and cultural moorings explore aspects of the expatriate experience.

They are, I suppose, NRIs with a difference – Newly Readable Indians.




Litro #155 | Movement: Letter from the Editor

Litro #155: Movement Cover
Dear Reader,

The word Homonym, is a Latin name which is identical to that of a different organism, the newer of the two names being invalid. Our theme Movement this month is just that a Homonym.

The word Movement conjures up the oft-used- clichéd saying: the simple things are often the most important things.

Restricted the simple act of Movement has so many life threatening consequences. Fully enabled and the mere act of Movement will lead to a good and healthy life this applies to the individual and to the collective Masses – whether formed for a Movement or gathered together fleeing a place once called home.

If my parents had not had the opportunity to move, perhaps I would not be here today telling you, I’m Londoner!

Life is a process of Movement, from the simple act of breathing more to allow a more conscious life in disciplines such as yoga and meditation to the act of moving people from one place to another for survival, prosperity, discovery or simply an adventure.

Europe continues to grapple with the influx of refugees -many fleeing war-torn homes to seek refuge elsewhere. As I write this, Italy today announced the largest rescue of its shores of Refugees fleeing Libya some 6,500 have been rescued off the coast of Libya with an estimated 40 co-ordinated rescue missions taking place a stretch of 12 miles of the Libyan town of Sabratha- an occurrence that for our generation has become – what seems to be the daily norm – all played out in the backdrop of our relevant movements from summer beach retreats and last minute retreats for the summer. Refugees have been seeking safe haven in the West for years. Recently, however, something has changed. Thousands have become millions, as nation after nation succumbs to Movements towards anarchy and fanaticism. There is no doubting we live in the era of civil wars -now taking place in Islamic countries from Nigeria to Pakistan – this is why the many thousands has turned into millions.

Like the organism, Movement in this issue takes different forms from one story to the next. For this issue we asked our readers to inspire and captivate us with compelling stories around Movement – the selection below has been chosen from over 300 submissions and all do just that -captivate and inspire us!

We open with The Sum of Our Misfortunes by Catherine McNamara speaks of the Senegalese experience in today’s Florence.

In her Essay, Borders, Catherine Temma Davidson looks at race, culture and the limits of perspective.

We move into the collective masses forming to make a movement with We share the floor, Sarah Raine’s essay inspired by Alfred Shutz’ 1951 article, ‘Making Music together’– looks at the making of music through the ‘northern Soul’ Dance movement, a movement that emerged independently in Northern England, the Midlands, Scotland and Wales from the British mod scene and the underground rhythm & soul of the late 1960s.

Journalist Matt Broomfield, gives us The Oldman becomes brave, a story looking at the individual as one man slowly and contemplatively moves towards various ways of ending his life.

In Crossing the Wake, Cindy A. Littlefield, tells a story of a young girl coming to terms with the death of her mother.

Kelly Craig, moves our pages to Las Vegas, in her tale Driving South on Any Road, a story that seeks to engage with the complexity and richness of Las Vegas as a setting.

We close the issue with The Walk, an autobiographical piece by Kara Dennision, focusing on her experiences with endometriosis. For many years her movement was extremely limited by illness and the mere act of walking without pain, let alone running or jumping, feels like a strange and miraculous achievement.

We hope enjoy the collection of stories in this issue, and until next month, when we wonder East: with the next installment of our World Series: India guest Edited by Shashi Tharoor.

Come help celebrate the Launch of Litro Magazine’s India edition: Shashi will be joining us in London on October 13th, as we return to take over Waterstones Piccadilly with a special Indian themed evening of talks, debates, music and more.we have the usual blend of talks, readings and Live music from some of today’s leading writers, artists and musicians from India including dance performances from the award-winning dance troupe  Absolute Bollywood and much more.

You can reserve tickets for the special India World Series Launch here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




Litro #154: Letter from the Guest Editor

litro155_coverDear Reader,

Fiction can comfortably contain ambiguity; its flesh and blood creations can make no sense, contradict themselves, and in be- ing fully human, represent experience to us in ways that opinion or analysis can not.

