Out of Nothingness; Harakiri; Treatise on Passion and Adulation; & Water Riddle, translated from the Arabic by Thoraya El-Rayyes



Yukio Mishima, why did you kill yourself like that? Why did you slowly plunge the sword into your insides and turn it? Why did you sit breathing in your slow death, watching your blood drain onto the floor—without being beheaded? What sin were you trying to atone for?

All right—I know—I am disturbing you. I will leave you in here to contemplate your demise in peace. And I will go live my noisy demise, out there, every day.





Treatise on Passion and Adulation

. . . and when she asked him to describe her absence, he said: forlorn as a flock of birds breaking up over scattered rooftops.

and when she asked him to describe himself in her absence, he said: wine on an evening when the stars blend into the drops of gold on your cheeks. That is me aging in solitude until you return.

and when she asked him if he had missed her, he said: the letters of your name were here. I watch over them, viscous, glistening slowly. Your eyes gleam on my wall.

and when, reassured, she sought to be one with him in the scorching heat, he told her to wait, saying: winter conceals lovers and summer brings scandal.

then he started to tell stories, as she listened.



Hisham Bustani is an award-winning Jordanian author of five collections of short fiction and poetry. His work has been translated into several languages and appeared in many journals, such as the Kenyon Review, Black Warrior Review, The Poetry Review, Modern Poetry in Translation, and the Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly. His fiction has been collected in The Best Asian Short Stories, The Ordinary Chaos of Being Human: Tales from Many Muslim Worlds, and The Radiance of the Short Story: Fiction from Around the Globe, among other anthologies. Bustani has received the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Fellowship for Artists and Writers and is the Arabic fiction editor of the Amherst College–based literary review The Common.