Alejandro Zambra has lived in Santiago, Chile, for nearly his entire life and has written two novels, Bonsai and Ways of Going Home. We asked him about his career, and this is what he said: “What I always liked is playing with words, to discover strange words. I started writing poetry very young, but it was a game. Yes, I was such a nerd… I wrote Bonsai for many years, although at first it was a very different book. A poetry book, actually. I think I was 25 and really wanted to communicate something. Writing was still a game, but now it was also a habit, a way of facing reality.” This issue features his story “Thank You” from his forthcoming collection, My Documents.
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The first time Jean-René Augé-Napoli had a Kalashnikov pointed at him was five years ago in the tiny African nation of Comoros. At the other end of the gun was a policeman, and at that moment, Jean-René told us, he wasn’t scared and decided he could be a war journalist. He’s since spent time embedded with armies in Eastern Europe and has been reporting on Syria full-time since September 2012. For this issue he traveled to Deir ez-Zor, in the inhospitable eastern part of the country, and documented the horrific conditions of the makeshift oil-refining industry run by Islamist rebels with ties to al Qaeda—a dangerous story that took him months of research and reporting to uncover.
See BLACK-GOLD BLUES
Andres Serrano is an internationally recognized American artist most famous for his role in the culture wars of the 1980s, when a bunch of Christians got upset at Piss Christ, his image of a crucifix submerged in the artist’s urine. He has also photographed dead bodies, the Ku Klux Klan, the homeless, and all levels of American society. His most recent work, Cuba, is the result of a six-week journey through the country where his mother grew up. He traveled there for the first time in his life for the project, with the intention of creating a realistic portrait of the nation that has been on his mind since childhood. We’re proud to feature a selection of the resulting photos in this issue. More can be seen at the Yvon Lambert Gallery in Paris at the end of this month.
NATALIA LEITE AND ALEXANDRA ROXO, A.K.A. PURPLE MILK
Natalia Leite and Alexandra Roxo are two Brazilian-American gals who met mid-Saturn return and decided to team up to navigate the changes caused by planetary shifts and the whims of the film industry in which they both worked. Since then they’ve had all kinds of successes: They are in postproduction for their web show, Be Here Now-ish, and are prepping two feature films. Bare, Natalia’s movie, will be shot at a truck-stop titty bar in middle-of-nowhere New Mexico, and Alexandra’s film, Out of Range, features an odd romance, a sexy androgynous person, and a fucked-up road trip. They have also co-directed music videos, fashion films, and commercials, as well as Serrano Shoots Cuba, a documentary about Andres Serrano’s trip, now playing on VICE.com. Their website is drinkpurplemilk.com.
When Christopher Ketcham started talking to whistleblowers about child sex abuse and those who cover it up in New York’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities, the lifelong atheist and Brooklynite might have been horrified, but he wasn’t exactly surprised. “Wherever you have organized religion alongside hierarchical authority, sexual repression, and a shame culture, you have little children being fucked in the ass,” he told us. “Catholics do it, Mormons do it—why not Jews?” The details of the way the ultra-Orthodox higher-ups allegedly protect these rapists, however, are particularly disgusting. Ketcham’s work has appeared in Harper’s, Vanity Fair, GQ, Salon, and many other magazines. He also has a website called deathtobrooklyn.com.