In the West, Cuba has become a state of mind more than a real place, a can- vas onto which people paint their ideologies and dreams. How to commission an issue of Litro that speaks of Cuba, without choosing a point of view? How to contain the multiple voices that claim her? In editing Litro Cuba I have been fortunate to work with some of today’s finest Cuban writers of fiction—both on and off the island—whose work placed side by side offers a mosaic of experience, a truer representation of reality than any single point of view could do.

These are all Cuban voices, to which I have added an outsider’s perspective— one story from my own collection, Breathe, published this year in London by flipped eye, which I wrote while living in Cuba be- tween 2000 and 2006.

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo’s Havana Hemicrania was written during the never-ending nights of his first, exiled, winter in Reykjavik. He was missing the excess of light in Cuba. He was missing the excess of language. He was missing the violence of the Revolution as the measure of all things, including love and the loss of love. Detained in Cuba three times for his political activism, Luis Pardo was now free, yet held in time, memory and nightmare. Exile’s lacerating pain—the further he is from Cuba the more he feels her—is expressed in his story’s scream.

In Losing Twice, leading Cuban short story writer Aida Bahr takes us to Santiago, in Cuba’s East, where she makes her home. We are in the ‘80s, Cuba’s gold- en age, before the loss of Soviet subsidies, economic collapse and the Special Period of the following decade. Food is cheap, mostly ration-free; people take holidays and buy consumer goods. Bahr’s is a con dent Cuba, her narrator an emancipated, revolutionary woman, looking to rekindle old love.

Portugal-based Karla Suarez was a leading figure in the Cuban arts scene before her departure in the late 1990s. Ravings is a voice from the Special Period itself—the ‘90s, when economic crisis disrupted and re-formed Cuban society. The dollar began to circulate alongside the Cuban peso, and the country was divided into those who had dollars, and those who did not. Suarez’s fevered voice is that of an older generation, revolutionaries who had worked to build a society that the ‘90s shattered. Set at the end of that decade, the story is a sneak-preview of what was to come.

In Someone’s Stolen the Cockatiels, Havana resident Dazra Novak, one of Cuba’s strongest young voices, shows us the Cuba of today. Novak’s Cuba is a place of harsh economic necessity where people concern themselves most with practical things. Material problems weigh heavily and people dream less. Within this difficulty, though, Novak’s characters can find happiness for no reason.

Luca’s Trip to Havana, my own story, brings us to the early 2000s; the power of the dollar is all too apparent and tourism, an economic necessity accepted with reluctance by the state, has exacted a high price. Luca, a European businessman, lusts after a young Cuban employee at his Havana hotel—the power differential between visitor and Cuban creates complex dynamics and the potential for mutual exploitation.

Ihoeldis M. Rodriguez’s two flash fiction pieces, How to Play and Last Wish, were conceived in Cuba and written in Miami, where he has lived for the last year. Both describe characters caught in an absurd situation, which ultimately condemns them.
But with neither piece located in any geographical or literary place, Rodriguez leaves us guessing: is it life in Cuba, or in ‘La Yu- ma’ (the U.S.) that is absurd.

Cuban-American artist and writer Coco Fusco explores the intersection between art and activism in her essay Taste as a Political Matter, while Havana poet Omar Pérez discusses improvisation in Off the Page. Geandy Pavon contributes a series of photographs on displacement and longing, The Cuban-Americans; and our Q&A is with Cuban classical guitarist Ahmed Dickinson Cárdenas, on bridging cultures.

Litro Cuba comes at a moment when interest in Cuba high, as the world watches the drama of change unfolding there. Cuba stubbornly holds onto the hearts of those who have left her, but for those who remain, the struggle is most of all to make sense of an uncertain, rapidly changing landscape. I hope that the following pages will allow you to join them on their journey.

Leila Segal

Guest Editor




Litro #153: Letter from the Editor

litro153_coverDear Reader,

We often read reports of how AI (Artificial Intelligence) is fast replacing humans in the workplace. In fact, many companies are increasingly having to grapple with decisions as to when or if even at all human contact is necessary or required with customers.

