The GOAT PoL (2/11)

Staff Picks From the GOAT PoL #2

We hope you enjoyed the last set of “staff picks” from The GOAT PoL. In our second edition we’ve got a new set of Reader/Advisor/Editors (RAEs) amplifying texts that they were struck by from the hundreds of stories already published. These stories don’t get old.

To give readers an easy road in, every two weeks we’ll publish four new “Staff Picks from The GOAT PoL.” Individual RAEs each select a story that they especially love and write a brief “staff pick,” directing your attention to an interesting author’s work. If you like what you find, click the writer’s name on the story byline, to see what you can do next. Thanks! Here are three new Staff Picks from The GOAT PoL:

Louis Lüthi’s pick: Tawanda Discovers Stoicism

By Ashley Dube

Ashley Dube’s story about financial setbacks and self-help books is a gem. The premise is amusing and clever: “Tawanda found solace in a peculiar place, a book called The Daily Stoic, a self-help guide that preaches Stoicism, made up of 366 meditations on wisdom, perseverance, and the art of living.” Stoicism, here, is willfully misinterpreted as a business strategy. “Tawanda Discovers Stoicism” is an ironic commentary on the dire economic situation in Zimbabwe. And yet, at the same time, it’s a story of hope and perseverance.

Niels Bekkema’s Pick: The First Reflection on My Existence

by Honore Nfundiko Barbalibirhu

In this powerful story, Honore captures the shift from idyllic village life surrounded by bamboo trees, to the unrelenting horror of rebels attacking. One image that struck me as particularly haunting and metaphoric emerges halfway in the story, when the rebels chase Honore through the woods he once found so peaceful, and he dives into a pit below a tree where he used to play hide-and-seek. He lays there, quietly, so as not to attract the attention of the rebels searching for him above ground, or the giant snake sleeping beside him.

Matthew Stadler’s pick: Q and A

by Sana Nassari

Tracking the broken lives of Iranian families who survived the long war with Iraq, Sana Nassari shines an affectionate light on the passions and pleasures of youth. In “Q and A,” we attend an evening reading of the local poetry society where young Romeos, Ahmed and Zabih, are bowled over by the powerful lines of a shy young woman named Azadeh—Every step that I took/ Brought me closer to the city I fled from—before the gathering is hijacked by a worried local official who wants some good press about his “conversations with youth;” he turns the poetry society’s event into a forced Q and A, at which the young poets tell him exactly what they think of his generation’s leadership. At once sympathetic and unsparing, Sana Nassari is a deft and nuanced observer of real politics.

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