"The West doesn’t understand radicalism. It’s anger, isolation, alienation, pain – that’s what drives young people to take up arms against the world. Not religion." Fatima Bhutto
Short stories
Confessions

Confessions

David Means is the author of the highly acclaimed story collections A Quick Kiss of Redemption (1991), Assorted Fire Events (2000) The Secret Goldfish (2004) and Spot (2010) as well as the Man Booker-nominated novel Hystopia (2016). His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Zeotrope and Best American Short Stories. He lives in...
The cow who wanted to be a dog

The cow who wanted to be a dog

It was the sugarcane harvest and the fields were burning. You could see flames all the way from here to the mountains. Ash floated around all day, sticking to your skin, your moustache, your eyelashes. We were all black with it. On the fifth day it rained. It doesn’t rain in December, but that year...
Fantasies

Fantasies

Her costume would be stunning, covered in sequins and feathers. She’d chosen the most spectacular one on the samba school website, not worrying about cost. Headdress, heels, rhinestones, feathers, and glitter galore – all eyes would be on her as she showed off the steps she’d learned at the dance studio in preparation for the...
Butterflies

Butterflies

“You’ll see, my girl is wearing such a pretty dress today,” Calderón says to Gorriti. “It looks so nice on her with those brown eyes she has – its color, you know. And those little feet…” They’re standing with the other parents, waiting anxiously for their children to be let out. Calderón is talking; Gorriti...
The supper

The supper

I bite the cookie I’d slowly brought to my mouth; it breaks, like bones being crushed. I grind it and picture the lattice pattern on its surface coming apart, reminding me of the game my grandfather taught me and invited me to play on many afternoons. Cookie, lattice, crushed bones. I bite down and feel...
Hatchet job

Hatchet job

Yes, of course, I know my rights. I have the right to remain silent. I have the right to talk to an attorney. If I can’t afford an attorney, one will be appointed for me. Yes, I know. In fact, I’m sure every halfwit kid with a TV for a babysitter can tell you their...
A hunger artist

A hunger artist

In the past few decades public interest in the art of fasting has drastically declined. While it used to be very profitable to put on big, stand-alone exhibitions, doing so today would be completely impossible. It was another time. Back then, the whole city would get caught up in what the hunger artist was doing;...
The clever monkeys

The clever monkeys

A good long time ago there lived a man who wove and sold hats of straw. All of the farmers needed his hats to keep their heads out of the sun while they worked in the fields, so business was generally good. One day after finishing a batch of hats he packed them in a...
My Mauretania

My Mauretania

My name is Horace Flemming. A girl with a kind, beaky nose and a leather notepad burst into my room this morning and said she wanted to know about ships. She’d found out about me in the library. I was in an old newspaper, she said. The man who made the model ships. That was...
Procedures

Procedures

Maria E never knew anyone to quit smoking without claiming that they’d been on three packs a day until just the day before. Nor did she know anyone to have their appendix removed without saying the surgeon claimed that if they’d arrived three minutes later, it would have burst and caused fatal peritonitis. Similarly, she...