In journalism autogenerated narrative is becoming the norm —with companies such as Narrative Science generating news reports covering anything from finance to sports. The company Automated Insights, for example, has made their platforms publicly available, allowing anyone to have the potential to have their own team of robotic writers—with little or no programming knowledge.

Every November for the past three years, programmers are invited to take part in the “National Novel Generation Month” (NaNo GenMo) inspired by the popular National November Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). NaNoGenMo came about from a post tweeted on a whim by its developer and artist Darius Kazemi.

The stories gathered in this issue are very much the creation of humans. Our cover art this month is titled the “Amna, Student” by American—Muslim Artist Saba Taj from her “Technicolor Muslimah” series from 2011. Saba says of her work: “Even though it’s just art, it’s contributing to a dialogue that is happening on a lot of different levels. Connecting Islamophobia, and battling against that, to self-identifying as a feminist to becoming more involved in activism across the board, and the process of really getting deep into consciousness building dialogue has really informed my work and taken it to new places. It’s something that is specific to Islam and always has been because that’s where I’m coming from. How do we go to those difficult places? And I think art is a wonderful vehicle for doing that.”

We open the issue with Torrie White’s Cassia County Fair, as Caroline Understands it, a story about that very human experience of love and rejection. A young girl’s attempts to impress a boy lead to unwanted attentions from another and her first experience of the affects of alcohol abuse.

In Home Coming, Cathy Thomas gives a tale of guilt and the consequences of infidelity, as a wife struggles to discipline her teenage daughter (whose party gets out of hand) on returning home to a wrecked house from a weekend with another man.

Regi Claire’s Resurrecting Mr Jingles, shows how a Berlin art curator finds and keeps a house mouse as a pet, only to be accused of animal cruelty by an animal rights activist.

Why I Hate Selkie Stories, by Singapore-based writer Sarah Ang, is the winning story from our 2016 young writiner’s competition. At 16 Sarah Ang’s handling of themes of loss and abandonment is done with great sensitivity while exploiting the ancient legend in a highly original and engrossing manner.

Maria Terrone’s Beauty, Truth and Gloves is the first of two personal essays, about a young woman’s obsession with gloves—leading her to discover like-minded souls in the Worshipful Company of Gloves of London, which traces its origins to the Royal Charter of King James I.

Vikram Kapur gives us our second personal essay in Dead Fathers, an essay about a young Indian student in America, who grapples with keeping his traditional father happy whilst try ing to fit into his new western surroundings.

We end with an interview from writer Niyati Keni—who sits down with winning multi-award-winning author Jane Rogers to discuss nerves, the writing process and more. Jane Rogers’ awards include the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the Somerset Maugham Award, and the Samuel Beckett Award. She has also been nominated for the IMPAC and BAFTA and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize.




Litro #152: Letter from the Editor

litro152_cover_banner-minDear Reader,

Welcome to the first of this year’s Litro World Series: Litro #152: the Sweden issue.

Litro has always been a keen promoter of out standing fiction in translation, this year we will be bringing to Londoners, not one, not two but three special editions in translation, as part of our annual World Series editions.

As Cuba grows ever more accessible to outsiders, Litro will guide you through it’s Literary and artistic landscape bringing you Cuba’s hottest voices and artists in a special Cuba edition July—to celebrate the Cuba edition we will be taking over Waterstones Piccadilly in July with a special evening of words and music follow Litro on Social media @Litro Magazine for more details.

I know, you’re dreaming of summer and busy getting in shape for a beach get away with autumn a distant thought but in October we will bring an Indian summer to our pages—as we turn over the magazine to the celebrated Indian author Shashi Tharoor who will guest edit the India edition.

In the meantime we’ve given our pages to our Northern neighbours Sweden! Our Cover art- work is Painting Series #2 (2011) by the award winning Swedish artist Maria Friberg, courtesy of PiArtworks.

