What makes a haunting? You can be haunted by a ghost, sure, but you can also be haunted by guilt, grief, your country’s history, even your own anatomy. And sometimes it’s hard to say exactly what is doing the haunting—but the feeling is still there regardless, the presence of something just out of sight.
We wanted to explore this diaphanous theme in this issue’s special selection of contemporary Mexican fiction. Within these pages, hauntings take the form of a late-night apparition, a bizarre transformation of a woman’s body, and oftentimes simply a vague sense of dread. Bringing together work by five Mexican authors—several appearing in print in English translation for the first time—this feature speaks to the diversity of Mexico and its literature. From ranches to cities to atmospheric dreamscapes, these stories will entice you, surprise you, and, yes, perhaps frighten you.
We couldn’t help but find traces of hauntings in the rest of Two Lines 31. A woman recalls her grandmother’s adventure escaping pirates in a piece of historical fiction by Shaheen Akhtar, translated from Bengali by Shabnam Nadiya. Imagery and rhythm collide in “Bongo noisemaker crackle” by Peruvian poet Mariela Dreyfus, translated from Spanish by Gabriel Amor. And love intermingles with a sense of home in surprising and refreshing poems by Myat, translated from Burmese by Kenneth Wong. In re-reading this issue it’s hard not to wonder whether hauntings aren’t somehow an essential element of great literature, always lurking on the page if you only know to look for them.