Irenosen Okojie’s surreal fiction twists and shifts the world as we know it; in an interview with Leon Craig, Okojie discusses her novel Butterfly Fish (2015) and her two short story collections to date. Interviewed by poet Alok Vaid-Menon, writer Ocean Vuong reflects on myth-making and the future of Asian-American literature. Rebecca Liu contends with the ‘tiger mom’ trope and the representation of Asian mothers in fiction. Polly Barton writes an ode to the Japanese new-wave pop star Jun Togawa in her essay ‘Insect Woman’, Lili Hamlyn examines death denial by way of cryogenics and posthumous sperm retrieval, and artist Zach Blas discusses psychedelics, Silicon Valley futurism and the history of a speculative US military weapon known as the ‘gay bomb’.
Writer and poet Maria Stepanova and Eugene Ostashevsky paraphrase the Roman poet Ovid’s poetry of exile, in their experimental translation project, ‘Ovid Void’, published in both Russian and English. In ‘The Understory’, an extract from a forthcoming novel by the Thai writer Saneh Sangsuk, translated by Mui Poopoksakul, a monk relays a legend to a group of children about the decline of the forest and a tiger intent on revenge. In an inventive story, ‘Young Forest’, US author Shane Jones depicts a brother on a quest to find a sibling who has escaped into the woods. In ‘The Chicken’, winner of the 2021 White Review Short Story Prize, sponsored by RCW, RZ Baschir captures the horror of oppression and the visceral links between woman and animal. The issue includes poetry by Raymond de Borja, James Giddings and Kandace Siobhan Walker, winner of the 2021 White Review Poet’s Prize.