The stories within, these pages have been compiled by the Swedish translator Nichola Smalley.
Nichola of the issue:

“Even those of you who’ve never been to Sweden will probably have ideas about what it’s like, and what kind of literature comes out of it (moody detectives, anyone?).In putting together this special issue I wanted to present a different view of our northern neighbours. We open the issue with eternal love on the streets of contemporary Stockholm (as in Jonas Hassen Khemiri’s tale of less-than-per- fect memories ‘Unchanged Unending’), travelling to foreign climes (for an ill-judged proposal at a Spanish bullfight, in Lina Wolff’s ‘Verónica’), political perspectives (as Agri Ismaïl comments on current racialised politics in Sweden and abroad, in his essay ‘The Wreckage of the Nation State in the Time of Global Migration’), today’s digital culture and the social life of parks (with an unexpectedly fraught walk in Cilla Naumann’s ‘The Park Begins Here’).

Each of these writers is celebrated in Sweden. Some of them have had novels or other work published in English, others will be new to UK readers. What they all have in common
is a desire to write in new ways, challenging norms and expectations about what can be said and how. I hope the short texts presented here will inspire you to seek out more by these and other writers from Sweden—there’s a huge and diverse literary culture to discover!




Litro #151: Letter from the Editor

147_cover_bannerDear Reader,

Welcome to Litro #151: the Adrenaline issue

For this issue we asked for stories on exploring when exactly we feel that moment of Adrenaline rush? How do you get your fix of Adrenaline, and those moments of strong emotion?

The science: Adrenaline is a stress hormone secreted from the adrenal glands on the kidneys. It plays a major role in preparing the body for a fight-or-flight reaction in threatening environments. This happens when the brain communicates to the glands that there will be a need for a fight-or-flight response.
The cause of an adrenaline rush need not be an actual physical threat but can also be an imagined threat, strenuous exercise, heart failure, chronic stress, anxiety or a disorder of the brain or adrenal glands.

The reward: Sex: We open the issue with Look at Me, by Sarah Wilkinson, a story about the rush of excitement experienced by a young girl and her illicit sexual relation- ship between a married older man.

Misadventure: In Playing Games, by Rebecca Lawn, a young daughter – in seeking the affection of her father- finds that three will always be a crowd, an attempt to shake off her mother –in-law leads to a near death swim.

Fear: In Toni Ford’s, I Died and Went to Hell in Hong Kong, Toni Ford narrates
an experience in Hong Kong, where a game designed for participants to experi- ence their own death gives the inevitable traumatising experience.

In Smiley Face, by Sam Gilbert, the sporting career of a young American Football star is cut short abruptly on the playing field leading to soul searching and a .22 pistol.

Donna Stefano, gives us The Calm After the Tear Gas, about an encounter with tear gas at Qalandia checkpoint outside of Ramallah in 2009.

Fight-or-Flight: Just Noise by Kieran Gosney, is a piece about how the accept- ance of and desire for noise in music has changed over time, and its relationship of that change to our environment. It goes into how noise affects the body and mind, and how noise music fans tap into primal fight- or-flight responses for their thrill. Touching on how culture has learnt to normalise louder and more dissonant sounds, the modern world’s discomfort with silence
and the difference between the reactions to Stravinsky’s Rites of Spring premiere and the Japanese noise band Hanatarashi’s infa- mous bulldozer performance. In case you’re wondering—Hanatarash was a noise unit from Osaka, founded in 1983 by Yaman- taka Eye, the name Hanatarash literally means “Sniveller”, i.e. a person with a snotty or runny nose.

Our cover artist this month is Emma Coyle, her work has featured in the magazine’s such as the Sunday Times Style supplement, with exhibitions taking in the at Saatchi Gallery. Emma say’s her inspiration often comes after visiting exhibitions in galleries and museums which deal with contemporary art, fashion design, past art movements and cultural history .She finds that it allows her to focus on the importance of working with different themes, and always to push the boundaries of her comfort zone.

You can read our artist profile interview with Emma on page 49.

Eric Akoto
Editor in Chief




Litro #149: The Love issue – Letter from the Editor

149_coverDear Reader,

This month in Litro #149 we explore the notion of what Love – means to us. Love, we spend our lives craving it in one form or another, searching for it, and talking about it. Its meaning is felt more than it is clearly expressed. Some call it the greatest virtue.

