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Volume 20

Nomad - Fall 2018

About the Issue

Written by
Torsa Ghosal

Torsa Ghosal is the Associate Editor of Papercuts magazine. She is the author of the novel, Open Couplets (2017), published by Yoda Press in India. Her poems and short stories have appeared in venues such as The Hindu BLink, Aaduna, Poydras Review, Unsplendid, Himal Southasian, and Muse India. She is also a researcher, specializing in narrative theories–-that is, the systematic study of the aesthetic experiences offered by stories across media–-and 20th-/21st- century experimental literary forms. Her critical and scholarly writings can be found in Storyworlds: A Journal of Narrative Studies, South Asian Review, Media-N: Journal of the New Media Caucus, Post Script, and Latinos and Narrative Media. In the past, she has assisted the editors of the journal, Prose Studies: History, Theory, Criticism. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor of post-1945 English literature at California State University, Sacramento.


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Volume 20 Theme and Cover Story



Wanderer, musafir, flaneur, jajabor are mobile figures, travelling across literatures and cultures. They are as old as stories. However, as global air traffic continues to increase and natural as well as man-made catastrophes force millions of people out of their homes every year, the solo wanderer’s quest is replaced by a shared sense of uprootedness in the arts and stories of our times. Rithika Merchant’s “Voyagers,” the Cover Image for Papercuts magazine’s Vol. 20: Nomad, represents this collective displacement and the drive for exploration. While a group of voyagers remains afloat in Merchant’s galaxy, as many bodies are submerged in the deep blue. The drowned are negative images of the buoyant figures. The disintegrating forms under water are symbolic of the price the voyage exacts.


“Voyagers” by Rithika Merchant. 2016. Ink and gouache on paper. 39 x 28 inches. Read the artist’s statement here.

Like Merchant’s “Voyagers,” the poems, the fictions, and the essays in Papercuts Vol. 20: Nomad render the scale and the implications of movement across the world. Dipen Bhattacharya’s short story “Reflections,” translated from Bengali by Shabnam Nadiya, depicts the physical and psychological tussle among selves in transit, while M. Neelika Jayawardane’s “Blue Dress” and Duranka Perera’s “The Gathering” follow characters who are outsiders at home, and Joel Dinerstein’s “Cat’s Out” celebrates the masks a motley of characters put on. The essays in the issue take distinctive approaches to the theme: for instance, Jonathan Gil Harris’s “Banjaaras in a Banjar World” weaves his personal journey into a web of stories, poems, and songs. The extent to which ethnic nomad communities impact the lives and imagination of sedentary populations comes into view in Omar Khan’s photo essay. The poems in Vol. 20 encompass experiences of loneliness (Noorulain Noor), longing (Nabina Das) and belonging (Sehba Sarwar). Tanveer Anjum’s poem “We are Our Hands” translated from Urdu by Asif Farrukhi touches the subject of economic migration. Chris Abani’s poems cycle through search, the “persistent aftertaste of a lost home,” and culminate in the epiphany, “not even one of us will be forgotten.”

While the Papercuts editorial team set out to curate writings for Vol. 20 over summer and autumn 2018, novelist and essayist Sorayya Khan showed the way as the issue’s guest editor. Sorayya’s vision directed the issue, expanding the scope of the theme. Papercuts team appreciates the time, commitment, and knowledge Sorayya brought to Vol. 20.

We invite you now to join us in this collective quest for the familiar among the unfamiliar.

ReadPapercuts Vol. 20: Nomad 





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