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MORE NEW RELEASESI WAS TRYING TO DESCRIBE WHAT IT FEELS LIKEby Noy Holland(Counterpoint Press)FOUR TAXIS FACING NORTHby Elizabeth Walcott-Hackshaw (Peepal Tree Press)THE LUCKY ONESby Julianne Pachico (Faber) WRITING ON WATERby Maggie Harris (Seren)THE PAIN TREEby Olive Senior(Peepal Tree Press)GOLD ADORNMENTS AND OTHER STORIESby Emma Kittle-Pey (Patrician Press)Foreign Soil by Maxine Beneba Clarke (Corsair)‘I get bored very easily. Not a great trait for a writer’SUPPORT FOR MUSLIM WRITERS Last issue (72) we announced a new anthology from short story specialists Comma Press, Iraq + 100: stories from a century after the invasion. In the face of President Trump’s Muslim travel ban, still being debated and challenged aswe go to press, Comma have announced that in 2018 all of the translated work it will be publishing will be from the seven banned countries (Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen). The press says that many of its writers are affected by the ban. Editor Ra Page toldthe Guardian, ‘If the only narrative America wants to export right now is the narrative of hate, then we need to look elsewhere’. This is one of several initiatives being taken by the literary community to protest Trump’s Executive Order. They include author Malorie Blackman boycotting literature festivalsin the US, US agents throwing open their doors to welcome Muslim writers, and other small presses planning books focusing on writing from the affected countries.WINNING NOVELLAWriter Joma West has wonthe Manchester Metropolitan University Novella Award for her story Wild, about a society living in domed cities, where the wild is kept at bay, and can only be explored via the word museum... It was described by judge Lucy English as ‘an extraordinary piece of writing, full of surprisesboth in terms of subject matter and technique’. West writes primarily science fiction, and is interested in how ‘another world or another time can shine a light on how we live and interact right now’. This is the second year of the award, which offers a prize of £1,000 plus publication by top indie Sandstone Press.BAME YA ANTHOLOGYStripes – an imprint of Little Tiger Group – is releasing an anthology of YA short stories by BAME writers this year. A Change is Gonna Come was promptedby the lack of diversity in publishing, says Commissioning Editor Ruth Bennett. Contributors include Tanya Byrne, Inua Ellams, Catherine Johnson, Ayisha Malik and Irfan Master. As a way of spreading the benefit, an aspiring editor from a BAME background will shadow Bennett through the publishing process.audience. As the narrator name- checks stories from Foreign Soil,a semi-autobiographical aspect comes into focus...Ultimately, Foreign Soil is nota cosy collection: its themes of racism, refugees and the violence of war are hard to swallow – but that’s exactly why it’s such a phenomenal achievement. ❐HOW I DID IT‘I get bored very easily. Not a great trait for a writer. I startedout writing mainly poetry, so reinventing or extending my writing with each story or project is a massive craft challenge, but one that excites me. So it seemed a natural progression.‘I’d characterise my work as bold. And awake. I have to feel really strongly about something to put pen to paper.‘I didn’t know I was working on what would become a book. I was writing stories primarily about real world concerns and exploring the ways in which these things impact the lives of individuals.‘I ended up with a box of stories, and could see that eight or so seemed to be really speaking to each other, in terms of exploring different but interconnecting themes. They became the spine for Foreign Soil.’MAXINE BENEBA CLARKEWHAT'S NEWSHORT STORIESSHORT STORY REVIEWClarke writes with both fists raised – her characters sufferReview and interview by ALICE SLATER 68 Mar/Apr/May 2017 mslexiaMaxine Beneba Clarke is an Australian-born slam-poet with Afro-Caribbean roots. Known for her award-winning poetry, Foreign Soil is Clarke’s début short story collection.Foreign Soil takes us from the Black Panther squats of 1960s Brixton to a sewing shop in Kingston. Each story explores alienation differently: a school girl endures racism and isolation when her family move from Japan to Sydney; an estranged housewife in the Deep South is desperate to reconnect with her son; a refugee flees war-torn Sri Lanka only to be detained by the Australian authorities.Clarke writes with both fists raised. Her characters suffer, but she resolutely refuses to tone down their experiences for the sake of the reader’s sensitivities. These are communities whose stories are seldom told; Clarke’sfrank yet empathic approach makes their individual plights all the more harrowing and, in light of the current global political climate, important.With influences as diverse as Tracy Chapman and Bob Dylan to Zadie Smith and NoViolet Bulawayo, Clarke has an uncanny knack for realising characters through their use of language. From the Kingston patois of ‘Hope’ to the careful enunciation of Shu Yi in her eponymous story, the cast of Foreign Soil speak with strong voices rendered through a combination of local dialect and phonetic pronunciation.In ‘The Sukiyaki Book Club’, the last story in the collection, it feels as though Clarke is looking the reader in the eye.It features an Australian writer struggling to write a story with an optimistic ending to appease editors who have criticised her work for lacking the ‘uplifting’ touch needed to secure a wider

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