The rapper KRS-One said: “That word love is very very serious. Very addictive.”

Love. You can be in it or out of it. You may feel you can’t live without it. You might feel it for yourself, your friends, your pet, your apartment, you’re partner.

In this issue we try to capture some of the questions Love asks of us: What is love? When do you feel love, and how? How do you cope with Love’ highs and lows?

Our cover art is by Taiwanese, Brooklyn based fine art photographer Hsin Wang. Hsin’s images our beautiful even in the sadness and melancholy the images portray. She uses photography as a form of therapy to discover her hidden feelings about relationships— “De-selfing” her latest Series- inspired after the break up of a six year relationship incorporates everyday objects to create her unique metaphoric and symbolic images. Its no wonder New York Times featured her work recently. Read her interview on page 43.

We open the issue with Nicolas Ridley’s Love by The Month, two couples search for rekindled love -over a valentines meal takes a rather unexpected turn- revealing the bed swapping habits of Belsize Park.

Men are hunters by nature. Men are the ones that lead the romance dance, in Ian Manley’s, A Mouldy Proposal a young man uses a novel way to get the attention of a love interest on his daily bus commute.

Toby Willamson’s, The Love Map is a piece of flash fiction exploring love & desire through a navigational chart.

Holiday Romances, we’ve all had one—Tracey Iceton gives a two sided tale of a holiday romance—with Water Love.

A professor leaves a trail of broken hearts in Annie Dawid’s, What Happens to Smart Women.

Stay by Cheryl Powell is a story of love gone wrong; or love gone too right. It captures that still point of a fleeting moment .

In Annie Brechin’s Essay, Dating in Dubai we find how the middle Eastern country deals with love – especially one amongst the younger generation often outside marriage – given Dubai’s constant reinvention and attempts to attract the worlds attention/visitors: world’s tallest tower A fountain you see from outer-space, the 12.1 miillion square feet shopping mall- with such a large expat community – Dubai defies normal expectations – the islands, 7* hotel – richest race track, so how does it deal with Love outside marriage?

We come back to London with an essay, from Tim Cooke, The Black Path– a look at love between friends.

We close the issue with an interview with Douglas Kennedy who sits down with Litro’s interviews editor Mia Funk to talk about Love, relationships and more.
.




Litro #148: The Going Home issue – Letter from the Editor

148_coverDear Reader,

Litro, the magazine for the general reader dedicated to short stories, ideas, and the people who make them- and those just starting to put pen to paper, would like to thank all our readers new and old who wrote to us last month – some where shameful personal plugs, some due to various Acts of law– have had to be omitted, though we liked them nonetheless but on the whole a big thumbs up from you all, you can read some of these on pages 11 & 12.

This month in Litro #148 we explore the notion of what Going Home – means to us. Is it a familiar physical space? A refuge? A feeling? A state of mind? Or is home actually to be found in another human being – maybe your partner, your parents? How do you know when you have found it?

The concept of home is locked in our memories. Continuing changes we experience in life makes it infeasible to remove memories of one’s past. Especially when you have been absent from the place you call home- the place you was raised- then you return some years later. That home becomes a home – because of the shared memories of events- the laughter’s the tears, conversations, news- that took place with family and friends. It’s these shared experiences that gives a sense of meaning to the place we call home.

When you leave the home you was raised and grew up in, that home is missed. Forgotten at a certain extent. Remembered every time someone relates something to it.

Our cover art this month is ‘Rising’ by American self taught artist Jeanie Tomanek – ‘Rising’ focuses on the idea of death and the final journey to wherever that leads, often the thought of going home.

The collection of stories this month though all told through different lenses, all give tales of feeling at home, of discovering / rediscovering home giving varying degrees of answers to what home can mean to us.

We open the issue with A Mother of My Own, by Lucy Kellet, a story in which a young adoptee ponders her true identity- in-doing so she realises her home is life that has been created by her adopted parents, finding her home in these parents.

In GC Perry’s, A New Place on The Map, a father re-visits his fractured family and finds his home in the family he is separated from.

