The One-Handed Pianist was published to acclaim in the early 1990’s, with the two-part Spanish edition winning the Latino Literature Prize in 1989 and the Gamma Literature Prize in 1992. Its tales look at what it means to be Jewish in the Hispanic world—a world in which spirituality is often exercised outside the realm of orthodoxy.
Stavans constructs fables that raise questions about ethnicity and community; even Stavans’ person raises questions about ethnicity and community: what does it mean that a Jew of Eastern European lineage can call himself Latino and speak for that group?
The Open-Winged Scorpion and Other Stories is a collection of ten powerful Bengali short stories, all translated into English for the first time. Hailing from Murshidabad district in West Bengal, Abul Bashar pens stories about precarious lives of marginal Muslim communities in that district. His tales are shot through with the fears, dreams, hopes, and anxieties of the communities he portrays: their poverty and piety, the sensuality of the ancient mythologies they reimagine and remember, the rituals that permeate their lives, and the ever-present influence of the River Padma, which brings the silt that makes the land flourish—and the floods that destroy the crops and the people who plant them. The complex dynamics of the trivial and the transcendental emerge in Bashar’s stories, as the tales become no less than an archive and richly imagined historical testimony of an abject community relegated to the margins of the society too focused on the future to remember people who are struggling in the here and now.