The GOAT PoL (4/12)

Staff Picks From the GOAT PoL #4

Over at The GOAT PoL, our eight Reader/Advisor/Editors (RAEs) are working with scores of stateless, refugee, and disenfranchised writers, publishing one or two dozen of their new stories every week. With hundreds of stories already published, The GOAT PoL map is crowded with remarkable writing, like a bookstore or a library to which a couple dozen new volumes are added every week. 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 four new Staff Picks from The GOAT PoL:

Louis Lüthi’s pick: “The Strange Face of Junior”

By Pierre Gasore

The brief first chapter of Pierre Gasore’s rollicking novella, “The Strange Face of Junior,” revolves around a question of fatherhood. Why does Junior, a thoughtful boy in the Kenyan capital, have three fathers? Who is his biological father? Junior adores his mother, Wanja, yet she and everyone around her are hustling to sustain their lifestyle. For Junior, the question of fatherhood will in subsequent chapters become a quest. Gasore’s prose, which calls to mind the Ivorian writer Bernard Dadié, is electric and darkly witty: “The currency here is the pesa. You either have it or you don’t! Pesa: the word in Swahili probably comes from the Portuguese or Spanish, but it doesn’t matter, without pesas you weigh nothing, you weigh zero.”

Izra Rosario’s pick: “I Like this Thief”

By Winile Ximba

This heist story drops the reader right into the center of a fast-paced adventure. Following Sanele, a bold thief, on his journey to rob a bank, you think you know exactly how this story will end, but it’s the road that Winile Ximba takes to get you there that’s interesting. Between the vivid descriptions and the excellent foreshadowing, you are sure to enjoy this piece. 

Niels Bekkema’s pick: “Disappearance and Miraculous Return”

By Samuel Mweze

Dive into the incredible story of Jenny, a woman who mysteriously reappears in the lives of her long-lost family, who thought she passed away years ago after a brief stint in the hospital. Her return sparks a chain of events: the police become involved, compelled to uncover the truth surrounding Jenny’s supposed death. DNA samples are collected, and an investigation follows, driven by Jenny’s claim that her grave may in fact conceal a buried plantain tree, instead of a human body.

Matthew Stadler’s pick: “The Bottoms”

By Frank Kensaku Saragosa

“The Bottoms” is a neighborhood in downtown San Diego. Frank Kansaku Saragosa maps it in prickly, jagged sentences that demarcate the meticulous social geography of the user looking for what he needs in the neighborhood he knows best. This is a dérive in which the degrangement comes from the lack of drugs, not the Situationist’s preferred bottle of bordeaux. Saragosa’s peripatetic narrator is just as theory-besotted as his French cousins, but his language is grounded, noun-heavy American English that holds its ideas strictly inside of things: “walking streets streaked with shit smelling like piss, walking the Block for anything you want, black or white or rock, for sure, but you need a cell phone charger? We got you. You need a clean T-shirt? A rig? A blade? A flashlight? Want pussy? Want head? Don’t trip. We got you. That’s what you hear down here, I got youI got you, and sometimes they do, sometimes they got you, and sometimes they get you good.”

Filed Under: Articles & Essays


Matthew Stadler is a novelist (Landscape: Memory, Allan Stein, Chloe Jarren’s La Cucaracha, and others) and essayist. He was the literary editor of Nest magazine and a co-founder of Publication Studio, where he now edits the Fellow Travelers Series.


Louis Greenwood Lüthi is the author of On the Self-Reflexive Page II (Roma Publications, 2021), and his writing and translations have recently appeared in Inscription: The Journal of Material Text, Bricks from the Kiln, and Socrates on the Beach.


Izra is a social worker in Denver, Colorado (USA) serving folks experiencing homelessness and food insecurity. They have experience editing with writing circles within the shelter and college journals.


Niels Bekkema is an artist and writer, and the assistant editor for the Polity of Literature series on ArtsEverywhere.

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