Kevin Baker takes us to the Far East with his essay Chinese Hamburgers, the smells and bustle of the Chinese markets the familiar physical space gives the character his meaning of home.

Inspired by a BBC documentary following a year in the life of a container ship, Patricia Morris’ I Heart Containers, tells the story of these well-travelled containers and the untold stories and secrets they contain.

Brad Ellis’s Listings, tells the tale of a couple desperately seeking the perfect home, told through the eyes of an estate agent.

In Mendacities, Michael Cohen gives a dark tale of a woman who imagines murdering her husband and reveals the paths our minds travel to find our way home.

Polish writer, Grazyna Plebanek’, personal essay Going Home –tells of Plebanek’s time spent between the place she calls home Brussels and the country she was born Poland.

Finally in our author conversation this month-well not so much a conversation but a quick fire round of four questions- is with award winning Korean / US writer Steph Cha.

Wishing you all a happy and pleasant journey home for the holidays – where ever home is for you!
Until 2016,

Editor in Chief,

Eric Akoto




Litro #147: The Space issue – Letter from the Editor

147_cover_bannerDear Reader,

Welcome to Litro #147 – the Space issue. In this issue we explore the world’s ever-evolving urban social landscape. We’ve got art, stories, essays, cartoons, interviews – all examining the ways in which individuals and groups carve out their own spaces, dare to take up space and make their built environment(s) distinctly their own.

Our cover artist is Canadian artist Amy Shackleton, whose paintings portray urban life at its best, demonstrating ways that we can work with nature rather than against it. Her unique way of painting – Amy drip paints with squeeze bottles to build layers of organic lines (by spraying water and rapidly spinning each canvas) and straight lines (using a level) – has won her fans the world over with over a million online views to her work to date.

We have stories from writers, from a diverse selection of cities – from Peckham to Memphis – discussing how the issue of space and the rapid change of their neighbourhoods have affected them and their communities.

We open the issue with three personal essays, from three Londoners. In Notting Hill by James Miller, James reminisces on the lost counterculture leanings of Notting Hill, and how the neighbourhood has transformed into a sanitised and perhaps soulless mecca for the rich.

In Penny Metal‘s The We’evils of Peckham’s Gentrification, Penny looks at the gentrification of Peckham through the lens of a watchful weevil.

Meanwhile, Brixton-born Alex Wheatle MBE, with his essay Brixton, asks why nobody seems to be considering the futures and housing needs of young, working-class Brixtonites.

Nat Akin takes us transatlantic with his story Driving Range, set in a claustrophobic and rapidly changing Memphis neighbourhood.

In Diminishing Returns, Bethan James reflects on how a familiar space can suddenly become an alienating one.

Rachel Holmes’s story The Eyes is set in a primeval world and explores the themes of space as alienation, physical distance and becoming.

Finally, this month’s author Q & A is with Brooklyn-based novelist Naomi Jackson, whose dazzling debut novel The Star Side of Bird Hill is set in Barbados and Brooklyn. She discusses the pros and cons of the gentrification sweeping through of her predominately West Indian neighbourhood.

We do not give answers to the housing crisis or the crisis our generation is facing with the ever-dwindling urban city-scape. The issue does, however, ask and answer the question:

“How and where do you find the space to breathe, to grow, to create and simply be?”

If you’re new to the magazine and have read this far out of curiosity to find out what Litro means: the name Litro was made up by putting the “lit” into “metro”. We’ve since learned that the word has different meanings in different languages:. For instance, in Brazil, the word “litro” is the slang for a lighter among kids smoking weed. Pass the Litro, G.

We like to think of Litro as a small free monthly book of ideas that gives city dwellers an alternative to the daily freesheets such as the Metro. Litro is aimed at not just writers themselves, or even those with a particular interest in literature; instead, Litro believes in reaching the general reader whether they be a commuter, someone browsing in a bookshop or someone waiting in a bar or café to meet a friend.

If you’re a teacher who works with young kids or a parent to those aged 13-18, have them enter their words into our annual IGGY & Litro International Young Writer’s Prize. Aside from being good for them, there’s cash money to be won! You can find out more details by here.

Let us know what you think — we need a letters page —but only exaggerated flattery, please. After ten years we’re still trying to have fun with words. You can tweet us @litromagazine or send your letters c/o Editor 1-15 Cremer Street, Hoxton Studio 21.3 E2 8HD.

We hope this issue inspires and is read as an invitation for you to continue the narrative of Space.

Eric Akoto

Editor in Chief




Litro #146: Whodunnit? – Letter from the Editor

litro146_whodunnitDear Reader,

Crime, Death, Murder: all have a fascinating appeal not only in fiction but in fact and on television and at the cinema as well as in books. Indeed, TV audience figures and public lending rights data all tell the same tale: that crime fiction is one of the most popular forms of entertainment, and that its appeal is unusually broad-based and long-lived.

So for October we turn our pages to the Murder Mystery, with a Whodunnit? issue for Litro#146 and invite award winning crime writer Russ Litten as our guest fiction editor.

As Russ Litten puts it: “At the heart of every good story lies a mystery. This is what pulls our eye across the page – the desire to know, to discover, to peel away the layers until the essence of the thing is revealed. I like to hear my heart bang when I read a short piece of fiction. I want to be immersed in a fresh new world I can believe in, however fantastical or unfamiliar, to be dragged through the pages with every sense singing. And what better way to quicken the blood than a Whodunnit?

If the five W’s – who, what, why, when and where – are the best friends of the journalist, they are blood brothers to the weaver of fiction. But unlike our friends in the newspapers, authors of short stories concern themselves not so much with the cold hard black-and-white facts of what has happened as the fuzzy grey areas in-between. What we think or hope or fear could be happening. Writers – and attentive readers – are concerned with the gradual accumulation of detail; a telling turn of phrase, a tilt of the head or a gesture, a shadow glimpsed from the corner of the eye. These are the elements that instil the seeds of doubt in our collective brains. We do not necessarily need all the answers, just questions worth asking. A good story reads us, sets us aflame. Our imaginations do the rest.”

For this month’s edition of Litro #146 – Whodunnit? Russ Litten has gathered a collection of stories that features several different styles of writing. We have everything from post-modern psychodrama, to swirling lyrical elegy and plain hard-bitten realism in a minimalist style.

Barry Sheils begins the trail of mysteries with A Remembrance Day Service, a poignant and powerful story told from a first person narrator who’s kept at the edge but infects the entire tale with an understated yearning. It’s followed by CJ Timmins ‘s Break Down, a story that fills the reader with an increasingly unsettled awareness of things gone awry. Our guest Fiction Editor, Russ Litten dips into his memory banks with The Line Up, built around a true event in his life that inspired the tale. With fast-paced snappy dialogue and a snaking plot-linem Michael McGlade’s Burn Down The House reads and feels like an extract from a classic 1950s detective novel. We have shades of Edgar Allan Poe and H.P Lovecraft in Simon Barget’s Selbstmord, a gripping story that builds the tension wonderfully before pulling the rug away from beneath the reader. We our transported to what feels like the Victorian period in Felicity Hughes’s The Telephone Museum, a curious tale that keeps on unfolding.

And finally we have an interview with Darcey Steinke, author of novels Suicide Blonde, Jesus Saves, and the spiritual memoir Easter Everywhere in which she discusses faith, her fear of her mother and having to lock herself in her room, Kurt Cobain, the ’70s, her fifth novel, Sister Golden Hair (Tin House), and more.

On his final selection of stories, Russ says: “While hardly any of these stories are Whodunnits in the classic sense, they all carry that indefinable core of mystery that pulls the reader towards the final sentence. They are all full of tension and exhilaration. They intrigue and bamboozle. Some of them assault the senses whilst others dance and tease. Some are straightforward and some are less so, but however strange some of these tales can get, they are all beautifully constructed self-contained worlds and each one of them carries that unmistakeable whiff of truth so vital to good fiction. All life – and death – is here.”

A big thank you to Russ Litten for being our guest fiction editor for Litro #146: The Whodunnit? issue.

Eric Akoto

Editor in Chief